5 Traits of Great Basketball Leaders

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Basketball leaders are made, not simply born, with qualities developed through their experiences both on and off the court. Great leaders, coaches like Larry Brown and Phil Jackson, and players like Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, learn from their failures and use them to improve their ability to motivate, inspire, and ultimately to win. Like anything else, if you want to improve your leadership skills, you must devote effort and attention. However, you also need to understand the special qualities of basketball leadership. Review the five traits discussed below, and use them to help mold yourself into a more respected player on your team and in your league.

1. Character

Character is what defines you as a person. It is the sum of your values, beliefs, and behavior. One quality that is particularly valuable for basketball leadership is integrity. Coaches and players with integrity have positive values, principles, and actions. They are consistent in their beliefs, and they strive to be a positive inspiration for their team and others.

“Good character is more to be praised than outstanding talent. Most talents are, to some extent, a gift. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it piece by piece – by thought, choice, courage, and determination.” – John Luther

“A winner is someone who recognizes their God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals.” – Larry Bird

Example: Before you try to motivate your fellow teammates to play hard, evaluate your own effort and communication. Are you modeling the values that you yourself want to promote?

How to Improve: Personally commit yourself to developing more consistency. If you want your team to work harder, make sure you are consistently playing to the best of your ability. If you want your team to focus, first improve your own focus.

2. Commitment

As a leader, you must be committed to achieving daily, weekly, and ultimate goals. If you want to be a better player, completely commit yourself to the team. Don’t give up when it gets difficult. Stay focused on what you want to achieve.

Example: If you realize that you’re not giving 100 percent effort all the time, commit to doing so.

How to Improve: Recognize the steps you need to take to improve. If you want to play at the next level, you’ll have to commit time between games (and even between organized practices) to develop your skills, practice techniques, routines, and plays.

3. Communication

How good are you at communicating with your coach and fellow players? Basketball leaders improve their teams by refocusing teammates on what matters and voicing ideas in ways that motivate, not offend, others and do not disrupt the chemistry of the team.

Example: Your fellow teammate made a costly turnover. What can you say to keep your team’s confidence high?

How to Improve: Speak clearly and project your voice, watching for reactions from team members. Make sure you are motivating and inspiring others for better performance. Be sensitive to how and when you should communicate your message.

4. Self-Discipline

Players with self-discipline take the right action regardless of their emotional state. At some point, you will be tired, angry, agitated, stressed, or annoyed; however, your attitude and ability to persevere should not change.

Example: You’ve had a terrible day, and you’re tired and agitated. You are participating in an important practice for your team’s upcoming big game. How will you react if things begin to break down in practice? Will you stay motivated and cheerfully give 100 percent?

How to Improve: All emotional states are temporary. Refocus on the upcoming task instead of what you are feeling at the moment. Give your all, regardless of the situation.

5. Learning from Mistakes

No one is perfect. When you make mistakes, take the time to analyze and learn from them. Doing this will continually improve your leadership skills. You have to realize when you said the wrong thing at the wrong time. Great leaders realize when they are wrong and admit it.

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

Example: A teammate yells at another teammate, and you missed the opportunity to help settle a heated situation.

How to Improve: Realize that you made a mistake by missing the opportunity. If the chance presents itself again, take action. If you don’t have an occasion to correct your mistake, think about how you will handle a similar situation in the future.

As a player or coach, you can improve your basketball leadership traits by evaluating your character, commitment, communication style, self-discipline, and ability to learn from mistakes. It will take time, effort, and commitment to improve. However, the results should encourage and inspire you to help your team in the long run.

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Grace-motivated Marriage

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No marriage will be unaffected when the people in the marriage are seeking to get from the creation what they were only ever meant to get from the Creator. The only true source of love is Christ. No husband or wife can “complete” one another, satisfy their deepest longings, or fill the “eternal hole” in the other’s heart. Neither can be the source of identity for the other, or the object of worship.

Now I am the best husband I ever am when I’m fully concentrating on, thinking on, meditating on, and sitting under gospel preaching and teaching; when I am positioned under the life-giving waterfall of the grace of Christ. I’ll tell you why. When I am completely dialed in to the fact that, through no merit of my own, through no act of my own, and because of nothing I can do, but simply because God is merciful and gracious, He loves me, then as I engage my wife, there is this overflow motivated by being loved that flows over into my relationship with my wife.

