Illustration from the Sports World

Not too long ago, I received an e-mail from an alumnus. This person was sharing about an insight they received about the church from the sports world. I have always said that some of the best illustrations for biblical principles and even comparisons are found in sports.

After reading the e-mail I was so blessed that I ask this person if I could posted it on my blog. This is what they wrote:

Hi Pastor Seth,

I had a realization the other day through watching the movie “High School Musical” that I wanted to share with you. At the end of the movie everyone was singing a song with the lyrics “We’re all in this together”, and at that moment it dawned on me how being an athlete on a team is similar to being a member in the church.

On a team there is a coach who teaches the team skills, disciplines the team when necessary, and tries to think of new game plans and plays to improve the team. There is a captain who leads the team by example, who is the communication line between the coach and players, and who helps motivate the team and keep the team together, and then there are the players who are not the captain but without them there would be no team and no game because there wouldn’t be enough players to play.

Last night, I saw how this relates to the church in that the pastor is like the coach: he teaches the church members the Word of God, disciplines and rebukes the church when its people go astray, and seeks God for revelations and tries to come up with innovations to stay current with society and to keep on growing. The leaders are like the captains: they lead by example and are the communication line between the pastor and members. And the members who are not leaders are like the other players on the team: they are necessary to make up the church and there would be no church without them.

I then thought of the saying, “There is no ‘I’ in Team,” and I realized this is also true in the church. On a team everyone works together for the good of the team, or at least they should work together for the good of the team. When I played on the University of Michigan Water Polo team, which is Div I, I wasn’t the best player. I was maybe third string and everyday at practice I was called upon to fill in positions wherever there was a need. For example, when a goalie was injured, I would play goalkeeper even if my position was not a goalkeeper. Back then I saw myself as a “practice dummy” and got bitter and felt I was being treated unfairly. I felt I was better than some of the players who received playing time and I was angry that my coach didn’t give me a chance and let me play my position to improve my skills. Sometimes I got so angry that I did not put out 100% during practices. But now when I think about it, I was being selfish when I got bitter and angry; I was thinking only about myself and not about the team. Playing the role as someone who filled in positions during practices didn’t earn me any stars or accolades, but it helped the team get better, which, if I was a team player, should have made me happy and excited. Being on a sports team, my mindset should have been, “If this helps the team, then I’ll gladly do it.” And just like on a team, in the church, if I really desire to live for God’s glory and build His kingdom, then I should be happy and excited with whatever role I play, and my mindset should be, “If this helps build God’s kingdom, then I’ll gladly do it.”

When I played water polo, I was selfish and proud, and this has carried over to my role in the church. Honestly, I get jealous and sometimes it’s hard to rejoice when others are rejoicing and sometimes I feel I’m more spiritual than some of the Christians who are leaders, which all leads to bitterness and me not putting out 100%. This needs to change. I need to change. I need to be a team player. I need to think about the good of the church and focus on building it up, and I believe I am slowly changing with God’s help.

As Christians called to make disciples of all nations, spread the glory of God, and fight this battle of the faith, we’re all in this together. Every role is important. The pastor (who is like the coach), the leaders (who are like the captains), and the members (who are like the players) are all important. There is no “I” in team and there is no “I” in church. We all must work together for the good of the church, that is, the Bride of Christ.

Gosh, it was so exciting having this realization! Now I just need to act on it.