Kobe Bryant and The Art of Legend

The stories are numerous.  From his start at Lower Merion High School (not far from where I type this) to his years in the NBA, Kobe Bryant was a phenomena. He worked, drilled, fought, and practiced harder than his peers. He was relentless, driven, and passionate. He demanded more of himself and pushed his teammates to follow.

Today, in a helicopter crash in California, Bryant and his daughter along with six others passed away. They were traveling to a basketball game when the helicopter crashed and caught fire.  There were no survivors.

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Pic from the LA Times. 

Story is a powerful force.  We write one in our heads on a daily basis.  We tell it to our loved ones. We base our identity on our stories. This can help, when the plot drives us forward, or hurt when it shackles us in place.

I’m sure many young men in the Philadelphia suburbs picked up a ball pretending they were Kobe.  I saw a tweet saying, “How many of us crumple up a wad of paper and shoot it into the trash can saying ‘Kobe’ as we let go?” Carter does this all the time.

Not many are influential enough to change the lexicon of society. Sports offer hope and lessons.  They teach the value of work.  For every shot Kobe took in a darkened gym alone, he made many more under the lights of the NBA.

If there’s anything we can take from all this, that is the bottom line. What we do in the shadows plays out in the light. What we do alone writes our story in public. Small efforts expand in big ways.

Before he made it, Bryant could have walked away more than once.  He could have stopped, hit the snooze button on the alarm and went back to bed. He lived a life where that wasn’t acceptable and reached the pinnacle of his game.

Rest well Kobe. Your legend lives on.

Find Your Audience

One of the most important things we can do as parents, men, and believers is to find our audience.  We’re told to go, make disciples of the world. We are touched on the heart with the mission to share our faith and be present.

You may be thinking, what can I do?

Check out this article posted today at Bleacher Report.

Carl Lentz is a former college basketball player who found his way into ministry.  He connected with Hillsong church and helped to open their first US location in New York City. He also made friendships with some of the top stars in the NBA.

Lentz has officiated funerals for the families of NBA players, married players to their spouses, and even baptized Kevin Durant in the pool at his home.

So what can we learn from this athlete turned preacher/advocate?

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Photo Credit: Fuzzy Images via Compfight cc

Appearance doesn’t matter. The article mentions Lentz’s tattoos and mohawk haircut, even quoting one NBA player as being impressed that Lentz was not another “old white guy” behind a pulpit.

You are equipped for your ministry.

I’ll say it again, you are equipped for your ministry.  Your appearance, whether buttoned up or casual, relates you to an audience.  Never count yourself out because of your looks.

Size doesn’t matter. Hillsong NYC has eight services on a Sunday. They are located near Madison Square Garden. For NBA players in the city, it is a perfect spot. Your church may not match Hillsong’s size, yet those walking through the doors are there for a reason. I believe God draws people close every week.

Be prepared to reach out, whether your church is eighty or 8,000 people. Your handshake and hug may be the one that makes a difference in the lives of a new visitor.

-Your connection is already there. Lentz was a former college basketball player at N.C. State.  That gave him an instant bond over basketball. What do you do for a living? Find a community related to your talents and profession. If you are a contractor, you’ll have a bridge of connection with other construction people in your area.  If you are a lawyer, check out the law offices.

Find your peers and serve with them.  Lentz takes players to local homeless shelters to distribute food. He had players working with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, some driving to construction sites directly after practice.

Lentz shares the language of basketball.  Your language, whatever it may be, can be valuable to lift up and encourage those friends and family around you and that is our true calling.

We must make a difference and the time to start is now. You are in the perfect place and time.

Think about that and take the first step.

~Matt