Champion: A Person who voluntarily takes extraordinary interest in the adoption, implementation, and success of a cause, policy, program, project, or product. He or she will typically try to force the idea through entrenched internal resistance to change, and will evangelize it throughout the organization. These people are also known as change advocate, change agent, or idea champion. Champion definition source
It’s often said that our culture today, especially here in America, is increasingly selfish. We’re absorbed with ourselves, our events, our lives. That may be true to some extent, but as with any culture, you can find beacons of resistance, sub-cultures that seem to be a remnant of that which is thought lost. These small groups of people may not even know the others exist, yet they work towards a common goal because there is something deep inside them that moves them in that direction. A force to be reckoned with which will not allow them to deviate from mission, or stray their focus. In a world where selfishness abounds, I’m seeing an uprising of the word “team.” Groups of people who are assembling together, not because they agree, but because the refuse to allow their disagreements to cloud the larger task at hand.
In the business world, or marketplace, as some call it, the concept of the team approach has taken full effect in many large corporations. The question is why? Wouldn’t this waste time as the team members are seeking to fight for agreement? Wouldn’t this cause a decrease in efficiency because this increasingly selfish generation of millennials have a profound need to be seen or heard? Actually, it’s had quite the opposite effect. This grand experiment, which many of the world’s most innovative companies have taken on, has proven to be in itself, innovative. These teams are given equal parts freedom and boundary, causing the groups to spur on an incredible increase in creativity within large corporations. Not a simple task. This works because each group is outfitted with their own “champion”, as it were. Champion, as defined above, is someone who advocates strongly for innovative change. They are unrelenting in their pursuit, and unwilling to allow internal resistance to deviate them from the course.
In learning this, it immediately caused me to look toward my close knit group of friends. At first, I began asking “where are my idea champions?”, as if to put the responsibility on those closest to me. As with most great inner complaints of mine, the script was turned against me. I quickly realized that perhaps I’m to be a champion for someone else. Upon this grand revelation, the rush of unwarranted (and I might add, unwelcomed) humility began. This humility began to speak to me in almost a tangible way, all the while bringing to my remembrance the goals and dreams that my friends and family members have expressed to me in the not so distant past. They were good goals, and amazing dreams. Quite possibly dreams too big for them to accomplish, or at least so it would seem. As my loved ones hopes flashed before my mind’s eye I began to wonder what it would look like for me to help “champion” even just one of those dreams.
Our blogs, as of late, have covered great ground within the topic of identity. We’ve talked about discovering your God given identity by hearing the voice of God for yourself, walking in your identity, and being comfortable that the dreams in your heart are part of your identity. One thing we haven’t covered is that each dream, stemming from a discovery of one’s identity, is usually too great a task to complete alone. We need someone in our lives to help us believe that we can accomplish that crazy thing in our head that won’t leave us alone. Anyone that has started a great task, project, or journey and walked it out to completion knows this is true. We can’t do it by ourselves. We need a “Champion!”
Some might call the idea of championing, mentoring. Call it what you may, but the fact remains that we need each other, and in many cases that entails multiple people… a team! The recognition by some of the greatest business minds in this country attests to this. We need someone in our lives who will not allow us to quit. You know, that person that gets in your face when you’re determined to be done with it, and forces you to keep going because they believe in your identity more than you do yourself. They push against all internal resistance to forge innovation and creativity from the depths of someone’s heart.
Some of us might be in the part of our journey where we’re just now discovering our identity, and the dreams of our heart are coming into focus. If that’s you, then my challenge to you is to begin to ask God to place people in your life to help champion your dreams. However, if you’re in a season of life where you’ve been walking in your identity for some time now, then my challenge is simple: Be that person you needed when you were younger! In either case, the most Christ like manner we could live in is that which asks us to sacrifice our desires, dreams, and even lives for the hopes of others. So, even if you’re needing a mentor, perhaps you’ll find what you’re looking for by serving someone else in the manner you need to be served.
