By Mike Baria
Asst. Wrestling Coach, Moeller High School Cincinnati
I was blessed to have the opportunity to be educated at Harvard University. I also had the privilege of starting for and being captain of the varsity wrestling team. It was an amazing four years that taught me so much, but I find that even 4 years after graduating Harvard is still teaching me important lessons.
Harvard is famous for its motto, "Veritas," which is latin for "truth." What a great message to send to the faculty and students; that the goal of one's education is to KNOW and LIVE the truth. This pursuit of truth rings more clearly in my life now as John 8:31-32 has become my favorite verse in Scripture. Jesus tells His followers, "If you hold to My teachings, then you really are My disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." What an amazing promise. What a charge to us as coaches; that we should hold to the truth of Christ and then share that with our athletes.
In this charge, we also find the temptation to compromise truth in the name of making our message palatable to our audience. Harvard gave up ground. The motto wasn't always "Veritas." It used to be "Veritas Christo et Ecclesiae," (Truth for Christ and the Church), but it was decided that a more generic pursuit was preferable.
I pray we do not compromise the message that Jesus has given to us in the way that Harvard surrendered its convictions. I pray that we do not compromise, not just in what we say, but in how we live out His message.
My encouragement to the coaching community today is to be strong, yet gentle, in sharing the truth of the Gospel with our young people and letting them know that they have a Savior in Jesus. And right alongside this, may they see us living out the truth. May they see in us the genuine love, compassion, integrity and courage to do what is right in a world that tells us to compromise.
The authenticity of any message is validated by the private lives of those proclaiming it. I'm excited to see the work God is doing in each of our lives and in the lives of our athletes.