As the defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears, Buddy Ryan became the mastermind of the 46 defense. This scheme stymied opposing NFL offenses, leading to one of the greatest defenses of all time. Behind the leadership of Jim McMahon at quarterback, Walter Payton at running back and a dominant defense, Chicago easily won Superbowl XX 46-10 over the New England Patriots. This success catapulted Ryan to become head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. This experience led Buddy Ryan to once say during a press conference, “the greatest ability is availability”.
As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home,” Luke 9:57-61.
The context of Ryan’s words refers to players who were not available to play due to injury. Another common saying is “you can’t make the club when you’re in the tub,” getting treatment for injuries. Some athletes tend to get hurt due to bizarre or freak accidents. If you’re not a quick healer, players end up sitting on the bench instead of being an active participant. Jesus eludes to a similar concept in the passage above. If you truly want to be a disciple of Jesus, you must be available, ready at a moments notice to serve God. However, anyone who has a habit of making excuses for why they can’t do this or that is not fit to be a true servant of God.
Whoever does not carry his own cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow after Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me] cannot be My disciple, Luke 14:27.
Later on in his gospel, a doctor takes this concept one step further. Luke brings up willingness as if to question the desire of some disciples. Words are meaningless unless followed by action or as Def Leppard once sang, “Action Not Words.” Whether you are an athlete or an eager believer seeking to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, endurance and perseverance are essential qualities to possess. Greatness doesn’t happen overnight. Rather, diligence, focus and self-discipline pays off in the long run. Therefore, if you want to become the apple of God’s eye, the greatest ability is availability.
by Jay Mankus