As a football coach, I tell parents my job is to assist them with the development of their sons into being men who are tough, disciplined and draw upon the Lord for moral and spiritual guidance.
Football is a sport which provides a player many opportunities to display toughness. For me, toughness is the physical and mental strength to do whatever it takes to get the job done. The difficulty of the task is not an obstacle which can't be overcome.
Toughness is a skill. It can be developed. One is not born tough. They become tough through embracing difficult challenges and overcoming them. This is why we never Coach each player the same. They are all on their own journey to become tough and it is the job of the coach to help the athlete build this skill.
This is not a skill developed by having a larger player plow into a smaller player. It is not a skill developed through excessive conditioning or better genetics. As a matter of fact, some of the toughest people on the planet are Navy seals and I recently heard one attest to the fact that the opposite is true.
He stated that he did not know who would make it as a Seal. However, he did say that he knew who would NOT make it. The incredible athlete, the gym rat who is a physical specimen, and the “know it all” intellectual will not make it.
None of those individuals have the toughness to overcome adversity. They have followed a path less challenged where they were always at the top. Seals find themselves constantly at the bottom, close to defeat where options are limited. They have to dig deep and rely upon their teammates to get them over the top.
It is this commitment to something bigger than oneself and a willingness to serve something greater than themselves which hones their toughness. God calls us to be tough as well. Paul writes,
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16
Paul, throughout his gospel, encourages the churches and their leaders to be tough. He is emploring each of us to fight the fight of faith. We are to call out evil wherever it exists and to speak the truth as it is presented in the bible.
Defending and promoting the Christian worldview is not for the faint of heart. To adhere to the Gospel and to espouse it in our lives takes a toughness and moral fortitude that must be forged through serving others.
Christians will take the path less traveled, we will risk being offensive and contrarian because the Gospel and God's law are not in alignment with many elements of our culture. The enemy attempts to draw us away from the biblical standard and we must be tough enough to overcome his temptations.
As a coach, I must schedule hard teams, allow player's to call their own plays, choose their own leaders and a host of other responsibilities whereby each player and the team potentially face adversity. I must give them the keys to success and failure and then be willing to stand back and let what happens unfold.
Through extreme ownership, they will become tough; and, their toughness will forge character; and, their character will help them to fight, the fight of faith, throughout their lives.