Lessons from McFarland USA


If you haven’t had the chance to grab a bowl of popcorn and watch the Disney movie McFarland, I urge you to grab a friend, your kids, your family, and sit down together to watch this inspiring story of a group of cross-country runners from southern California.  Without giving away the entire movie, here are some of the lessons that I learned from this great story:


People need goals to push toward.

It’s way too easy to just plod through life, one day at a time, until those days blur together and you can’t remember why you’re doing what you’re doing, or how you got where you are.  Without goals, life seems pointless.  Trivial.  A waste.  Thankfully, Jesus has given us the greatest goal – helping others discover who He is and His sacrifice for them.  And it’s because of this goal that I push forward every week.  It’s because of this goal that my teams push forward every week.   When I see the result of something to push toward, I ask myself what other goals I can inspire my team toward.


People need someone to push them to accomplish what they don’t believe they can accomplish themselves.

Our biggest limitation will always be ourselves.  What I believe to be  my limits will become my limits.  What your team sees as insurmountable roadblocks will become insurmountable.  This is why I need a leader, why you need a leader, and why your team needs a leader.  Without a consistent voice pushing us to accomplish more than we ever thought possible, we will continue to be defined by our limits. God has appointed you to be a leader – because He believes that you are the one that can be this voice in someone’s life.  Think of your favorite teacher, family member, or coach – you are who you are because they pushed you further than you thought you could go.  BE that person for someone else!

People get a bigger return out of helping others accomplish something with a bigger vision than they do out of doing something with great perks.

Let’s be real – we love perks, but we know that’s not why we do what we do.  A free cup of coffee or a great parking spot aren’t enough to make people stick.  Volunteers will only stick when they have experienced a monumental return from helping accomplish the vision of their organization.  When you come across a volunteer who is struggling with their commitment, help them remember the vision that they are helping accomplish.  Vision trumps perks every time!


The cross country team in McFarland was a mishmash of immigrant workers’ sons who felt trapped in the life cycle of their community. One coach gave them goals, pushed them harder than they would push themselves, and gave them a bigger vision to work together toward.  And together, they conquered their world!

How can you help those around you conquer their world?

4 thoughts on “Lessons from McFarland USA”

  1. Dave Lewis says:

    The ultimate goal that God is “pushing” us toward is transformation into the image of Christ. Leaders cooperate with God in that process, even as God pushes the leader to go beyond what they believe is possible in their own lives. Good principles here.

    1. Heather says:

      Yes! None of us can do life alone – that’s the way God created us – to need each other and more importantly, to need Him.

  2. Kristi Potts says:

    I look forward to these postings every week and have found so much inspiration form your God given wisdom, so thank you! And I specifically needed to hear these words this week. God has no limits and by us defining our own limitations we cause our own failure. Like previously stated, we can do nothing without God and by us relying on him there is no limit.

    1. Heather says:

      Kristi, thank you so much for your encouragement! Every day I find myself limiting myself, and then reminded of God’s power!

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