Chaplain: Happy New Year!

I am a sports junkie. I love most sports and, particularly, I love college football. So, I've been following with interest the events surrounding the first resignation and now indefinite leave of absence of Coach Urban Meyer of the University of Florida Gators. I actually met Coach Meyer when he was coach at Bowling Green and our son was being recruited by that university. I was aware of some of the health issues with which Coach Meyer was dealing having read the "Sports Illustrated" feature on him a few weeks ago.

I agree with Lou Holtz's comment that as long as the University of Florida is okay with this situation, as long as the Meyer family is okay, and as long as Coach Meyer's personal physician is okay, then it really is no one's business as to why Coach Meyer has made the decisions that he has. That having been said, there's been endless speculation about what is going on. I have no desire to join that speculation but I do know this: the life of a Division I football coach is filled with long hours and a tremendous amount of stress. In fact, it's not unlike the life of a law enforcement officer. To be sure the stress is different in kind and perhaps degree. Still, a law enforcement officer is often subjected to stress at levels higher than the normal population.

Several years ago I read a book titled Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald. In it MacDonald describes what he calls driven people. Driven people are characterized by:

  • Gratification which only comes through accomplishment
  • Preoccupation with accomplishment
  • Uncontrolled pursuit of expansion
  • Limited regard for integrity
  • Limited or undeveloped relational skills
  • Highly competitive
  • Volcanic anger
  • Abnormal busyness

I've lived as a driven person and my family, regrettably, has paid a price for it. I have no doubt that my personal well-being has paid a price as well. A human being simply is not designed to undergo the amount of stress that is self-induced or externally induced that is the byproduct of being driven. Every human being has a physical dimension, a mental/psychological dimension, an emotional dimension and a spiritual dimension. However, these are not compartmentalized operating in isolation from each other. They are very much interrelated. If one dimension of life is out of balance, that will affect the others.

As we begin a new year, perhaps some thoughtful reflection is in order. Ask yourself, To what degree am I living a driven life? What changes do I need to make for my and my family's well being? Do I make time for quiet, thoughtful reflection? Am I involved in activities that help me manage the stresses of life? Do I attend to my spiritual life, recognizing that such attention will serve as the foundation for well being in other aspects of life?

On behalf of all of us who are privileged to serve the law enforcement community as chaplains, Happy New Year!