Gary Bailey didn’t plan to have a career coaching basketball.
“I came to Michigan from Southern Ohio to play college ball, but I wanted to be an architect after I graduated,” he told the Kuyper community recently at Ora Et Labora, a weekly time where speakers come to campus to talk about their work and how their faith impacts that work.
But God had other plans for Bailey. After an unfulfilling stint working in sales, he took a job in fundraising at a home for troubled boys. While there, he was thrust into an opportunity that would change the course of his life forever.
“At a meeting on my first day, they told me, ‘Gary, you played college basketball, so you’re the new basketball coach,’” he said.
He smiled as he recalled the path that ultimately led him to become a seasoned, successful National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) Hall of Fame coach, leading teams to six national titles and participation in 15 NCCAA Division II Basketball Championships before coming to Kuyper as the Director of Athletics.
“God didn’t call me to what I’m doing now by speaking to me audibly, He did it through that moment in the meeting,” he said.
Though Bailey has accomplished much in his professional career, he said he does not measure success with titles or tournaments. Instead, he believes true achievement comes through having a positive impact on his players.
“When I’m standing before God someday, He’s not going to ask what my record was last year or how many championships my teams have won. He’s going to ask me how many people I’ve impacted for Christ,” he emphasized.
In fact, he added, his greatest professional joy is found when he gets to see the people his players have become after they leave his sphere of influence. When he finds out that they have become solid men of God with fulfilling lives, he knows he has done his job.
“For me, the rest of it is just a perk,” he said.