Raising Spiritual Champions
Some call it the next Daniel Generation. Others say we need to more intentionally raise the next generation of Moses, St. Paul, Esther, and other prominent Biblical figures who were the world changers of their time.
However, let's not forget the One as we raise The Next Generation of Christian leaders; our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Regardless of how you label the Raising up the next generation of leaders, the critical point is this: How do you raise Christian Leaders like the Biblical figures of the past in current culture?
What educational institutions or programs intentionally raise the next generation of faith-based, character-driven, transformational leaders? Who will become part of the Next Generation of Christian Leaders?
Raising Spiritual Champions seems like a lofty and unattainable goal on the surface until you see up close and personal students who display tremendous leadership potential on and off the field.
I've seen these young leaders up close and personal in action for many years now. Many great potential faith-based leaders are waiting in the wings. It's up to you and me to help lead, mentor, and point the way for the next generation of Christian leaders.
The current generation of potential leaders faces a much different world than their parents and grandparents. There are many new challenges to overcome that are unique to the current generation.
For me, running and track and field are activities that provide a venue for much more than just getting fit or running fast. I see our sports and activities as ways to help young aspiring faith-based leaders to find their gifts and inner grit in some incredible and life-changing ways. In other words, running and other fitness activities are one way to help young person develop their God-given potential.
Our sports and activities are a place to coach, teach young people how to set lofty goals, to learn how to persevere amid challenging circumstances, to develop grit, to learn all things are possible through Christ, and to experience what it feels like to be a barrier-breaking in ways they never thought possible.
I have spent years thinking about and working on reaching the current generation about the importance of becoming the transformational Christian leaders of the future through my coaching practice.
This is the primary reason why I still work in a Christian school environment. I see the unquestionable need to help develop character-driven leaders in our society. I believe a Christian school environment, including our running and track and field programs, is a great place to help make all of this happen.
No, you will never develop perfect leaders because, as leaders ourselves, our imperfections come through loud and clear to others around us. However, those who consistently put the needs of others before their own and who are not afraid to take a stand on the issues of the day are potential leaders of the future.
Love for God, Love for Others, Courage, Character, and grit are end outcomes of what we try to coach and teach each day.
Sometimes we have succeeded at conveying the importance of becoming a world-changing Christian leader in my coaching practice through running, while other times, we have failed.
In life, you don't always reach 100 percent success. Like I tell the students I coach, though: You only have three choices in life, give up, give in, or give it all you've got.
Choose the last option if you want to become a transformational leader who makes a difference for Christ in this world. You'll never do any of the things mentioned above all perfectly, but you will still become a champion for Christ through his mercy, grace, forgiveness, and most of all, His love.
One thing is sure; I won't give up on these goals in some capacity until I leave this earth. Our culture desperately needs character-driven faith-based leaders who want to love, help, and serve others.
Team Mission, Goals, and Core Values
This section outlines the mission and core values of the JPII cross-country and track and field programs.
Mission, goals, and keeping our values intact are always a work in progress. In other words, we never do any of these things entirely right. However, each year's goal is to get better and live out our mission and values to the best of our ability.
The mission of JPII Running and Track and Field coaches is to help high school student-athletes reach their God-given potential physically, mentally, academically, and spiritually through Cross-Country and Track and Field sports.
We fulfill our mission by:
Working with student-athletes who want to reach their God-given potential regardless of ability level
Teaching key life lessons through the sports of cross-country and track and field
Educating student-athletes and their parents about scholarship opportunities
Helping student-athletes identify their unique gifts in all life areas (Spiritual, career, life skills, etc.)
Building champions and championship teams to develop leaders and leadership skills
Mentoring student-athletes in their faith
Creating an environment where student-athletes have a lot of fun with their teammates
Striving for excellence by creating one of the best cross-country and track and field programs around
Exceeding school, state, and national student-athlete academic standards
Passion For Authentic Christian Leadership
We believe in developing exceptional Christian Student-athletes who will make a difference for Christ in their chosen profession. Athletics is an essential tool to help young adults build character and world-class leadership skills.
Christ At The Center
Christ is at the center of our programs. We are committed to helping student-athletes grow in their faith and live it out daily.
Service For Others
Service and servant leadership go hand in hand as a part of the athletic experience. Each Student-athlete gives back to the local community in meaningful ways.
Practical Life Skills
Athletics provides a forum to use the leadership, academic, and life skills learned in the classroom. We take lessons learned in the classroom and apply them in practical ways on the road to accelerate and reinforce classroom learning.
Part of leadership is thinking and doing things differently from the crowd. We teach, and coach student-athletes to think out of the box and blaze their unique life trail. Innovation is more than a word—it is a way of life in our thinking and actions.
Our daily actions in our running program focus on creating eternal value. We do our best to live our faith, embrace excellence, and go the extra mile to support teammates and others consistently. We also forgive each other when we make mistakes.
World changers need strong people skills. We teach and coach interpersonal skills, encourage one another and build long-term relationships.
Compassion And Strength
Effective leadership strikes a balance between strength and compassion. Jesus was compassionate, but he also displayed extreme strength depending on the situation. We want our student-athletes to learn and apply both traits.
We have a lot of fun along the journey and don't take ourselves too seriously. Having a good time with teammates is part of the athletic experience. Our interactive and fun learning environments are essential to our success on and off the field.
Belief And Confidence
Athletics provides an incredible learning forum different from any other educational environment. Student-athletes learn how to reach well beyond their perceived limitations and go beyond what they think is possible. When applied appropriately, this confidence and belief carry over to the classroom and into the workplace.
Key Distinctions About Our Programs:
We strategically use running and track and field as a tool to help build character in future Christian Leaders.
Academic and Athletic excellence is encouraged, embraced, and closely integrated. Both disciplines provide incredible leadership value throughout each student-athlete lifetime.
We learn by doing. Athletes apply what they learn in the classroom on the road by participating in various community service initiatives or team activities to reinforce academic learning. This approach accelerates learning, helps each student-athlete grow spiritually intellectually, and exponentially strengthens leadership skills.
We coach athletes to become compassionate and servant leaders in life. We are also committed to world-class excellence in our running and leadership programs.
Community and other leaders serve as guest speakers to help mentor student-athletes in essential areas of life. We also actively educate parents and our athletes about academic and athletic scholarship opportunities so they can continue to develop as Christian leaders in college.
Student-athletes transition well from their athletic experience from our programs to college and their career. Many student-athletes experience "athlete transition" after their athletic careers. Athletic transition is a grieving process related to losing an athletic career. We recognize this issue and help each athlete navigate this transition as this issue comes to the surface.