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Coach Gess Gameday Devotion - Game 5 at Athens Christian

Jonathan Gess


Tonight we head down to play Athens Christian. They are a team that has some really fast players. The ones that jump out from the screen are the quarterback, #1, and the running back, #7. To contain them will take all 11 players on defense. It will be a great challenge and we are excited.  


We are in our 8th week of football practice. If you count our scrimmage, this is the 6th time the boys will take the field on a Friday night. No matter what happens, the boys are guaranteed another 6 weeks of practice.  We are right in the middle of the regular season grind.  We discussed this as a football team this week and here was my warning and challenge: Beware of the Monotony…Master the Monotony! 

Football is a grind. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday practices are just really really hard. The boys wake up, go to school, go to football, go home and then study.  Day in and day out it is the same thing. It is easy to check out mentally and just fall into the trap of going through the motions.  It is easy to go from trying to Win the Day to just getting through the day. Great teams and great players embrace the grind…embrace the HARD…and make a choice to get better each day…to not just pass through the monotony but to dominate the monotony.  Bad teams and many football players (good players and bad players) get dominated by monotony.  

HOW? The monotonous grind creates mental fatigue. Mental fatigue creates mental weakness. Mental weakness overflows to physical apathy.  Lack of mental fortitude creates lack of physical output and exertion. It culminates into kids wanting to miss school or skip practice. “I’m tired, I’m worn out, I’m exhausted…” and on, and on, and on we will gripe.  If we don’t skip out all together, we will show up but there is a lack of motivation and discipline at school and on the field. Most won’t miss school or practice or work, but the willpower to push themselves towards greatness is lacking. 

As I’m discussing this with the team this week I had a flashback to my childhood.  I grew up a preacher’s son. We moved to South Carolina when I was 7 years old when my dad became the preacher at Bethel Presbyterian Church. Our house was on the church grounds.  I’d say between the church, the graveyard (which was huge) and our house, the acreage was no less than 10-15.  I remember this old man, Mr. Kendrick, mowing the lawn each week on this tractor that looked like the very first one ever made.  But that isn’t the only thing I remembered about him.  I remembered him getting an award each year for never missing Sunday school or church for the year. He received it every year.  THEN…he had gotten it like a ridiculous amount of consecutive years.  This man never missed Sunday school, he never missed church, and he never missed taking care of the grounds at the church.   

Yesterday I called my dad to ask about Mr. Kendrick. I am 43 years old and I have never asked about him. But at 43 years old I remember him….what I perceive to be a man who mastered the monotony of life….and a Godly man.  

My dad only had raving reviews of this man.  My dad was able to tell me a story that Mr. Kendrick had told him.  Let’s say Mr. Kendrick was close to 80 when I remember him.  This probably was 1990ish.  So he would have grown up 1920/30ish.  When he was a child he had to plow the fields.  Not with a tractor but with mules.  So his dad would wake him up early and he would get to plowing. Back and forth as he guided two mules.  He would go in for lunch and his dad would tell him: “OK, we have to rest the mules and get two new ones.” So the child Mr. Kendrick would go out after lunch and get two new mules and continue to plow. He would think to himself and tell the mules: “I have to replace you two mules so you can get rest…but who gets to replace me to get rest.”   

At an early age Mr. Kendrick was taught to master the monotony.  When he was older he dominated the monotony by being a man of commitment, duty, diligence, and perseverance.  He was a consistent pillar of the church in a little community in Bethel, South Carolina. Then you have me at 43 in Georgia remembering his example of Godly commitment to the church and work. God uses people as examples.

I love what we teach in football and school about daily commitment, duty, diligence and perseverance.  As your children grow older, these virtues will help them find great success in life.

But, more importantly, no christian will grow in Jesus Christ if they lack commitment, duty, diligence, and perseverance. We are constantly fighting spiritual apathy. Just like a football team must be aware of showing up and going through the motions, so must the Christan be aware of waking up and going through the emotions.  As a football coach or player, or you in your work, are we just showing up to get through the day or are we showing up to get better today? Are we trying to Win the Day or just get through the day? Much more so, as a Christian, am I waking up with a passion to live a faithful and obedient life surrendered to Jesus Christ OR am I just waking up and trying to check off some christian checklist of proper external moral behavior?

The Christian journey is long and arduous. Most of the time the biggest battle is to overcome personal sin and temptation that dwells within us. It’s the same in football…most of the time we are battling ourselves and our attitudes…our will.  As a Christian, my passion and my goal must be to choose obedience and faithfulness to Jesus Christ.  I am going to have to reject the sin and temptation that dwells within me and in this world and choose to be obedient.  Same as a football player and coach…I am going to have to CHOOSE to have a great attitude and give great effort in school, in the weight room, and on the football field. If you are waiting for a great attitude to just jump on you, then you will be waiting in misery…it’s never coming. If you are waiting for the time when you will just be obedient and faithful to God with no effort or will from yourself, you will be waiting as you are dominated by unrighteousness. 

It’s hard! PUT ON (that requires effort) a great attitude and MASTER the MONOTONY. If you master enough monotonous days back to back, I promise you will be amazed by the transformation in your attitude and your work.  

I do all of the above imperfectly…BUT…I can’t end until I point to the ultimate example is always Jesus Christ. He is the perfect one. He came and died on the cross for you and me. He died for our sins. He took on our sins and paid the penalty that you and I deserved. Each day he died to himself for you and me. Surely, we can get up and put on a great attitude today and live a life in pursuit of obedience and faithfulness to Jesus Christ! Master the Monotony! And when you fail and find yourself with a disgusting attitude or entrapped in some other sin...repent...turn…and try again!


“The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.” – Proverbs 21:31

Wholly for Christ,

– Coach Gess