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From Promise to Fulfillment

Updated: Dec 22, 2020

The countdown to Christmas has begun in our house!

We have all of the trees decorated (yes, we have more trees than we do treadmills) and our 8-year-old Zoomed with Santa with glee last week! Fun stuff!

The holiday season has all of us in a state of flux somewhere between excitement and disappointment, knowing this year will look very different than others.

My sister and her family have cancelled their trip home. Hosting 35 – 40 family members for Christmas dinner is out the door, and no Christmas Eve service for us for the first time in decades!

But even so, the Christmas spirit remains and the story is one of hope!

Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas or share the same beliefs as I do, this Christmas story shared in this week's sermon got me thinking about that space between PROMISE and FULFILLMENT and there is a message in it for all leaders.

Most of us are familiar with the story of the PROMISE of Christmas. It wasn’t all bright stars and wise men bringing gifts.

There was a jealous king, no room in the in, the explanation of being miraculously pregnant…leading to a brutal death. All to FULFILL the PROMISE.

Our players deal with some troubles on the road between PROMISE and FULLFILLMENT, too!

Although our stories will most likely not be repeated for centuries, the gap between PROMISE and FULFILLMENT can be a bit rocky!

All of this made me think this diagram I saw last year when reading about goals and performance.


As Mike Candrea, Head Softball Coach at Arizona once said in a presentation, “your first day of practice in college will be your best – it’s all downhill from there.” True…for or a while, at least!

He knows what we have all faced. You go in with a ton of hope and BOOM, the bottom drops out and it is a battle to get back to where you started!

We start with a GOAL or a PROMISE - we are filled with hope and excitement - and we expect the FULFILLMENT to happen with little pain or discomfort. But it is never that easy!

Heck, coaches are a part of this cycle every single year.

We bring in wide-eyed prospects turned student-athletes, get them all pumped up to be a part of our program. Then the first week of practice has them calling home and thinking we are nuts!

The Christmas story demanded faith…. believing in something you cannot see.

Our athletes’ stories are similar! They must learn to believe in stuff, too! Their teammates, their coaches, the game plan they have yet to be a successful part of as a player.

Most importantly, the must believe in themselves. Even thought this is the only thing they have complete control over, it is the HARDEST PART of the whole story because they find themselves in the dip of work/troubles!

Once they fall off that PROMISE/HOPE cliff down into the WORK/TROUBLES area, their thoughts, emotions, actions and results all suffer.

Here is where reminding them that no growth happens without work, and maybe a little pain, goes a long way. Just sharing this diagram can be helpful because it is the story of EVERY HUMAN ON EARTH!

Yes, you will get to FULFILLMENT…if you WORK and deal with all the TROUBLE that gets thrown at you in the meantime.

Do this and you come out the other side better than you started. That upward line will continue off the page!

As we look forward to our future, whether that be the next two hours or decades, we have to acknowledge that not everything will go our way. I’d say 2020 has made this very clear!

If we wake up each day and realize that at least 2 things will go wrong in the day, we are not nearly as frustrated or thrown off our game than if we think everything will go as we want it to.

Sometimes we will have to be ready to work a little harder, take a different approach or figure out what we can control and focus only on those factors. We need a plan for our possibly disrupted plan!

This sounds like negative thinking, but it is actually giving us confidence that we can deal with whatever comes our way because we are ready to battle disruptions!

This is all easier said than done, but having a conversation about moving from PROMISE to FULFILLMENT or HOPE to WORK to CONFIDENCE can reduce some anxiety that comes from facing hardship in the unpleasant phase of the cycle!

The Christmas story had a happy ending. Our player’s stories can, too.

Help them keep the faith by reminding them that all great stories have a space between.

They get to decide the trajectory of the line coming out of the other side! A simple acknowledgement of work and trouble as normal factors and being ready to face them can go a long way!


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