Since the football season is over I feel like I can talk about it. (If you’re uncomfortable with my reference to sports in a Christian setting, remember the Apostle Paul did that, too.)
For the record, I don’t care that much for football. There’s more violence than I am comfortable with, but that’s a personal view. However, I have seen enough to know there are some strong take-aways. For instance, earlier today I saw a piece on the web about the current standings of the major university football teams. The pundit was attempting to evaluate how viable he thought the major teams were going to be next season.
I saw a pattern I had not noticed before. Consistently, a team might be evaluated for its strengths, but then there was often a comment about one of the players who might not be returning next year so the team’s chances of being a championship contender were diminished. Might be a quarterback, a key running back, or maybe a linebacker. Sometimes it was a coach, or even an assistant coach. The point I couldn’t miss was that, while this is a team sport and games are won by teams rather than by individuals, there is often a key figure in the team’s success. A highly motivated, deeply committed, all-in player who provides spark and motivation for those around him. Even in down-times the team knows they will hear his, “Come on, guys, we can do this!”
He may not be the biggest or the strongest or the fastest, but there is something about his focus and his passion that inspires his team. If he is gone, something is missing from the team.
As I’ve watched through a good many years I’ve discovered that same dynamic is true in many of our churches. I don’t intend to minimize the Holy Spirit who is the true energizing influence. But it is common for God to place in a church a man or a woman whose influence He uses to keep the team focused and on mission.
When a difficulty arises, he or she can be counted on to say, “You know, this is serious, but I believe God can get us through it.” A sensitive issue arises in the Church Board and we hear that voice, “I know our hearts are saddened by this news, but we serve a God who loves to fix broken things; let’s not discuss it outside of this Board, let’s just lay it before Him.” Or, “God is not surprised by this; let’s ask for His wisdom.”
My appeal today is that you determine to be available for that assignment. You be God’s go-to person when the team falters. That you be the one listening to the Coach if/when the game strays from the Playbook. Humbly. Gently. Focused.
By Don Jacobsen