“It is not a present experience that ensures fruit unto maturity, but a patient continuance in well doing... No. Fruit ripens slowly; days of sunshine and days of storm each add their share. Blessing will succeed blessing, and storm follow storm before the fruit is full grown or comes to maturity.” George Goodman*
Imagine your dream was to one day become a professional football player. As a child you would throw the mythical game winning touchdown in your backyard. You might even dream of being one of the few invited to try out and have a chance to make the team.
Imagine the sting of eventually being told to pack your things and leave the team facility during NFL training camp or even in the middle of a season. Now imagine that six different times.
While he is currently known for being the Super Bowl winning Head Football Coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, as a player Doug Pederson was shaped by facing and overcoming adversity throughout his career.
When Pederson was cut by the Miami Dolphins for the fifth consecutive time he even worked as a package delivery person during the months of September and October before getting a chance to try out with the Green Bay Packers. While hard to see it in the moment of his trials, the hills and valleys he faced would lead him toward countless lessons from football royalty.
In Miami he learned from famed Dolphins Coach Don Shula and alongside Hall of Famer Dan Marino. Later in Green Bay, Pederson gained first hand experience in running the West-Coast Offense from Coach Mike Holmgren, one of the direct coaching descendants of legendary Coach Bill Walsh, and got to back-up another all-time great QB in Brett Favre while winning a Super Bowl to boot. He also suited up for the Philadelphia Eagles and formed key relationships there that later helped him in being hired as Head Coach by owner Jeffrey Lurie.
Pederson shared in his great book “Fearless, How an Underdog Becomes a Champion” that he was seriously angry for being cut again and again. Yet it’s hard not to see the way God used those opportunities to shape him into the great coach and leader he is today.
Keep Planting Seeds
Often when I’m on the road for work I schedule a call with my personal Faith and Life Coach, Dan Hall. I was introduced to Dan by a pastor and author I admire and he has had a profound impact on nearly every aspect of my life.
Dan has pastored several large and fast-growing churches along with a nationally successful career in consulting to business and faith leaders around the country. He also played football competitively and throughout his life worked hard to maintain his health. But even more important than that, Dan always made time for his relationship with his children and wife. Perhaps the most important lesson he has shared with me is on making a significant effort to spend time on dates with my wife.
A few years ago while traveling for work the seeds that Dan had planted in all phases of his life are what have helped him to stay strong in a challenging chapter of life. Dan had a nearly fatal accident which led to his current state of quadriplegia. I say current state because Dan is a fighter and to him this is only another opportunity to grow and to serve God as he battles to regain mobility.
Following the accident Dan’s wife Hazel sat with him in the hospital. As they shared a deep moment together she looked at him and simply said, “thirty years of dates have paid off.” Though faced with a storm of uncertainty their years of dates have made their marriage strong enough to face this new challenge together. And they have continued to do so heroically.
Fruit Ripens Slowly
I am guilty of wanting to skip the difficult learning part of the growth equation as most of us are. Yet when I think about the true successes in my life it’s clear to me now that the path was dug out of both hardship and accomplishments.
Think of it this way, even if you could cut a corner to get a short term win now, it would likely cost you more in long term growth. As author Jeff Haden puts it, “Even though taking a shortcut may lead to a short-term success, you will often regret ever having taken it.”
Life’s lessons are often born out of the shortcuts you haven’t taken. They are forged in the losses and heartbreak you have faced head on. Embrace the storms and the sunshine in your life today. It will help you ripen fully as God has intended for you to grow.
*The Complete Green Letters, Miles J. Stanford, page 7
 Fearless, How an Underdog Becomes a Champion, by Doug Pederson with Dan Pompei
 The Motivation Myth; How High Achievers Really Set Themselves Up to Win, Jeff Haden, page 25