Acts 4: 13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
The Canadian Track & Field community is small and tight so when someone passes away there is a good chance you knew them directly or at least indirectly. Coach Andy Higgins passed away recently. He’s a bit of a Godfather in the Canadian Track & Field community as he wrote and delivered the first formal coaching education/certification program in 1970; he coached in the 1984, 1988 and 1992 Olympics, including the first ever Canadian Olympic medal in the decathlon (Dave Steen) and coached Michael Smith’s world championship medals. While I did not know Andy personally, I knew of his coaching credentials and this past week many coaches who I know, had many impactful things to say about him. One of the most flattering compliments I have ever heard about a coach came from Carl Georgevski, University of Toronto’s head coach, who first met Higgins in 1969 as a grade nine student where Higgins taught physical education at the time.
“Andy was an incredible man. Gracious, compassionate and gentle, he touched the lives of so many young people. He literally changed our lives around for the better by showing us what’s possible. Like all great coaches, he had more confidence in our abilities than we did ourselves. Andy was the type of coach who always let the athletes take the credit for their incredible achievements. You would never find Andy with his arms around an athlete who had just won a meet, however you could always find him close to an athlete who just had a horrendous performance. He always made it perfectly clear that we were not our performance. Varsityblues.ca
A wise man once taught me to: “be careful who you follow; follow closely those whom you want to become”. It is clear from Georgevski’s comments and so many other reflections from athletes and coaches who were mentored by Higgins, that they wanted to become more like their mentor. When we read the New Testament and the formation of the Christian church, the concept of mimicking is a frequent one. Paul said: 1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Cor. 11:1). In the book of Hebrews, we are instructed to 7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. (Heb. 13:7). When I was given the advice to be careful who I follow, I was also given this scripture from Hebrews 13. To this day I contemplate this verse when I consider which church I attend with my family and which people I have speak into my life. I don’t expect perfection from these people, but I do expect that they would be men and women who would be willing to say: “follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ”. Some might say that this is arrogance and they are too humble to ever say such a thing. That, however, is false humility. Anyone saying that is actually unwilling to do the hard work in their own lives, unwilling to humble themselves to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, which will make them more similar to Christ, and therefore be trustworthy leaders.
13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13). For me, this is one of the most impactful and challenging verses in the Bible. When the world sees me, do they see someone who has been with Jesus? Do they see a disciple of Jesus? How about you?