What ever happened to patience?

Published 6:54 pm Friday, December 4, 2015

A week ago, college football’s regular season came to an end, and one day later, the word of coaches getting fired began to make the news.

Whether you care about sports or not, the lack of patience these days with coaches says a lot about our culture.

Indeed, after Georgia’s firing of Mark Richt, a man of impeccable character who had done nothing but represent his university in a wonderful way, recruit some of the top classes in the country every year and take his team to a bowl every year, even coaching rival Nick Saban of Alabama said, “I don’t know what in the world our profession is coming to.”

Email newsletter signup

Maybe the teams and schools who are so quick to pull the trigger and fire their coaches need a little history lesson. Consider the careers of four coaching legends.

Tom Landry of the Cowboys is remembered as a legendary football coach in the NFL. But what was his record in his first five years at Dallas? That would be 0-11, 4-9, 5-8, 4-10, and 5-8. If the same impatience had existed in those days, we never would have seen Landry win multiple Super Bowls, because he would have been fired before he ever had a chance to build a winning team and culture.

Mike Krzyzewski of Duke is college basketball’s greatest active coach, and one of the greatest ever. But we never would have seen Coach K win five NCAA championships if today’s impatience had existed in the early ‘80s, when his first three Duke teams went 6-8, 4-10 and 3-11 in ACC Conference play. Krzyzewski almost certainly would have been fired in today’s culture.

And think of perhaps the greatest coach in history, John Wooden, who won 10 NCAA basketball titles at UCLA. Coach Wooden’s run of championships at UCLA began in 1964. Do you know when he became the head coach at UCLA? In 1948! John Wooden, who eventually won 10 titles, won none for his first 16 years at the school!

Dean Smith of the University of North Carolina was such a legendary coach that the school’s basketball arena was named after him while he was still coaching. But before Coach Smith won his first NCAA title in 1982, he was UNC’s coach for two decades!

You see, all of these legendary coaches were given a chance to build their teams in the right way. And even after building a winning tradition, it was understood that it might take many years to win it all.

In 1 Corinithians 3:10, the Bible says, “Let each one take care how he builds.” You can slap together a house in a hurry, but is it going to last? You can try to slap together a life and a character in a hurry, but what is it going to be like over the long haul?

The Bible tells us that there is no “microwaving” Christian growth. It takes years of faithfully digging into the Scriptures, praying, being committed to a Bible-teaching local church and trying to trust and obey God each day.

But as we consistently persevere in these things over the long haul, God’s Spirit transforms our character. You see, God is not into growing people who are like brittle saplings that shoot up quickly — He’s growing redwoods.


Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.