If you were to look at me you might simply see a short, bald Sri Lankan looking guy. But when I was in 9th grade I played on my school’s football team. Fortunately for me the school was one of the largest in the state at the time and so had a “A” squad, “B” squad, and “C” squad which meant that I got the opportunity to play. Actually I received the award for Most Improved Player, which probably speaks to the fact that I had never played on a school football team before and had much to improve.
Near the end of the season, the defensive coach decided that he would teach me how to play outside linebacker. Apparently when you are on the “C” squad it doesn’t matter how short you are to play different positions. I was told that as outside linebacker I only had 2 jobs: either cover the tight end if he went out for a pass or play “contain” which basically is not allowing any runner between me and the sideline.
When the day of the game came the defensive coach was not there but rather the drill sergeant, no nonsense offensive coach. On one of the first plays of the game I realized I had a problem. Even though I only had two jobs I didn’t know which one to do on which play. Sure enough they ran right where I was supposed to be and nearly scored a touchdown.
Drill sergeant coach pulled me from the game and put me on the bench. For the rest of the game we were getting killed at the position I was supposed to be playing. No one else on the team knew how to play my position. I may have asked to get back in the game at that position but I know I didn’t try to hard.
As I travel the country speaking at churches I see a lot of Christians sitting on the bench when they should be in the game. They have the right jersey on, but are content to sit on the sideline spiritually. They will leave the praying and other spiritual activities to the super star Christians. God is still looking for people who say, “Here am I, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8) As I mention in my Manifesto on Engagement, too many Christians are not engaged and so their faith has become boring.
Which type of spiritual football player are you? Are you content to sit on the sideline and leave the praying, loving and action to other Christians? Even if you have messed up, is your heart and actions saying to the Coach, “Let me back in the game.” Prayer is where the action is. Will you get into the game?
I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by President Theodore Roosevelt: It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910 Theodore Roosevelt http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.html (Emphasis mine)