Championships, satisfaction and why winning isn’t enough

January 11, 2016

Inspirational words from a great coach have the power to transform unlike anyone else’s in a young person’s life. I can still remember words spoken to me by my Dad when he coached my little league teams. Words on fundamentals like “thumb to thumb” and “pinky to pinky” when teaching me how to catch a baseball above and below my waist, respectively.

He also used to tell our teams, “If I holler at you, that means I love you.” He wanted us to know he had to be loud for us to hear him at times, but more importantly, that he loved us enough to care that we do things the right way. I pray I have the opportunity to coach my sons one day and use those same phrases.

There’s a special bond between player and coach, especially if the coach has earned the team’s respect. I see this sort of bond between the two coaches and teams preparing for the NCAA College Football Playoff Championship game. It’s energizing seeing videos of Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney giving his B.Y.O.G. (Bring Your Own Guts) Speech, or Nick Saban talking to the press last season about his passion for giving players a second chance. Both have a gift for inspiring and calling their players to another level.  

Learning about winning from John Candy

But even more than the words of these special coaches, the most transformative words that I’ve ever heard come out of a coach’s mouth were from none other than John Candy.

Yes, you read that right, actor John Candy.

He played Coach Irv Blitzer in the 1990s Disney hit film Cool Runnings. It is based on a true story about a group of guys from the tiny tropical island of Jamaica who aspire to compete in the winter Olympic sport of bobsledding. This group of guys does, in fact, qualify for the Olympics, and they make a run at winning a medal. And the night before their final race, an exchange takes place between the team’s leader, Derice, and Coach Irv.

Prior to coaching this team, Irv had been an Olympic bobsledder himself. He had even won two gold medals for the U.S. But at his last Olympics, he was disqualified for hiding weights in the bottom of his sled to make it run faster.

The night before the Jamaican team’s final race, Derice just has to ask Irv why. Their conversation goes something like this:

Derice: Coach, can I ask you something? You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to but . . .

Irv: You wanna know why I cheated, right?

Derice: Yes I do.

Irv: It’s quite simple really. I had to win. You see Derice, I had made winning my whole life, and when you make winning your whole life you have to keep on winning, no matter what. Do you understand?

Derice: No I don’t, you had two gold medals, you had it all . . .

Irv: Derice, a gold medal is a wonderful thing, but if you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.

So Derice naturally asks the question, “How will I know if I’m enough?”

He’s got to be thinking to himself, “Then what’s the secret to contentment—because if even winning a gold medal isn’t enough, then I’m in trouble. What could possibly fill the void left following both a demoralizing defeat or a miraculous triumph?” When he’s on top of the world or flat on his face, he wants to know, is there something that transcends worldly outcomes or his own performance that can suffice to settle and satisfy his soul?

I remember watching this in the movie theater when it first came out—on a school night with my Dad when I was seven or eight (getting to go to a late movie on a school night was a big deal!). And I remember my Dad nodding with approval after these words spoken by Coach Irv. I knew deep down even then that they were true, but it still took a little over a decade before I realized how I could be enough.

The secret of contentment apart from performance

None of us can be enough, in and of ourselves. We need something outside of us to give us the type of strength necessary for contentment. Paul echoes this in Philippians 4, where he writes at the end of verse 11 and following, “For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

If Paul were playing in the National Championship game, he would not let the outcome of this game or his own performance in it dictate his fixed state of contentment. He would know that he is not enough, in and of himself, regardless of how well he or his team plays. What he does will never be enough, just like it wasn’t for Irv, to fill the void that haunts all who build their life on the shifting sands of performance.

Through Christ, he would go into the championship game—or any situation—with the settled confidence and soul satisfaction that his identity and self-worth are not based on what takes place on the gridiron in Glendale, Arizona in 2016. Instead, they are based on what has already taken place on a cross over 2,000 years ago outside the city walls of Jerusalem, and in a vacant garden tomb a few days later.

May all the players and coaches, as well as those of us watching, learn like Paul and Coach Irv that championships are a wonderful thing—but to be enough with or without one, you need the strength of a Savior, the God-Man, Jesus Christ. He will welcome all who turn from their own devices and trust in him alone to save and strengthen.

Brooks Kimmey

Brooks has been pastoring at FBC Robinson since July of 2016. Prior to this, he served as a Student Minister in Allen, TX and a Pastoral Resident in Franklin, TN. He is a graduate of Baylor University and Dallas Theological Seminary, and enjoys life and ministry alongside his beautiful wife … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24