Tag Archives: team

HUMILITY FROM THE BENCH

When I was growing up, I was a very shy, quiet boy who didn’t like being in the spotlight. I guess some things just don’t seem to change with time because I’m still pretty much the same to this day.

However, when I was nine-years old (about a thousand years ago), I was brave enough to start playing organized baseball in the Orangeburg city league. The team consisted of players ranging in age from nine to twelve. I felt blessed to have athletic skills that allowed me to compete on an equal footing with the older players.

Although many coaches and fellow players often told me I was a very good baseball player, I didn’t make the all-star team that year. Our coach told me I had played well enough to make the elite team, but he needed to select the older players to be on the team because it was their last year to play in the league. He told me he expected good things from me the next year. (I don’t recall jumping for joy at that moment.)

The pain I felt that day for not making the all-star team was far greater than any pain I had felt to that point in my life. I guess one could say I was devastated, but I continued practicing to get even better for the next season.

I was ten-years old when my second year of baseball started and my dad was an assistant coach for the team. Obviously, I wanted to play well and make him proud of me. The season began and I was having another good year. My hitting and fielding performances were helping the team win games, and I was happy Dad was proud of me.

It was near the middle of the season and I had performed well to that point. I guess I must have started thinking I was the best player on the team, maybe in the world, and we couldn’t win a game unless I was playing. You would probably be right saying that my self-confidence had started exceeding my abilities. That’s never a good thing, especially for a shy, quiet kid who didn’t like being in the spotlight.

Then, like a bolt of lightning struck me, I had an experience that changed my life to this day. However, I had no idea how significant the moment was at the time it was happening those many years ago. I didn’t even know what life-lesson I was learning at that time, and definitely didn’t know the word used to describe the emotion/virtue I was experiencing.

We had the second game one night and our team started warming up as the first game was nearing completion. I was feeling fine and confident, but for some strange reason I told Dad that I wasn’t feeling well. He told me to sit on the bench for a few innings to see if I started feeling better. That wasn’t exactly what I wanted to hear him say. I was hoping it would be something more like, “Son, we need you out on the field so we can win the game. You’re our star player!” (There are probably a few more self-accolades I could bestow upon myself, but I don’t want you to experience uncontrollable laughter.)     

We only had ten of our team’s fourteen players at the game that night, so I was the lone player sitting on the bench when our team took the field. Watching my teammates run out onto the field made me feel like my little world was ending. I had never been a bench-warmer before and hadn’t practiced that position—I didn’t know what I was supposed to do.

When the first inning ended, our defense had held the other team scoreless and we had scored two runs. Our team played very well and all my teammates were laughing and having a great time—except poor little me. (I realize how pitiful that sounds, but I was only ten-years old, so give me a break. At least I wasn’t crying because Dad told me a long time ago that big boys don’t cry.)

After several innings were in the scorebook, Dad asked me how I was feeling. I told him I was feeling great and wanted to enter the game. I was shocked when he, in a no nonsense tone, told me to stay on the bench. The game ended with me still sitting on the bench, but our team won—without me! How could that be possible? I was the best player on the team. (Yeah, right! I don’t even believe that, so I know you can’t.)   

To this day, I really don’t know why I pulled this ridiculous stunt because I was not sick at all that night. I guess I just wanted to hear the coaches and teammates begging me to play. I wanted to be the hero who helped my team win the game. I didn’t know whether I was mad at myself or everyone else after that game. I just know I had a horrible feeling inside of me for what I had done, but I didn’t actually know why at that moment.

During the ride home, Dad talked (preached might be a better description) to me about what it meant to be a member of a team and how we should always give our best for the team in all that we do. He told me it was okay to be proud of our personal accomplishments, but we should never place ourselves above others, especially when we’re part of a team—win as a team and lose as a team! His message slowly started penetrating my selfish brain—I was embarrassed more than you can imagine.

In retrospect, I feel certain Dad knew the whole time that there was nothing physically wrong with me. He was too wise and knew me too well to fall for that dumb trick. He just sensed that my head had swollen far beyond my abilities and used the bench-warming experience to teach me an important life-lesson—the importance of HUMILITY in our lives. For that, I am now grateful he did because that life-lesson has served me well for many years! Life is much better when you have both feet firmly planted on the ground of reality.

Now, it’s time to read a few Bible verses to learn what it teaches us about this thing known as HUMILITY.

2 Chronicles 7:14

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Luke 14:11

For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Proverbs 11:2

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

Philippians 2:3-4

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.  

********************

It’s now your time in the spotlight. I want you to consider the following points before you go rushing back to your busy day.

1. Pause for a moment and reflect on some life-lessons your parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, and/or teachers taught you when you were growing up?

2. Do you think the approach my Dad used to teach me about humility was good or bad method?

3. How would you handle a similar situation?

4. Are you pleased with your current level of humility? If not, do you plan to change your ways?

Blessings to you as you allow the humility within your heart to be a light in the darkness for those around you. I pray that your HUMILITY spreads to others, for that would make the world a much better place for everyone.

