Comparisons to the Sports’ World

I have always been an advocate for drawing illustrations from the sports world. In fact, the Apostle Paul uses many sports illustrations to make a biblical point (1 Co 9:24-27; Gal 2:2; 5:7; Php 2:16; 2 Ti 2:5; 4:7). Thank God for ESPN!

The other day there was an interesting article in the Michigan Daily. There was an announcement about some top players from the Michigan football team who planned on leaving the program. Adrian Arrington, Mario Manningham and Ryan Mallett – they all failed to show up for an important team meeting.

Do you think Rich Rodriguez, the new coach was upset?

Well, maybe not so much about them not coming back, but the fact that they missed the team meeting and that they did it without honor and integrity (Arrington sent a text message, Mario did not say anything, and Mallet just did not show up… did I mention that Mallet is a freshman… ha!).

In fact, we learn a handful of lessons from this incident:

1) People in leadership always have to make tough calls, even the ones that people don’t like. This is something I have always believed in. Sometimes this is one of the reasons why being a leader is a lonely role to play. Rodriguez is looking to the future and he is going to have to make tougher calls to achieve the greater goal. I applaud him for this. It gives me great hope that we are going to have a great rebuilding year.

2) People do not like transitions or change. It is human nature to keep up the status quo. We love comfort and security. Therefore, anything that threatens it then we will do everything within our powers to fight it. But without change we will never get to a higher level. We should always be growing and changing for the better, no matter how painful it might be or how high the cost might be. The spread offensive is going to change things up in the Big Ten (look at Juice Williams at U. of I.).

3) We are always doing what is best for ourselves. Mario and Adrian probably thought a lot about the transition that was coming up with Coach Rodriguez taking the lead. The spread offensive does not help wide receivers to have a lot yards and in turn increase their stats (they are 1st and 2nd in receptions and touchdowns for Michigan respectively). Therefore, the obvious choice is to try to turn pro by entering the NFL draft. If they transfer then it might be harder. In the words of Rodriguez in an interview, he said, “Obviously, with Mario and Adrian, they made decisions they thought would help them professionally and decided to come out early, and we certainly wish them well.” In the same way, Mallet is making plans to transfer to another school. With the reality of trying to go towards the spread offense and even recruit the No. 1 high school prospect, Terrelle Pryor, Mallet knows that he doesn’t have a chance at success in Michigan. Do you blame him?

4) We need more team players in this world. Sometimes being a star on a team always appears better, but talk with Kevin Garnett about his years on the Timberwolves compared to this year with the Celtics. Superstars cannot win championships by themselves. Talk with Michael Jordon and he might give us some insights to this as well (by the way, who the heck is John Paxson and Steve Kerr).

5) We sometimes think we are better than we really are and in due time there will be something that will reveal that truth. Mallett came to Michigan as a top rank prospect and was on his way to becoming a good quarterback in Michigan. Just in his few handful of games he threw 7 touchdowns, not bad for a freshmen. But is he that good? Did I mention that he had 5 interceptions with those 7 touchdowns? Time and time again, history reminds us about people who had an over-estimation of themselves. Even Alan Branch, who was expected to be a top-10 pick in last year draft was not taken until the 2nd round and struggled in his rookie season. You get a hint of his over-estimation in this ESPN interview. The Bible does not lie. Pride (over-estimation of ourselves) is always the beginning of our downfall.

How do these 5 points parallel with the church?

1) Pastors and leaders cannot be afraid of making tough calls even if that means that they will not be liked very much. Our hearts should always be set on pleasing God rather than men (Ac 5:29).

2) Pastors and leaders always have to lead transitions and change. If we don’t, then who will? This is why leaders need to receive revelation from the Lord and grow in their intimacy with God. As they know the heart of God, then they will have to lead the charge by mobilizing the people to do something that they would not do for themselves (the Book of Nehemiah).

3) We need to always examine our hearts. As we are serving God, it is easy to start developing a self-serving attitude. If we are always making decisions based on “what is good for me?” then we have already cross this line of compromise. We will start making things more about us rather than God’s Glory and His Kingdom. Please don’t misunderstand me. There are times we have to discern and do what God is calling us to do, which might be interpreted as selfish or doing our own thing. But I have always told people the final conclusion should be to look at their life a few years afterwards and see what they have become (Mt 7:16-20). To die to ourselves and our ambitions is one of the hardest tasks for a leader.

4) We have to remember that we are always part of a team. There is no Christian or one church that can do everything (1 Co 12). This is why it is important to learn how to partner together for building God’s Kingdom. In this process, there are times when we might not take the lead role. But does it matter, especially when we are winning spiritual championships? When souls are being saved? When lives are being transformed? Regardless of who receives the credit, things should always be directed to God at the end (1 Ti 1:17; Rev 4:10)

5) We always have to be humble. The Apostle Paul reminds us in Ro 12:3, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment.” We, as Christ-followers need more sobriety. Why is it that we always start off very humble but then as we experience some successes, we forget where we came from? Do you think King Saul would have done things differently if he had another chance? This is why the Apostle Paul who had every reason to boast in himself adamantly said, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life” (1 Ti 1:15-16).

We, at HMCC want to raise up a championship team, who will win championship for Jesus Christ. It is not going to be easy, but if we have the right players with the right attitude, then we will get there by God’s grace.

Spiritual ENTREPRENEUR, Church EQUIPPER, Leadership EDUCATOR, Ideas EXPERIMENTER & Global EXPLORER who is trying to transform lives and transform the world.
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