Well, the college football regular season has all but ended. A few teams will be going to conference championships and several more have bowl games but for many, it is over. We are now in that time between the regular season and the bowls that is “firing season.” Universities across the country are firing coaches deemed to be unsuccessful. There is a rush to get your guy fired so you can compete with other schools to snap up one of the “good candidates” before somebody else does. It is the college football equivalent Black Friday shopper stampedes.
Here in North Carolina, NC State has fired its head coach, Tom O’Brien. His record this year was 7 wins and 5 losses with one astounding win (Florida State) and at least one puzzling loss (Virginia). In his career he probably made some good decisions and some bad ones. On the plus side, his tenure was not marked by any scandal that runs through the football world. He was a modestly successful coach at a middle-of-the-road football program. But now he is out. An overall record of 40 and 35 was deemed not good enough.
If you are an NC State fan this is huge news. It was the lead on the local news last night. If you are a college football fan it is an interesting but minor piece of news. If you don’t follow the sport you might be saying “Who cares?” about now. Personally, I have always wished State well but found that my life goes on pretty much as-is whether they win or lose.
We live in a culture of success. Have a modest coaching record and you are fired. Run a business that doesn’t make enough profit and you too are fired. If your church doesn’t meet growth and conversion expectations something is wrong. The real pain, in my opinion, comes at the personal level. We are taught unrealistic “success” models that we measure ourselves by. There is a desire to live in a world where everybody is above average and we can’t.
Thoreau said “most men live lives of quiet desperation” but I think today that most men (and women) live lives of quiet inadequacy. We have pictures in our heads of what success looks like and feel we don’t measure up.
– Moms feel the need to be supermoms and drive themselves to exhaustion trying to reach the goal. It matters not that there are a variety of goals; you can always find someone to tell you that you miss it.
– Men are told they need to be spiritual leaders in their homes, a term for which there are, at best, fuzzy definitions. It matters not that quiet, solid men feel they fall short because someone has placed an unrealistic definition of leadership in their heads.
– Churches paint pictures of “radical” discipleship that leave 90% of the members sure they are failing to make the grade.
O’Brien went into a role with his eyes open. He knew he could get fired for not meeting the standards his bosses set for him. Who sets your success standards? Are there impossible success goals in your head? Who put them there? If it was someone else, you need to stop listening to them. If you did it, take a deep breath and rethink those standards. If you think it was a gracious and loving God, ask yourself this – don’t the sheer numbers of we “average” people make you think that God loves the average so much that that He just keeps on making more of us?