Gonzaga’s Mark Few has been extremely successful during his 18 years as head coach of the Bulldogs. They have made the NCAA tournament each year, and have participated in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 multiple times. 

Few has consistently coached competitive teams who have won numerous games, while being considered one of the best coaches in college basketball.

Even so, in order for his success to be validated and to “get the monkey off his back,” people thought he needed to lead his team to the Final Four. Fortunately for Few, he’s finally done that…and they are actually favored to win it all. 

When asked about that “monkey” after the West Virginia game, this was the interesting response he gave:

 “First of all, I don’t know that I have a monkey on my back. I don’t certainly wake up with one or walk around with one. So I don’t think these guys think I have one. I don’t think my wife thinks I have one or anybody in my family, close friends. Fishing buddies never talk about it. So those are the only people that really matter to me.” 

What a great answer! I’m glad Few can joke about the “monkey on his back,” and it seems he hasn’t worried too much about the media and fans placing undue pressure on him.

Although they love to create the narrative that a coach needs to prove how good he is by performing to a set standard and reaching a certain level, it’s usually a moving target. As soon as a coach accomplishes one feat, there is a new expectation waiting for him. 

When considering life, religion, and faith, mindsets creep in that mirror the idea of having a “monkey on your back.” Too many people pursue success or do good works or check off religious boxes to get the “monkey off.”

However, all of those feats are a moving target, and if we think they’ll earn God’s love and grace, we will only be overwhelmed and burdened that they’re never enough. In reality, our efforts don’t remove the “monkey” we’re carrying. 

That’s why the news of Jesus is so great! Because He removes our sin debt, we don’t have to worry about validating our worthiness. Our value, identity, and salvation are found in Him alone and it’s not about what we do, but instead, what’s been done for us.

We can rest in Jesus’ grace, instead of attempting to find peace through our own strength and accomplishments. 

Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-29 (AMP), “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls.” 

I’m happy for Gonzaga, and hopefully the “monkey” is off Mark Few’s back as a basketball coach…at least for now.

Today, let’s be encouraged to rest in Jesus’ work on the cross, and the fact that He died on our behalf so we can find peace and rest in Him.

It’s not about our religious efforts or attempting to reach another level of success, but instead we rely on the freedom and free gift of salvation that only Jesus offers. I’m Bryce Johnson and you can unpack that!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, forgive me for the days I make it about myself by trying to prove my worthiness and attempt to earn your love. I pray I would rest in the work of Jesus, and walk with peace and freedom because He paid my debt. Thank you for taking my heavy burdens. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.