Thursday, January 05, 2006

The Extra Measure

At about 11:15 last night Angela was asleep next to me and my daughter Morgan was seated in a chair at the foot of our bed as the two of us watched the final moments of UT’s dramatic and exhilarating national championship win over USC in the Rose Bowl. All game I had watched with appreciation as these two outstanding teams fought gallantly for the upper hand, but I wasn’t rooting for either. Having lived in L.A. from 1994-2003, I became a fan of the Trojans, but my regional loyalty favored the Longhorns, with the net result that I had no clear favorite. That changed with about 5 minutes left in the game when I watched my sweet daughter cheering so hard for the Texas that I decided I wanted them to win for her J (As usual, she was not to be denied).

I was struck this morning by the summation of one sportswriter, who said, “USC was excellent, but UT was magnificent.” But of course one UT player was particularly magnificent, the new hero-of-the-universe, UT’s quarterback Vince Young.

Here is what I saw. I saw a superb athlete lift his game above the other superb athletes around him and give the extra measure that made all the difference. There is no other way I can put it: the guy physically and willfully undertook to win the game for his team, period. He was unstoppable. It was mesmerizing.

Now permit me to take this sports moment and, ahem, run with it.

I left that experience pondering how the extra measure can make so much difference. And here’s why that deserves our consideration. Most of us don’t have the extraordinary gifts (honed by years of work and discipline, of course) of Young, Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, Lendale White, et al.. But what difference could the extra measure make in our life?

What if we went from cooperating with our spouse to generously affirming and supporting her/him?

What if we went from tending to and cherishing our kids to lavishly loving and investing ourselves in them?

What if we went from being a steady and good friend to a fiercely loyal and giving one?

What if we went from being a respectable and responsible church member to a passionate and committed follower of Jesus?

Many times it’s that special, willful decision to give the extra measure that changes things dramatically. Certainly, you have to pick your spots – it’s impossible to give a 4.0 effort in everything. But what a difference it makes when you pick that spot.

The columnist George Will once observed that the function of sports in a society is to show us (and thereby inspire us to) excellence. And, once in a while, magnificence.


Blogger Eric Livingston said...

Howdy Matt! Just found your blog. I appreciate your writings!

You're right that you certainly can't give that 4.0 effort in everything. I think what elevates something to the level of magnificence is applying the 4.0 effort in an area where God given talents already exist.

Of course, we also have to consider what is truly important in our lives. For example, if encouraging my wife doesn't come naturally to me, I had better apply extra effort in that area of my life. I may not become a magnificent encourager to her, but because she is important to me I will put in the conscious effort to at least strive for excellence.

Thanks for your thoughts!

2:25 PM  
Blogger erinlo said...

I actually read this post in your church bulletin yesterday and really enjoyed it- gave me something to meditate on today.

10:54 AM  

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