Sicut Christus – The Gift of a Lifetime

Sicut Christus = Christlike in Latin

SEE’koot ˈkrɪs.tʏs


Several years ago I had the privilege of hearing Coach John Wooden speak and also met him. It can be argued that Coach Wooden was the greatest coach who ever lived. He won ten national championships in basketball at UCLA, including seven in a row. At one point, his team won forty-seven games straight. Coach Wooden was also a three time All-American as a player at Purdue. He passed away at the age of ninety-nine in 2010. When I heard him speak, he was in his early nineties. The thing that impressed me is how sharp he was. He did not even have any notes for his talk. We were gifted one of his books at the conference and I read it on the way home.

A few things that stuck out to me about this book and Coach Wooden:

  1. He was a teacher. He had many “Woodenisms” his players rolled their eyes at, sayings he repeated over and over. On the first day of practice he taught his players how to put on their socks. The lesson was twofold, to show how to not get blisters but also to show that all the players were the same. In an era where racism loomed large and players from different cultures and backgrounds were being brought together, no matter how big a star the player was coming in or what color his skin was, he put his socks on the same as the next guy. Many of his players did not like him while they were at UCLA, but as they became adults they began to understand the lessons Coach Wooden taught them.
  2. I noticed what a big impact Coach Wooden’s father had on his life. He father began to instill what he called his “two sets of threes” on John at an early age: The first set was : 1. Never lie 2. Never cheat 3. Never steal and the second set was for dealing with adversity: 1. Don’t whine 2. Don’t complain 3. Don’t make excuses.

I coached my daughter Taylor’s basketball team for six years as she was growing up. As I developed my own coaching style, I came up with a coaching philosophy based, in part, on Coach Wooden. I told my teams to: 1. Have fun 2. Try your best 3. I did not stress winning. I reminded them that it was a game they were playing and to have fun. I encouraged them to give it their very best effort at every practice and game. Coach Wooden would tell his players (paraphrased): “You might can fool me, or your parents, or your girlfriend, but you will know when you walk off the court if you gave it your very best.” He did not talk about winning, he just concentrated on getting the very most he could out of each player and team. The winning would take care of itself.

But the thing that stuck out the most was what Coach Wooden called “The Gift of a Lifetime.” On his graduation day from high school, Coach Wooden’s Dad gave him a two sided card. On one side it read:

Four things a man must learn to do

If he would make his life more true

To think without confusion clearly

To love his fellow man sincerely

To act from honest motives purely

To trust in God and heaven securely.

On the other side of the paper, it said “7 Things to Do.” It read as follows:

  1. Be true to yourself.
  2. Help others.
  3. Make each day a masterpiece.
  4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
  5. Make friendship a fine art.
  6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.
  7. Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings every day.

The real gift of a lifetime it appears John Wooden’s father left him was a spiritual legacy. There is nothing better we can do for or leave our children than to have faith in Jesus, share that faith with them, and spend our life living it out. And if we are not truly living out our faith, being the man or woman God has called us to be, we might can fool or spouse, or children, or parents, or loved ones, but we know and God definitely knows.

Tomorrow, I explore how these “7 Things to Do” might just sound or be biblical.

Just for today, make this day a masterpiece. This just might include being true to yourself, helping others, drinking deeply from the Bible, making friendship a fine art, building a shelter against a rainy day, praying for guidance, and giving thanks for your blessings.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two..

Source: Wooden, John, and Steve Jamison. Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections on and Off the Court. 1997.

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