Monday, April 15, 2013

Play hard or ride the pine

I have been privileged to play organized sport most of my life. I even started Little League a year early because of my size. Regardless the sport (baseball, basketball, football, soccer and even tennis) the consistent mantra of my coaches was, "You have to be more tired after practice than after a game."
I believed them and since I wanted to be on the field and not on the sidelines I put my all into practice and physical training. Imaging my surprise after an ankle injury suffered on the soccer field during my boarding school days when the coach (he had played for Celtic so his word was considered final) refused to put me in a game because I was not "game fit." You see the paradox, right? I was working hard in practice and my physical training carried over an hour after practice (we took our soccer seriously). How could I not be ready to play?" He did put me in the game for the last 15 minutes, I believe, to teach me the difference between "practice fit" and "game fit." Those 15 minutes were the longest of my young career (can an 11 year old have a career?).
Practice is for preparation. Games are for winning. The stakes raise the level of intensity which more quickly drains the body as well as the mind. I learned that day (and relearned it over and over since) practicing and training hard would put me on the field, but, I had to actually use what I learned and spend the last drop of energy if I was going to stay "game fit."
In the church, leaders spend a lot of time practicing and training to be God's servants with the gifts He has given them. I believe one of the reasons these well trained and practiced leaders fail to see God adding many to their church is because they are not "game fit." Meetings, trainings, planning programs and evaluating outcomes are great exercises but they should not be substituted for getting in the game of evangelism.
Reading the Bible, talking with God, and studying the church is not nearly as exciting, rewarding, or, draining as sharing the Bible, talking to a friend not yet following Jesus, and bringing people to church. We leaders cannot be satisfied with being "practice fit." What we are involved is not a game, but, there is a score that will be tallied on Judgment Day and I for one want to see my friends, neighbors, and, casual acquaintances on the winning team.

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