lydia, steve, jacko, kane

As I reflect on my time as a leader, one of the great delights was to watch and listen to young adults take their first steps in service - then to pray and lean on some Spirit-given (I hope!) discernment - before taking the risk of boldly speaking some words into their life about what they could become under God's good hand and trying to walk with them into that future. Young adults tend to be grossly-under-affirmed and desperate to have someone to believe in them. I loved wading into that world.

Maybe this is why I get so excited about following four young people emerging in NZ sporting life. Please let me tell you about them...

As I write, Lydia Ko is playing in her first major golf tournament (US Women's Open) alongside Karrie Webb, Michelle Wie and all the others. Lydia is the top-ranked "women's" amateur golfer in the world. I write "women's" because Lydia is 15 years old. Yes, you heard me right - fifteen. The other night I saw her interviewed and there it was - the same winsome self-effacing effervescence that has characterized so many leading Kiwi sportswomen down through the years.

I am not sure what Steven Adams is doing as I write. But stick with me here. Steve stands 7 feet tall (2.13m). He has just finished high school in the USA. He hasn't even started college yet. But in one reputable 'NBA mock draft 2013' (yes, a bit of a guess - as it is one year away), where the top college players are recruited by the professional NBA teams, Steven is projected to go 6th - and he is not even in college yet. I am not sure where to start in trying to convey how remarkable this is. Maybe I can do so by reminding you that NZ's greatest ever basketball player, Sean Marks, was drafted 44th, after four years in college, when it was his turn. And yes, Steve is the little brother of Valerie Adams, Olympic-gold-medlalist-in-waiting in the Shot Put.

Nor am I sure what Jacko Gill is doing as I write. Probably training like he does in this video. In 2010 he beat a world record held by Usain Bolt to become the youngest ever junior world champion in any discipline in track and field. He won the Shot Put - aged 15 (beating 19 year olds along the way). Sadly, someone made some mistakes somewhere along the way and Jacko is not going to the London Olympics. But as shot-putters reach their prime in their thirties, Jacko probably has four more Olympics in him.

As I write, Kane Williamson is about to go into bat as captain of the New Zealand one-day cricket team. He is just 21 - an almost ridiculous age to be thrown into that kind of cauldron. He is the fourth-youngest to do so - and the youngest ever from a major cricket-playing nation. Plus he has to operate within a ridiculous governance system and with a talent-challenged team decimated by the ridiculous Indian Premier League (sorry, I had to add those two realities as well). One of the great joys of the next decade for me will be to watch him achieve greatness as a cricketer and as a leader.

When I engage these stories some sort of switch gets flipped inside me. I can't quite describe it. I long to see them do well. I love seeing the next generation come along and be given the opportunity to become all that they can possibly be. I defy the Kiwi fear of giving people a 'big head' (maximum cranial phobia, as I like to call it) as the utter rubbish that it is. And yes, I do pray that Jesus will find them and that they will become the Eric Liddells and Michael Jones of their generation...

Oops - gotta go because Kane has just come into bat. But whether you be 15 or 18, 17 or 21 - pursue excellence and do it for Jesus' sake and in Jesus' name.

nice chatting



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