As far as I can see, "Pray and Practice with Purpose, A Playbook for the Spiritual Development of Athletes" a book I am proud to call my first...and my own, had the simple, but important destiny of being born. Considering that it was three years in the making, that is not a destiny I take for granted. Its fate, however, is to be determined by the hands of those who read it and try out what I suggest and believe to be true: a team can achieve success, real success, should they make time and space for prayer and service to one another and the larger school community.
Indeed the most important hands that can open Pray and Practice with Purpose" are coaches and athletic directors. I say that because (as written on my publisher's website, NCEA),
This book equips athletes, coaches and teams with the resources to achieve success in spiritual formation. Through prayer and practice with purpose, sports and spirituality can become a valuable component of a team's culture and routine.Though I do not anticipate a New York Times bestseller, my sincere hope and wish are that a coach will look over the 30 ways to pray with your team, for your team or with other coaches and commit to that spiritual exercise. Furthermore, I hope they will take a risk—not in developing a trick play or moving a young athlete up to varsity, but risk practice time for building community, serving others, strengthening tradition and creating new ones. I have over 30 different examples of how to do that. Jesus talked about having faith the size of a mustard seed. In that same spirit, I sincerely believe a little goes a long way.
Cardinal Bernardin said, "no one can do everything, but everyone can do something." Amen. No coach needs to be master and messiah, genius and god. They have their own unique gifts and talents, priorities and problems. I hope they get in touch with their own spiritual gifts and share those with their athletes. I liken this urging to what I find in the radio booth at an MLB baseball game. One announcer is in charge of the play by play, the other offers color commentary. A coaching staff might think with this framework in mind: the head coach oversees the "play by play." Perhaps an assistant can be "color." This book offers a whole lot of color...and it should. Why?
|Giants fans love our announcers: Kruk and Kuip. A lot of play and color|
Some authors have but one book in them. Others have thirty. I have a sense of how both can be true. "Pray and Practice with Purposes's" destiny was made possible by what I consider the first of two understatements. One: I love sports and talking about sports and Two: some of my favorite people to talk to are other coaches. I enjoy picking their brain and deconstructing how they think and approach their craft. I always want to know more about their athletes. Their attention to detail is remarkable, commitment to their athletes impressive, and the sacrifices they make is undeniable.
Ask anyone who has written a book about the process of writing and their response is akin to playing the game of golf. You know your strengths and can't let go of your weaknesses. Not too much about it is easy, but it still an endeavor worth pursuing. Writing is demanding and exacting. Quite often it is a lonely pursuit—too lonely. And yet, writing doesn't have to be...in fact, it cannot be. And so I suppose it is appropriate that the only time I shed a tear in meeting my book for the first time is when I looked at the dedication: To my parents: the givers of so many wonderful gifts—including Sports and Spirituality. Thank you. My heart swelled with gratitude when I reviewed the acknowledgments, or as I wrote, "the assists." I have already seen edits I wish I had made, a quote I forgot....how could I? Eric Liddell's words have nearly defined my experience of Sports and Spirituality. I didn't get a chance to thank some people, and there were prayers and practices I learned about later.
I am so grateful that "Pray and Practice with Purpose, A Playbook for the Spiritual Development of Athletes" was made public during Easter week. The joy of these 50 days manifests itself in new and surprising ways. To offer a tool for others to know the Risen Lord, His power, and majesty through something totally unexpected—through sports—is not. Sounds like Easter to me.
If you would like to order a copy, "Pray and Practice with Purpose, A Playbook for the Spiritual Development of Athletes" is available on the NCEA website. If you would like a signed copy, contact the author directly (firstname.lastname@example.org). I will send it to you, mailing included.