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Thought For The Day: Making the Hard Choices -- February 2, 2001

By Jim Lutz

"I will comfort the disruptive and disrupt the comfortable." That was the life mission of the prophet, Jeremiah.

I find situations in my life when taking the "high road" and avoiding confrontation would definitely be the easiest way to proceed. But what would that accomplish in the long run? Part of our responsibility in life is to challenge others to help them become better. The great basketball coach John Wooden said, "A coach is a person who gets people to do things
they don’t want to do, to enable them to become the people they want to become."

What do you do in your personal life to help those around you become better people? Are you a good enough friend to tell someone that his or her behavior is unacceptable? Are you willing to be honest enough with
someone to run the risk of alienation? Are you willing to step outside of the "in crowd" because your friend is in the minority and is being ridiculed?

For us to call ourselves a true friend we must care enough to be totally and completely honest. What we have to say may not be easy but if it is said with true concern and passion then we will be heard and hopefully understood.

On the other side of the coin, do your friends know that they can count on you to support them? Or do they view your opinions and comments as a way for you to gain the upper hand by unnecessarily insulting them and
making them feel worse? Our objectives should not be to belittle or ridicule. We should strive for excellence for ourselves and for others with whom we associate.

Going through life some of the biggest challenges we face are the times when we need to; defend ourselves, defend our beliefs, defend our values and quite often defend our friendships. In these times, you will have
very little to gain other then the continued friendships and support of your friend.

Minister Chuck Swindoll was once asked why a man of God would want to spend his time surround by the decadence and illicit lifestyles that had become the norm in California. He answered, "What better place
could you find than the worst place you could find?"

As strong as we are in our beliefs does it mean that we are always correct or above reproach? I think not. The trick is having a sound basis for our views and beliefs so when the world takes pot shots, we will
have a leg to stand on…something that gives us stability in the good times and the worst of times. We cannot be afraid to stand up for what is right
regardless of the repercussions we may face.

In Psalm 27:5,6 it says: "For in the day of trouble he keeps me secretly in his pavilion: in the covert of his tabernacle will he hide me; He will lift me up upon a rock. And now shall my head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me. And I will offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will
sing praises unto the Lord. We will always be protected and safely guarded as long as our foundation is one with the Lord.

The easy choices in life are just that because they have very little effect on many people and do not disrupt others. The choice that make a difference, dramatically affect others in both positive and negative ways. As a teammate, be it on an athletic team or part of a business, you should take pride in positively affecting your entire team. Prepare yourself for battle with the comfort and knowledge that you will protect and support your team to the fullest degree. Your team is not as good if you are not part of the whole program. Protection is produced through partnership. You and your teammates must become one: one vision, one purpose, one goal and one
mission. You must: challenge to be better, challenge to find weaknesses to improve, challenge to defend one another, challenge all challenges who try and break you.

Always remember, as a teammate nothing can be so great as to overcome and keep you from achieving anything you desire for you are part of a great group who will succeed because you believe.

Have a great day…I know I will

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JIM LUTZ is head swim coach at Michigan State University.