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Lessons on the Court, pt. 2

26 Aug Spiritual Formation | Comments Off on Lessons on the Court, pt. 2
Lessons on the Court, pt. 2

In the first blog of this series I shared about a lesson I learned while attending a basketball camp with my grandson. Now, in part 2 of this series here’s another thing I learned…

Once again I was surprised that the director of an elite basketball camp would take so much time on a topic that wasn’t a specific basketball skill. The camp director, drilled into this group of high school basketball players Lesson #2. This lesson was simple, Character Counts.


The director’s opinion was that other students look up to the players on their school’s basketball team. With that status, players have an obligation to be leaders and models in their school. As people of influence, the director held the players to a higher standard. He admonished them never to bully another human being, in fact, he implored them to stop others from being bullies. In a touch of irony, he wasn’t opposed to players using physical force to stop bullies from attacking the marginalized!

The basketball players were encouraged to be leaders on and off the court. They were to lead by example, to stand for good and to protect the weak. Although the director wasn’t a Jesus Follower, he understood the importance of good character. As I listened to his speech, I knew he could teach that same lesson in any student ministry setting because character counts. It counts for you and me too.

Never underestimate the Importance of Character

I recently went through the hiring process searching for a new employee. The criteria I used included competency, chemistry (with the rest of the team), and character. A person can be a genius and a great team member but the lack character will eventually bring pain and destruction, it’s only a matter of time.

How is it with your character? Are your standards higher now than when you began your ministry? Or, as time has passed have you become more cynical and jaded? How have you handled the pressure and politics in your organization? Do you feel like you’ve had to compromise your character just to survive and to stay ahead?

These are hard questions that demand honest answers. Questions that only you and God know the real answers to. The basketball director was wise. He knew that these kids needed more than basketball skills, they also needed character. And so it is with us as ministry leaders.

After years of experience in student ministry, I’m convinced that healthy student ministries begin with spiritually healthy leaders. Healthy leaders create healthy disciples. It’s that simple.

At Project Renovation we believe that a leader’s health is comprised of both the internal pieces of their soul and the outward skills they need to lead well, and when these two components are spiritually formed and fully integrated, we believe youth workers can lead and love from a healthy place.

However, too often youth workers function out of a different place – fatigue, frustration, and spiritual unhealth. Caught up in the busyness of ministry life, we focus on getting things done… the next lesson, the next event, the next program, all the while feeling that our soul has become disconnected. At some point, we may even think that the only way to get healthy is to walk away from the ministry. You see, character counts. To maintain healthy, godly character try these four steps:

  1. Do the right thing, even when it’s hard or painful.
  2. Focus on what’s true, even if it’s just a grain of truth.
  3. Whine, cry and complain to God, not to others.
  4. Lead with courage and wisdom.

Basketball and ministry do not build character, they reveal it. Character counts and it shows.

Jerry Higley
Executive Director at Lebanon Valley Youth For Christ
Jerry Higley is the Executive Director of Lebanon Valley Youth For Christ and an adjunct faculty member at LBC teaching Student Ministry courses at both the undergrad and graduate level. When he's not at work, he loves spending time outdoors hunting and fishing with his grandkids.