adjective | ab•so•lute | \ˈab-sə-ˌlüt
: Free from imperfection. Pure, outright, unmitigated, free from mixture.
As many of you know, I coach a group of junior triathletes in my hometown. These kids and young adults are great. They’re a hard working, passionate, and coachable. Lately however, we’ve been dealing with the fact that our team has rules, and there are consequences for those rules not being followed. I have several rules on our team that tend to be the topic of much discussion from time to time. Rules like, no cell phones, be prepared, always listen, be ten minutes early, do your best, and always represent Jesus. I’m known for being firm on these rules and excuses just aren’t acceptable. I’m convinced that the pillars of who we are as a team should be “absolute” for anyone to associate those qualities with us. Notice that none of these rules have anything to do with being fast, but often being fast is the result.
Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed that one of my rules has begun to loose it’s meaning, and honestly, much of the blame can fall to me. It was the rule of being prepared. If you know anything about the sport of triathlon, you know that it takes a lot of preparation. There are three sports with three sets of gear, three environments in which you exercise, and simply put, three areas in which you can be unprepared. I’ve told our athletes that their gear bag should always be prepared for their sport when they show up for practice, and their sport is triathlon. It’s not swimming, biking, OR running, it’s swimming, biking, AND running. Sure, on most days we are only doing one discipline, but there are days when we as coaches decide to work on something else, and our athletes need to be ready. Long story short, I call it the One Bag Rule.
As I mentioned, this rule as of late, has begun to lose it’s meaning, and it’s because I had not done my part in making it “absolute”. Athletes were approaching me saying they had forgot this or that because it was in a different bag or because they didn’t know that we were doing a certain workout. I had allowed my lack of “absolute” consequences to begin eroding one of the things our team stood for, preparedness. It was time for a change!
I sat all of our athletes down and explained why I had always had the One Bag Rule and that going forward this rule would be “absolute”. There would be no excuses, and that failure to have all their gear in one bag at every practice will result in them watching everyone from the bench at that particular practice. Wouldn’t you know that at the very next practice three athletes showed up without some of their gear? They were devastated to know that while everyone was hitting the trails to run, they would be sitting at a picnic table silently while processing the fact that they would be doing their workout later that evening alone. To them it seemed harsh. To me, I could sense the judgment from being what seemed irrational. But at the end of the day, I fully understand one “absolute” truth about the sport of triathlon, your career, your education, and your life. If you are not prepared, you will not be successful. Vince Lombardi may have said it best when he said, “The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.” That is “absolute” truth.
So let me get to my point.
Society today says there is no “absolute” truth. It says that there is no black or white, but rather, gray is the safe place to be. It also suggests that rules are merely suggestions, and consequences, well there is no place for those. Society these days says to do what feels good, not what is right. It’s your life, live it how you want. Today, it almost seems that apathy is to be desired rather than avoided.
Let me be completely blunt about the growing trend of how society views “absolute” truth. It is wrong! It is wrong because along with “absolute” truth come “absolute” consequences.
If you’re apathetic to your job, it will lead to termination.
If you’re apathetic to your spouse, it will lead to misery or worse.
If you’re apathetic to your beliefs, it will lead to confusion.
If you’re apathetic to your schooling, it will lead to failure.
If you’re apathetic to your community, it will lead to displacement.
If you’re apathetic to Jesus Christ, it will lead to an eternity separated from Him.
God’s word is clear. It say’s in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or WHATEVER you do, do it for the glory of the Lord.” In short, this passage is saying that everything we do should be done in a way that brings honor and glory to God as if he were physically standing there watching us. How many times have you seen someone do something in someone’s honor? There is no apathy there! Whatever it is they are doing, they do it with everything they have. In 2014, a gentleman by the name of Bob Natoli, along with his son and son-in-law, held a fitness fundraiser in honor of a young lady who had been killed by a drunk driver. That day those three men broke 6 world records. No apathy there! These men set an example of how we should honor God in everything we do.
In closing, I would associate the word apathy with being lukewarm. You’re not hot, you’re not cold, and you really just don’t care. Jesus has a clear message for those who try and bring this attitude to a relationship with him. He says in Revelations 3:15, “I know your works, that you are neither cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” Jesus wants “absolute” followers.
Today, live your life free from apathy and rooted in absolute truth. Be hot toward the things that matter and cold toward the things that don’t. Stand firmly and proudly on the convictions you know to be “absolute” but the world says are irrational. Be a leader of Biblical principals and not a follower of worldly desires. Be the person who doesn’t participate in idle chatter so that when you do speak people listen. Be the person that people look at and say, “There’s something different about them, and I want it.” Be a reflection of Jesus Christ.