By Chad Bonham
2014 Conference USA Tournament: Marshall 63, Florida Atlantic 59 (March 11, 2014)
Moments after Florida Atlantic University fell five points short of advancing in the 2014 Conference USA Tournament, head coach Mike Jarvis stood before his players and coaches one last time and delivered an inspirational speech that transcended basketball. Jarvis had already agreed to step down from his position once the season was completed. He knew this would be his final such locker room moment.
Jarvis made a simple request of the young men intently looking back at him.
“Find a wonderful woman to call your wife and start a family,” he said. “And then be the best dad you can possibly be. That’s the most important thing you can do with your life.”
For Jarvis, the unceremonious ending to a stellar 45-year coaching career was a harsh reminder of how challenging the profession can be and how abruptly things can change.
“I made up a plan,” he told Christian Sports Journal. “My son Mike Jr., and I were going to build the program from nowhere and turn it into something and I was eventually going to turn that program over to him and he was going to be the head coach and maybe I would become his assistant.”
But when a new athletic director took over at FAU, Jarvis soon discovered that his future there would not be as long lived as he had planned. Shortly after the end of that final season, he stumbled across a Bible verse that caught his attention. It was just what he needed to read during a time of great uncertainty.
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“It was a reminder that everything was going to work out okay,” Jarvis said. “I thought I knew God’s plan for my life, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. Instead, He had something else for me to do. That’s when I began thinking about sharing my story with athletes and coaches and anyone else who cared to listen.”
Because Jarvis was no longer coaching, he was free to pursue other interests including the writing of his next two books—Everybody Needs a Head Coach and The Seven C’s of Leadership. Jarvis also found his voice as a college basketball analyst and motivational speaker.
“Over time, I’ve discovered that God’s plans are so much better than my plans.” He said. “My plans? God laughed and said, ‘No, no son. I’ve got something different in mind and I’m going to give you the time and the opportunity to really make a difference.’ I feel blessed that my plans have been trumped by God’s plans.”
This devotional is brought to you by Museum of the Bible, a 430,000 square foot museum being constructed 3 blocks south of the US Capitol in Washington, D.C. and is set to open in November of 2017.
(Photos: Courtesy of Mike Jarvis)