After serving as an outreach pastor for 14 years, I’ve seen the challenges that hurt and mistrust can cause – especially with coaches and athletes who feel things very deeply. This can make connecting with them all the more challenging.
This is why Kip Wellman’s words below at the 2nd Annual Charity Dinner touched me so deeply and really highlights so much of my memories over this past year. Here is a portion of that speech, on a very special night for me:
“My name is Kip Wellman and I am the Director of Basketball Operations at Syracuse… [As I] read about the history of FCA, I came across the methods FCA promotes.
Engage (1st Thessalonians 2:8)
From the first day that [William Payne] joined our program, he put in tireless hours engaging with our student athletes, building relationships and gaining trust. Will was there every day – not just on the days when it was convenient or when we were playing Duke. EVERY day, every practice, every game, every road trip – he was there. That is how you build relationships with young men.
EQUIP (Ephesians 4:12)
As we got further into the season, I noticed that the groups became a little bigger, the meetings became more frequent and I realized our guys were starting to look to Will for guidance in whatever was happening in their life, good or bad. On or off the court. Will, through FCA, was starting to Equip our student athletes on how to address their issues through the Word.
EMPOWER (2nd Timothy 2:2)
The last “E” if you will is empower. And this is the method that really hit home with me. Not only was FCA using the Word to equip our guys to handle adversity and success alike, but it was also empowering them to go out and help others with their daily struggles. Help teammates, help family members, girlfriends, and friends. And to me, that is the greatest tool our student athletes can leave Syracuse with – empowerment.”
Kip’s words on this night, while unforgettable, will always serve to remind me of the confirmation of God’s calling on my life as well as why I continue to do the job that I do.
In the end, loving people means to serve them and never giving up – loving people for who they are and not what they do. But this takes time, patience and a lot of listening. I never want to be that hindrance that gets in the way of hope. Rather, be a conduit of that hope and a pathway for victory in Christ.