Some time ago I watched an interview with Peyton Manning, it was right before they were going to the Superbowl. I can’t tell you all the details of the interview, but one thing did stand out. When asked what he was working on to prepare for the Superbowl, he replied. “I am working on my fundamentals” “How many steps back I take after the ball is snapped, checking each receiver, looking at and mentally noting what the defense is doing” I found that very interesting and intriguing and here is why, this was not his first Superbowl. Fundamentals is so important whether you are playing sports, trying to grow in your marriage or communicating with God.
“A fun filled and vibrant rich life has everything to do with practicing the fundamentals. There are no experts in anything who have not mastered and practice the fundamentals first.”
So let’s look at some examples from true life. I had a close friend in high school was an enormously talented drummer. In my senior year I was flipping burgers in McDonald’s and he was working at a steak house as the drummer for the house band. He made much more money and had way more fun. One day he told me that his dad used to make him practice playing for an hour a day. He said sometimes he hated practicing. “It was boring, I got tired of it, sometimes I thought it was stupid” he would say. Yet he mastered the fundamentals because he persevered in them, even though he sometimes did not want too. Years later, he still practiced, guess what? Same thing, the fundamentals of percussion. When your young, you do not always know what will build the best habits for you later in life. Do you have this attitude about anything? Is there something you pick at everyday and try to gain a little more knowledge about piece by piece?
I know that sports examples can be overdone but I think there is a few stories that have valuable lessons for anyone (women too!) In July of 1961 the Green Bay Packers assembled for their first day of training camp. In the previous season, the Packers went to the Super Bowl and lost to the Eagles in the fourth quarter. Each member of the team had the entire off season to think about that lost, what they did wrong, and how they were going to attack it for the following year. Each player had an idea of what he wanted to work on to take his game to the next level. Coach Vince Lombardi had a different idea.
He took nothing for granted. He began a tradition of starting from scratch, assuming that the players were blank slates who carried over no knowledge from the year before… He began with the most elemental statement of all. “Gentlemen,” he said, holding a pigskin in his right hand, “this is a football.” And from that statement he went forward to teach the game of football as if he were talking to players with no experience at all. He taught the basics of blocking, tackling, route running and other fundamentals of football and sportsmanship. They opened the playbook and started with page one and slowly worked their way through the game plan for Green Bay. Some thought it was degrading and silly because they made it all the way the previous year, these were experienced and talented athletes, others embraced the fundamentals. Six months later the Packers beat the Giants to win the national championship.
Lets look at another example, marriage. Imagine that you were fortunate enough to have someone guide you in the fundamentals of a strong marriage before you got married. This is not entirely uncommon, but it’s what we do with this information that makes all the difference in the world. Anyone married knows that it takes work and effort to keep a marriage strong and vibrant today. The fundamentals of listening, giving, be supportive and communicating are paramount in developing a strong union. A couple has to work at these fundamentals constantly. So how do you do that? You make an effort to talk on a deeper level each week, even daily. You go to marriage seminars to help you with concepts that you maybe never knew about. You find other strong couples that have successful marriages and you find out what they are doing. You read books and figure out the fundamental differences in the way that men and women think and apply that knowledge to your life. It is constant, it is work, and some people give up. Don’t give up, you can do it, one step at a time.
Probably the most important example would be to talk about your relationship with God. Like marriage, it has its fundamentals. Have you ever thought about what those fundamentals are? They predate marriage because the relationship between man and God was established before marriage. Those healthy fundamentals have to be taught. The greatest teacher of those fundamentals was Jesus. When Jesus started his ministry, he really started to teach everyone about the fundamentals of having a relationship with God. Guess what? Everyone fought him on those very principles, and it still goes on today. Think about these fundamentals. Prayer, Jesus taught his disciples and anyone that was around him how to pray, when to pray, and what prayer looked like. He lived it and shared his fundamental that you have to pray daily, you have to talk daily with God. He also taught the fundamental of close relationships, the fact that you have to surround yourself with friends that are spiritually minded in order to enhance your relationship with God. It’s fundamental, you have to have people around you that call you higher and that you can become close too. Jesus also taught that you have to draw your strength and dig deep into God’s word. All the answers of life, the fundamentals of handling any type of situation, are in there. These are the basic fundamentals but how often do we practice them? Are there more, sure, but do we really understand these three concepts to the core?
Simple ideas, deeply understood. That is what a fundamental is.