Here’s a brief, but true story of what an everyday champion might look like:
A pastor encountered a young man who was on the verge of losing his daughter and his wife. This man, we’ll call him John, had a terrible problem with anger. John’s anger stemmed from being a failed collegiate football player due to a serious injury. John was never very good in school, so football was his only hope. He was certainly bound for the NFL and a secure financial future. In a moment, that was all taken from him. Years passed, and by the time John encountered this pastor, he was hopeless. This pastor asked John, “Have you ever heard God speak to you?” John said, “I don’t know.” So the pastor asked John to simply ask God, “God how do you see me?” After a little bit of arm twisting John complied with the pastor’s request. After all, what did John have to lose, right? Upon asking God this question, John felt like he heard God speak for the first time. John said, “God showed me a picture of me as a family counselor, and I was helping broken families heal.” The pastor, knowing John’s current family situation, thought this might be John’s own consciousness. So, the pastor told John he might want to ask the question again! John did, and he was insistent that this is what he heard God say. The pastor’s reply to John was that if he wanted to pursue this new identity then he would have to return to college. John’s reply? “Hell no, I won’t!” College was the source of pain for John, so why would he subject himself to that? After all, he knew he would fail in school just like he always had. It was true what his 4th grade teacher said. She said, “John, I sure hope you’re good at sports because school’s just not your thing.”
So did John go back to school? He sure did, but he didn’t go by himself. His first semester back, John enrolled in a community college and registered for 1 class. It just so happened that this pastor also registered for the same class. The pastor went to every single class with John that semester. They studied together 3-4 times a week, and for the first time in John’s life…. He made an A! The next semester John registered for 3 classes, but the pastor did not register with him. Instead, that pastor, knowing that he couldn’t help John in a practical sense much longer, put John in touch with a friend who happened to be a family counselor. The counselor and pastor provided tutoring services for John during his 2nd semester. He made three A’s!
After his 2nd semester back in college it was time for John to enroll in a university. The closest, and most affordable option just happened to be the university where John had once played football. He marched in the Dean’s office with great confidence. The Dean remembered him well, and said, “John, I can’t let you in this school. Your grades just simply aren’t good enough.” With John’s new pastor friend by his side, John confidently defended himself and his new found academic prowess. After 30 minutes of debate, the Dean was so impressed with John’s passion that he decided to let him enroll on academic probation. That was okay with John.
To make this story short, over the next 3 years the pastor and family counselor helped tutor John through university. John graduated college and eventually when to grad school to study family counseling. He is now a licensed family counselor. Not only that, but his journey began to restore his relationship with his wife and daughter. John’s family is whole, and he is walking in a completely new identity.
John’s family legacy has been forever altered by one person’s willingness to give approximately 4 years of their life in a selfless pursuit of another person’s dream. His daughter will now remember her father as a loving dad, and his wife now has a loving husband. They will only have a faint memory of the angry person he used to be. As a matter of fact, when his daughter thinks about days before John, the family counselor, she’ll remember the sacrifice that someone else gave to help them find this new life. Who knows, she might even return the favor by helping someone else achieve their dreams. You see, when we decide to lay aside our plans for the benefit of another we are building something much further into the future than we could ever see. In helping someone walk in their God given identity, it’s as if we’ve helped them step into an alternate reality that they would not have experienced otherwise.
1 Corinthians 2:9 says this, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind has yet conceived the things that God has prepared for those that love him…”
The things our eyes haven’t seen might look more like things that were once impossible, but because of the Kingdom of God are now possible. If that’s the case, then, for John, the Kingdom of God looks like becoming a family counselor with a fully restored marriage. Jesus’ ministry was full of stunning miracles such as the dead being raised to life and the blind regaining their sight. All of the miracles of Jesus I still firmly believe are possible today, but what if there’s an alternate possibility for the blind man? What if he’s not blind in his senses, but blinded by the impossibilities in his heart? A champion gets to see the dream become a reality, thus restoring sight to the blind. When we serve, we get to be like Jesus. We get to be the person that we needed when we were younger.