When Jim Tressel was the head football coach at Youngstown State, he once invited Bishop Thomas Tobin to address his team before a particularly big game. The talk he gave to the team was something Coach Tressel never forgot…
[Bishop Tobin’s speech] turned out to be one of the most concise and interesting messages I’ve ever heard about what the future holds. I’ll paraphrase what Bishop Tobin said, and perhaps you’ll also find it helpful.
I don’t pretend to know the future. But here are three quick things I believe are true about the future.
1. The future for each and every one of us is going to be a mixture of good and bad. Some things we’ll enjoy, and some things we won’t. And the same will be true in this game you’re about to play. It’s going to be a mixture of some good things that happen and some things you’d really rather not have happen.
2. The ratio of positives and negatives that happen to us in the future are going to be most affected by the decisions we make. We are going to have an impact on the highest percent of that ratio. In this game you’re getting ready to play, the amount of good and the amount of not-so-good that happens is going to be mostly affected by what you do—not by what your opponent does, not by what the referee does, not by what the crowd does, not by the way the ball bounces, but by what YOU do.
3. No matter what happens in the future, no matter what the percentage of good and bad, I really believe it’s true that God will never leave us. He will always be there for us. And the same thing is going to be true in this game. No matter what happens in the course of this game, God will be there at the conclusion.
That’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten, and I think our players felt the same way. And, of course, that lesson isn’t just for football. I’ve experienced the truth of it countless times in my life.
– Jim Tressel, from his book The Winner’s Manual
None of us knows for sure what the future holds. The uncertainty we face can lead to stress and worry, especially when we must make an important life decision or when we know we’re about to encounter a particularly significant moment—such as a big game, a big test, a big job interview, etc.
But if we remember these three points, it will instantly alleviate the stress or worry we may be feeling.
1- Nothing is going to be all good or all bad in the future; you’re going to experience some of both no matter what you do.
2- Whether you experience more good or more bad in your future is primarily decided by YOU—the decisions you make, the thoughts you think, and the actions you take.
3- In good times and in bad, you can always trust that God will be there with you, helping you along the way.
There’s a great sense of peace that comes from reminding yourself of these three points. While we can’t control everything that happens to us, we can control most things that happen to us based on how we think and act. And no matter what happens in the future—good or bad—we can always count on God being there for us.
These three points remind me of the Serenity Prayer, a longtime favorite among coaches, athletes, and business leaders everywhere:
Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.