Do you know when I’m a horrible husband? When somebody preaches a sermon on, “Here’s how you be a great husband.” Because I’m a type-A moron. So I find myself buying into the lie of moralistic behavioral modification. So I will immediately go, “Let me build up this grid. Let me start to do these things. She’ll respond this way, and I’ll do this.” So I start to go, “If I do this, she’ll do that, and what will come about is bliss.” Has anybody else tried that route? Am I alone in this? Well, I think some others may have stumbled into this type of mentality as well. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t work.

“The greatest threat to the church isn’t atheism or materialism, but moralism that celebrates a righteousness which doesn’t come from Christ.”

But when I continually hear, “Do these things, and get these results.” I’ll find myself beginning to buy into that lie, because my flesh loves that, because I’m a doer, because I can be crazy disciplined and stubborn, because I can control this or that. It has never brought me any freedom. It has never brought me any joy. It has never brought me any healthy fruit… but my flesh still loves it.

So I’m the best husband I ever am when I understand that God is patient, that God is merciful, and that God is gracious to me. And as I am the recipient of that love and grace, that overflows onto my relationship with my wife. I’m the best husband I am, not when I read a book on marriage that shows me how to handle my wife. I’m the best husband I ever am when I am completely attuned with God’s free gift of mercy, and grace, and wired into the fact that He delights in my strengths while growing me out of my immaturities. I’m a better husband when I’m aware that I am far worse than I ever dared to imagine, yet in Christ, I am far more loved than I ever dreamed I could be. I’m just a better husband when I’m aware of that.

So the solution to what is wrong with my behavior is not someone telling me how to modify my behavior, it’s not medication, it’s not “finding myself” or my wife just doing these or those particular things; it’s better seeing and understanding the gospel. All too often we hear messages on how to fix this, correct that, change this, modify that… but in all this if you don’t ever get to Jesus, if you’re not getting to the gospel, then it’s only playing into the pride of man. We must get to the fact that my righteousness is a gift from God, and Him alone.

The righteousness I have is God’s, it has been granted to me by the work He alone already accomplished. (Ephesians 2:1-10; We do not help or assist God achieve our salvation.) Anything good in me, is there by Christ’s grace. More than a lack of love and respect for our spouse, our problem is a lack of love, respect, reverence, awe, and worship of our great triune God: our Father, our Lord Christ Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

When I actively pursue Christ, I better understand love. True love is willing self-sacrifice, for the good of another, that does not demand reciprocation, or that the person being loved is deserving (Ephesians 5). Love is also willing… the key character quality of love is willingness. Love, loves to love. Love loves to give, serve, build up, praise, encourage, sacrifice, and love all the more.

The goodness/kindness of God leads us to repentance… not the law or the continual, consistent repetition of a beat-down explaining how we fall short in every way. So why would we think that would work differently in our marriage, which is meant to reflect Christ’s love for His bride, the church?

To the degree you forget how fully you have been loved by God, you will forget how to love others in your life. So when I am focused on myself and how to control my behavior with the expectation of getting certain results, I am forgetting how to really love my wife.

Love grows best in the soil of gratitude. When we remember the love of our Father, the sacrifice of the Son, and the help of the Holy Spirit, only then are we truly equipped and able to love others. We need the love of God to be where the roots of our hearts reside, because only there can we get what is needed to absorb and grow to love others with true love.

Some of us are still wrestling with this in monumental ways; still walking in doubt because we just doubt God’s affection for us. And that’s idolatry, because what you’re doing in essence is looking at the bloody cross of Jesus Christ and going, “That’s not enough. You’re going to have to show me something bigger than that to convince me You really love me.” Some of us are still wrestling with all of this because we doubt Christ’s affection for us despite the fact that He went to the cross and died for you. He went to the cross despite knowing you, despite knowing every stupid thing you’ve ever done, as well as every single dumb thing you have yet to do.

All the sin, weaknesses, and failures in the life of a believer have already been fully covered by the blood-soaked cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s grace is exponentially and infinitely more powerful than any sin. So we can break the silence, walk out into the light, and face the things that God is calling us to face.

God will never give you a task to complete without enabling you with the resources to accomplish it. He is the resource. We must depend on the Father’s love, the Son’s sacrifice, the Spirit’s help. We must always run back to and rest in the Gospel.