Tom Tatum – Feb 2021

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A SEASON TO REMEMBER

There comes a time in life when you realize you are witnessing something special—something that exceeds all expectations thought possible—something unbelievable. A time in life when all you can say is “WOW! This is incredible!”

That time came my way this year as I watched a group of young men playing high school football for a small AAA school in South Carolina—Pinewood Preparatory School—a school that teaches students from prekindergarten through high school to excel in college and life.

PPSBelieve1

When a team’s motto is BELIEVE, you should know to expect the unbelievable. That’s how life works, and it is special when it happens.

So, what happened? Well, a football program that was winless a few years ago beat the odds and played for the 2015 South Carolina State Championship. That’s right—the State Championship! It didn’t happen because the players walked around with a “lucky buckeye” in their pockets. It happened because these players and coaches had a dream to rise from the ashes of the past and become winners.

They worked hard for many hours, days, weeks, and months pursuing their dream because they BELIEVED! Each individual BELIEVED in self, each other, and most importantly, the TEAM. A group of individuals came together as one and beat the odds by winning, and winning again.

Each victory brought more fans onboard and the “Friday Night Lights” stands began to fill with students, teachers, friends, parents, grandparents, and relatives. BELIEVE became the battle cry of all who shared in the joy for the efforts of a group of young men—young men who were dedicated to a cause and a dream. The atmosphere of the crowd was electrifying and served to embolden these young men to do more—to push harder and harder—to make their dream become reality.

Success breeds success and the whole community began reaching out in support of the little team that could. Newspapers published articles reporting the success of the team, players and coaches. It was a magical time in the lives of young men who were grinding it out on the field week after week. They strived to get better each week, and their efforts to do so were rewarded.

The spectacular 11- 1 season closed with the state championship game played on Saturday, November 21, 2015. Although the team came up just a tad short that night, they finished with a very respectable record of 11 – 2, and second place overall in the state. It was truly a remarkable accomplishment!

The players, coaches, and fans have every reason to hold their heads high. The TEAM that BELIEVED made it to the grandest stage of all—the STATE CHAMPIONSHIP! Congratulations to all of you on a job well done! Be proud of your accomplishment! I can assure you the community and the entire Pinewood Prep family is very proud of you!

As the grandparent of two players on the team, I wish to express my sincere thanks to every player and coach for your efforts this year. I BELIEVE in each of you—yesterday, today, and tomorrow! The memories you created will last a lifetime, and for that, I am truly grateful. I wish each of you nothing but the best going forward.

Always BELIEVE in yourself, the TEAM, and pursue your dreams with passion! With hard work, dedication, and perseverance, anything is possible!

BELIEVE and make next year even better…

#BELIEVE #success #team

Tom Tatum – Author of Faith-based Novels

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TEAM – A FOUR-LETTER WORD

TEAM – a simple four-letter word a child can say without getting into trouble—no matter how young they are. In fact, the sooner a child understands the importance of the TEAM concept, the better. The old cliché “all for one and one for all” might be a bit trite, but when it comes to TEAM, it’s an absolute requirement for success! Otherwise the team fades into a blur…

TeamBlurred

Every person (player) on a team has God-given talents and they should use those talents to the best of their ability to help contribute to the overall outcome of the team. Adults should teach youth to play as a team—to win as a team—to lose as a team. If a child’s talents vaults him/her to shining-star status, that’s great for the player and the team, but the child should remain true to the team concept.

Unfortunately, being a good team player is not always easy for our youth—thoughts of “self” takes control of the mind sometimes. The following personal experience is a perfect example of the importance of each individual’s contribution to the team.

Throughout my youth, I thought I was a good team player. I played on baseball teams for many years; I was confident that I knew the team concept very well. Sometimes I was a shining-star and sometimes I was the goat, but I always supported my teammates and the team above self. However, when I participated in a Leadership/Team-Building exercise as a teenager, the results were most humbling. I allowed “self” to cloud my judgment.

THE EXERCISE

I was involved in an exercise on a team consisting of six guys seated at a round table. For this particular task, the instructor gave each person a puzzle consisting of ten pieces. The object was for all six members of the team to assemble their individual puzzles as fast as possible. The one condition given to us was there could be no talking among team players, but all players could use gestures.

The clock started and I completed my ten-piece puzzle very quickly. I sat there wondering why the other players were having such a hard time completing the simple task. Each of them had all but one of their pieces in place. I shrugged my shoulders at them in a gesture of “come on guys—what’s wrong with you people? Time is running out!” They all began pointing at my completed puzzle, raised their index finger, and then pointed back toward themselves. Remember—no talking allowed.

TeamPuzzle

Several minutes passed, and their gestures became a bit more animated. A few more minutes passed and the instructor asked me if I was finished.

“Sir, yes, Sir!” I replied

“Are you sure about that, Mr. Tatum?”

Yes, I was sure; the puzzle was right in front of me. Was the instructor blind? I replied, “Sir, yes, Sir! It was simple task, Sir! I don’t know why the other guys are having so much trouble with this, Sir.”

“Mr. Tatum, why do you think the other team members are pointing at your puzzle?”

