Mistakes Should Not Take You Out of the Game
My son got up early and joined me this morning. We chatted about Saturday’s game at Southern Miss. We sipped a little coffee and laughed together about the game. It reminded me of when I played football. At sixty-four, that seems so long ago.
When I was a junior in high school I played defensive nose guard and was also the long punt center. As a nose guard I was the antagonist. My job was to harass, intimidate and literally destroy the opposing center’s confidence while hiking the ball. I told him there was nothing he could do to keep me from charging right through him to take out the quarterback. I would knock him on his butt and it would be his fault they lost yardage. I swung my forearm in his face to terrorize and convince him that he was a failure.
Then I laughed when I remembered the first time I hiked that long ball for a punt. In my face was the biggest, ugliest defensive nose guard I’d ever seen. He was force-feeding me a bucket of fear and discouragement. His battle worn arm displayed scrapes and bruises proving his proficiency. I was now the recipient of the same fear tactics I had used on others.
I told him he wasn’t getting through me. My heart was determined on taking care of this ape. I took that nose guard straight to the ground. There, I thought, he won’t try that again. When he jumped up laughing and pointing behind me I turned around to see a pile of players covering the ball. Because I was fixated on my opponent instead of my job, I had created a hole in the line for others to run through and the ball had only gone about four yards.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!…And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV
I had lost focus and taken my eyes off of what was important. I realized then that it was not about my fear, but about the team. I had let the team down because I was afraid of my opponent. Oh yes, I had proved I could take him to the ground but I really hadn’t beaten him. The opposing team was in possession of the ball on the twelve-yard line. Do you know how I felt? It was my fault.
I dragged my tail to the sidelines. No one said a word, but I could feel the terror of the let down. Two plays later our opponents put seven points on the scoreboard. Coach Russo came over and stood by me without saying a word. Another punt situation had arrived. Without looking at me, he asked two simple questions.
“Do you have that out of your system now?
“Do you know what to do next?”
“Then go out there and prove yourself.”
I knew he believed in me and that if we were to win I must give my best. Not doing so would put a heavier load on my team members. I hiked the ball, the punter kicked it and I had done my job.
Football for me is only a memory. We each make serious mistakes in our lives, and what we do with them not only determines how we will move forward, but how we affect the rest of the team. Whether it is church or family, we have to remove fear and misplaced aggression from our thoughts, and determine to get back in the game and give our best effort. Our church and family can’t afford to pull our load.
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:1ff. ESV
Don’t let a mistakes take control of your life and keep you down. Get back up, face the fear and do what needs to be done. And when others have blown it, love tells us not to ridicule them and talk behind their back, but to forgive, and remember that we all make mistakes. Like Coach Russo, we need to stand by those people, believe in them, and say, “Forget what has happened and get back out there. You know what to do next.”
God Believes In You!