Nothing can compare to the electricity, fully saturated with the smell of sweat, that permeates the air as men who tower over most of us battle head to head and hand to hand in search of nothing but net. As the longest-acting chaplain for any NBA team, having served the 2011 NBA Champions Dallas Mavericks for more than three decades, I’ve become acutely familiar with the feel, smell and taste of this atmosphere as if it were an extension of my own. It is rousing and disarming at the same time. I love it.

One can’t help but recognize it upon entering an arena. The air hangs thick with anticipation and hunger, consuming anyone who walks into the presence of the players and coaching staff. To say passion dominates the mood would be an understatement. It is more like urge—a pure ache for greatness.

When two teams make it to the NBA Finals, five men on the court from each side unapologetically seek to prove who’s the best. They are men on a quest, men with one goal, and that goal is nothing short of declaring to the entire world their greatness.

Yet, at the end of the day, one locker room erupts, while the other locker room echoes with the eeriness of an exhausted and depleted quiet. One city cheers; another city mourns and licks its wounds. One banner is raised while the hopes for that same banner taunt the thoughts of those who fought so hard to claim it, yet fell short.

In sports, as is often the case in life, when one person celebrates another person cries. One person’s victory means another person’s defeat. One person’s promotion is another person’s stagnation. One person’s hope being fulfilled is another person’s hope deferred.

So what do we do with disappointment? What do we do with defeat? The same thing every successful person has ever done: We wipe off our sweat, toss our worn and tattered jerseys in the wash, and we press on for the hope we are promised (Phil. 3:12).

The difference between a person of victory living out his or her destiny and a person who gets stuck in the rut of defeat can be found in how that person views life’s experiences. A victorious person will view his or her life experiences—including the defeats and failures—through the lens of purpose. They will recognize the connecting thread taking them to the destiny God has for them (Jer. 29:11).

As a pastor and spiritual leader over your sphere of influence, God uniquely has positioned you to offer people His hope. Hope is the one thing people need the most.

You are to teach them that how they manage or mismanage the experiences in their pasts will have everything to do with their futures. Instruct them to learn from their pasts, not live in them.

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About The Author

Dr. Tony Evans is the founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, founder and president of The Urban Alternative, chaplain of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, and author of over 100 books, booklets and Bible studies. The first African American to earn a doctorate of theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, he has been named one of the 12 Most Effective Preachers in the English-Speaking World by Baylor University. His radio broadcast, The Alternative with Dr. Tony Evans, can be heard on more than 1,200 US outlets daily and in more than 130 countries. Dr. Evans launched the Tony Evans Training Center in 2017, an online learning platform providing quality seminary-style courses for a fraction of the cost to any person in any place. The goal is to increase Bible literacy not only among lay people but also among those Christian leaders who cannot afford nor find the time for formal ongoing education. For more information, visit TonyEvans.org

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