One of the most challenging events in track and field competition is the 4×100 relay race, where four sprinters on a team run one at a time in a single lane, with each athlete doing a 100-meter leg.  The most critical aspects of the relay occur within a 20-meter area known as the “changeover box”.  It extends 10 meters before the starting line and 10 meters after the starting line.  That is the place where one runner is required to pass the baton to the next runner.  Before the “changeover box”, the runner for the next leg has 10 meters in order to build up speed with the idea that the runners of the current leg and the upcoming leg will meet near full speed inside the changeover box, at which point the baton will be passed.

The precision of the handoff is critical and can save precious seconds.  The difficulty is that the handoff is usually done with the leading runner blindly reaching backwards while looking forward, and the incoming runner giving a verbal sign for the next runner to begin sprinting and be ready for the handoff.  It is essential that the baton exchange be done when both runners are moving at full speed (up to 20 mph) within the “changeover box” and without ever leaving the lane.  The best teams combine pure physical talent with masterful handoffs that allow each runner to start and finish with momentum.

Crowds cheer and high-fives are given.  Pictures are snapped and medals are presented to the team.  But one person is often overlooked who is really responsible for the success of great athletes and a great team: the coach.  The coach helps the athletes prepare physically and mentally.  The coach sees that a proper diet, various exercises, and a rigid schedule are all part of good preparation for athletic competition.  The coach designs the practices and pushes for excellence.  The coach does not accept half-hearted effort, even in practices.  Every great athlete will give proper recognition to the coach.

Jesus Christ is the best coach for your family.  Make certain you give the Savior preeminence in your life and family, beginning with repentance from sin coupled with faith in Him.  Then continue to develop a personal relationship with Christ through Bible study, prayer, and involvement in a good church where scriptural principles are lived out.  (Remember, other believers are part of the team.)  Pursue excellence with a deep commitment to please the Lord.  Keep learning.  When you mess up, confess your sin and get back on track.  Retain your focus on Jesus and His ways so you do not get distracted with the world and allow the arm-chair coaches to influence you away from the paths of righteousness and hinder God’s work in you.  If you feel like slacking off, tighten up.  When doubts and times of discouragement come, look to the Lord.  Be an encourager and praise those who live according to God’s righteous standard.  Realize you are compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses who have gone before you, so “run with patience the race that is set before you, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith . . . lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)