“Sir, I guess they are in awe of how fast I completed my puzzle, Sir.”

The instructor then said, “Guys, Mr. Tatum’s performance caused all of you to be captured by the enemy. All of you are now prisoners of war. Your team failed the test and the future looks grim! Mr. Tatum failed to use his God-given talents to help the team.”

“Sir, what? What did I do, Sir? Sir, I completed my puzzle! I did my part, Sir!”

The instructor then proceeded to explain to the class the results of my actions, or lack thereof. I felt as though lightning had struck the foundation of my perception of the TEAM concept. I was devastated—my poor judgement and performance caused our team to fail. I failed the team!

As it turned out, my puzzle had five pieces that were necessary for the others to complete their puzzles. They each had one piece that would fit perfectly into my puzzle if we exchanged one piece. The only way to complete the six puzzles was for me to exchange one piece with each of them.

TeamPuzzlePcs

The instructor came to me after class and said, “I know you’re feeling down on yourself, but don’t. You were “setup” to fail, which actually made the exercise a successful learning experience. It didn’t matter which one of you had the ‘key’ puzzle. Any of the other five would most likely have failed also. I’ve given this exercise to hundreds of people and they have all failed.

“Before the exercise started, I told the others you had one piece of their puzzle and they had one of yours. Their task was to convince you to exchange your piece for their “bad” piece. They all failed to do that, which accomplished the second objective of the exercise—failure of each individual. Had all of you completed the puzzles, there would be no lessons-learned.

“Remember my instruction to all of you—no talking, but gestures were acceptable. I didn’t place any restrictions on the type of gestures that were acceptable. Nor did I say the team players couldn’t ask me questions. Had each team member simply asked me if they could walk around the table and exchange their “bad” piece with you, all puzzles could have been completed. You were on the hot seat today by design, but the other five will have their turn there tomorrow. Rest well tonight, son. You did exactly what I expected you to do.”

The first lesson-learned was simply being part of a team is not enough. It takes much more than that. Each member must give their best and work for the good of the team in order for the team to be successful. When one player doesn’t support the others, the entire team will likely fail.

The second lesson-learned was a good team leader looks after all team members by anticipating their needs and making sure they have all the tools necessary to complete the task at hand. Help those who are struggling is a must. You should always believe in yourself and your abilities. However, when you start thinking that you are the shining-star and your teammates are useless, your mind closes to the needs of others. Your God-given gifts no longer serve the team—you become selfish.

The third lesson-learned was to be open-minded—think outside the box and do not impose unnecessary restrictions on yourself or the team. Examine each situation and consider ALL alternatives available to complete the task. Do not limit the possibilities that can lead to success.

I failed on all counts, but I learned those three valuable lessons in the process. Since that day, I have always given my best to support the team and all my teammates. Although the team may still fail, it won’t be because I failed to give one-hundred percent of my best. Self-imposed failure is not an option!

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NIV)

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

1 Corinthians 12:17-20 (NIV)

If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

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Feeling Blessed

Feeling Blessed

There are those among us who are making a difference in the lives of young people. I am truly thankful for those who do, and feel blessed when I hear about them. The following event will likely warm your heart.

Two of my grandsons are on the high school varsity football team. They have been practicing or strength training almost every day this summer. The evidence of their hard work is obvious by looking at their new physiques. However, what I am most proud of is the story they shared with me this week.

After a hot, exhausting football session Monday morning, a group of seven players, including my two grandsons, went to lunch at a local diner they had PrayingHandsnever been to. After their food arrived at the table, they blessed the meal before starting to eat. As hungry as they were, that’s truly amazing in itself. There were no coaches or parents around encouraging them to do this. They acted completely on their own.

Glad you can’t see me right now because I’m doing a “happy-dance” as I type this post! Trust me, it’s not a pretty sight, and I can assure you, “America’s Got Talent” is not likely to have me audition for the show. However, there are more reasons for me to be dancing.

What these players didn’t realize was others in the diner at the time noticed their open expression of faith. A gentleman walked over to their table and gave each of them a gold-colored coin with a cross and a dove on it. He told them he wanted to give it to them because they weren’t afraid to thank God in a public place. He blessed them and then left the diner.

Coins 2

The inscription on the cross side of the coin reads, “Mercy is when God spares you what you do deserve.” The inscription on the dove side reads, “Grace is when God gives you what you don’t deserve.

The story continues—as they tried to pay for their meals, the server told them the couple sitting at a nearby table had already paid the entire bill. They thanked the couple for their kindness and left the diner. The small gesture of their faith had touched the lives of others in a positive way.

The excitement in their voices as they told me the story was uplifting. They did not know the individuals who had expressed the acts of kindness. It is comforting to know that my grandsons and their friends are doing this, and kind people are going out of their way to reinforce the beliefs of our youth. It may take me a while before I stop doing my “happy-dance” for many reasons. I am so encouraged by stories like this.

God bless those strangers, the players, and all who are not afraid to show their faith in public.

Have a blessed day and give thanks before you start eating your meals—you can be God’s light to others also.

May God continue to bless America!

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

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