If you’ve never seen the show, it’s centered around four important things: football, family, leadership, and beautiful 20-somethings (pretending to be teenagers) who make out with each other a whole lot. That last point makes it a little hard to recommend the show universally because I never know if there’s going to be too much teenage love for someone else’s comfort level. So I haven’t, for example, ever recommended the show to my parents. But it’s probably not too much for most friends and family and it’s certainly a whole lot more mild than the average PG-13 movie.
As a side note, I wouldn’t know how to answer if someone asked me whether the show had “too much” teenage love in it. How do you answer a question like that? If I say, “Yes, it has too much,” then I probably shouldn’t watch the show. But what else can I say that comes anywhere close to being an appropriate answer? The only alternatives are to say “No, it needs a lot more teenage love in it” or “Actually, it has exactly the right amount.” Either of those sounds pretty creepy. So I guess you should just watch the show and decide for yourself if it crosses a line.
At any rate, it’s a great show. And it’s been a real life saver for me. Last year was a tough one at work. I ended up with a lot on my plate, some real tough situations, and demands that felt overwhelming. I worked harder and sacrificed more than I ever have. And despite all that dedication, I ended up with lots of cases where my effort was criticized or undervalued or ignored. Sometimes it just felt like I couldn’t win at work, but I had to keep pressing forward anyway. It reminded me of a quote by General Stanley McChrystal about leadership:
“It isn’t always fair. You can get knocked down, and it hurts. And it leaves scars. But if you’re a leader, the people you’ve counted on will help you out. And if you’re a leader, the people who count on you need you on your feet.”
That was last year for me. Lots of getting knocked down. Lots of scars. Lots of getting helped out by wonderful, amazing people that I’ve counted on. And lots of getting back up on my feet to do my best to serve the people who counted on me.
Well, that sums up Coach Eric Taylor. He works hard, he faces unjust criticism and tough odds, he gets knocked down, he gets back up and…because it’s TV….he pretty much always wins in the end. Along the way, he’s a great father and mentor and he relies mightily on his firecracker of a wife, Tammie (a character who couldn’t remind me more of my own Wendy).
The best thing about Coach Eric Taylor is that he sincerely cares about the people he leads. No matter how tired he gets or how far he gets pushed down, he’s always ready to work more. He spends his weekends reviewing game tapes. He drives to players’ homes to find them when they skip practice. He lets students into his home when they knock on his door at all hours of the night. And he doesn’t shy away from giving anyone the direct (sometimes painful) direction they need from him.
This year I’m determined to do a lot of things better in my life than I have done. I am committed to eating better and exercising more. I will read, think, and write more. I’ll certainly go to the temple more and allow my faith to be more central in my daily living. And I’ll also be a better Home Teacher.
The Home Teaching program in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a wonderful example of how well-organized Mormons love to be. We don’t want to cross the plains haphazardly like everyone else, we want assigned groups, specific individual responsibilities, and strict rules along the way.
I think just about everyone on earth, whether or not they are a person of faith, agrees that we should all know our neighbors better and help them out when they need it. But since good intentions are never enough, Mormons take this universal intention a step further and assign each other specific families to visit every month. And it’s not meant to be just a casual visit or a brief monthly check in. Home Teachers are instructed to “warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ” plus to “do the little things, the small things that mean so much to a family….know the names of the family members. Be aware of birthdays, blessings, baptisms, and marriages. On occasion, write an appropriate note of commendation or make a phone call congratulating a member of the family on a special achievement or accomplishment.”
The problem is that many of us are notoriously bad at this assignment and fall far short of the intended level of service. As an extreme example, I had a friend who had the same Home Teacher for several years. Every month the Home Teacher would come by and tape a message to my friend’s front door and that was it. No call. No knocking on the door. No offering to help. Needless to say, when my friend ultimately contracted cancer and was hospitalized, her Home Teacher was not someone she felt comfortable turning to for the help she so sorely needed in those last few weeks of her life.
I hope I’m a better Home Teacher than that. I know and love my families. I do check in and I sometimes do helpful things or make friendly gestures to them. But all the time I find out that one of my assigned families needed something and I wasn’t there for them. Someone had a broken lawn mower or a sick kid or needed help moving something heavy. It’s painful for me to find out that one of my families has had a need and that they don’t know me well enough to feel comfortable asking me for the help I’d be happy to give.
So this year I’m approaching my Home Teaching the way that Coach Eric Taylor approaches high school football. I’m carefully planning my visits and my messages. I’m hunting people down when I don’t see them at Church. I’m making myself available at all hours of the night no matter how much I’ve already worked that week. And I’m relying mightily on the example, friendship, and counsel of my smokin’ hot firecracker of a wife.