Words of Hope: Stalwart

I love words and the word stalwart isn’t a common one, though it should be. Stalwart is a synonym for stable, committed, foundational, and secure. Stalwart is the image of the sea captain who, rain or shine, navigates the seas with courage.

Stalwart not only means navigating difficulties with courage, but it also means outstanding strength or vigor of body, mind, or spirit. My dad was a stalwart coach because he could energize his team with tremendous vigor and aptitude. He could see what a person could become and could speak hope into that space.

I read that when a person is learning to ride a motorcycle, they must look past the turn in the road because focusing on the turn will cause them to crash. Looking past the curve keeps their focus on where they want to go. I believe the same is true in coaching and that is what made Dad a stalwart coach. Great coaching requires you to look down the road to where your players can be and help imagine each of them there. Dad could clearly picture with abundant possibility what each player could become.

Dad knew the danger of looking at the curve. When coaches, parents or even ourselves focus on the deficits, we turn into what we do not want. Dad understood this so well. He knew improving weaknesses was crucial to a team’s success, but a coach can unconsciously sabotage a team’s success by defining the team by their weakness. For example, “Our team is really slow, our team is really young, and they make freshman errors.”
I do this to myself. I define myself in words that are limiting. I wonder why I can focus on deficits instead of looking ahead. I watch the waves instead of steering the ship through. I think I do this because I fear not appearing perfect, right, good, or awesome. Too much self-focus is really a cowardly way to live. Trying to avoid making mistakes is like looking at the curve. Hoping to live without storms is a sure way to capsize.

I remember my dad in his final days on earth. He was stalwart and steadfast. He did not focus on the difficulties or the deficits. I am incredibly proud of how he died and find such comfort in this memory. He didn’t focus on the waves crashing around him, he didn’t worry about navigating the turn. He spoke peace, he embodied peace as he kept his eyes on the Savior and steered his ship home with steady hands and heart.

Wait on the LORD: Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. – Psalm 27:14