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.

Football fumble-recovery

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?
“Yes sir,”
“Do you know what to do next?”
“Yes Sir!”
“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.

Man Consoled 2

“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!

Now get back out there and prove yourself.


32 thoughts on “

  1. I really love this post Andy, especially as at times we can be so hard on ourselves when things don’t go our way. I’ve struggled with these demons for many years. I love the way, you bring the reader into your Journey on the pitch, I don’t really know much about that, but I felt like I was a spectator. We do need more coach Russo in our lives to encourages us though. I waited a while for your next post, but it was well worth it. Thank you.

    • Thank you so much Beverly. You are so sweet to say that. I’m sorry I do not post very often so thank you for your patience in waiting on my post. I will try to do better 🙂

  2. Hi Andy, I really liked this post! I have spent a lot of time beating myself up over my mistakes when I should have kept moving forward. Also this is a great reminder that we should encourage others not only when they do a good job but also when they mess up, your coach sounds like a smart man. Great post!

    • Thank you T. Yes, Coach Russo was a wonderful man and teacher. I have thought of him many times over the years.It is funny how we can look back on our lives and see small lessons learned that we did not know were being taught at the time. God is truly good!!!Thank you for commenting 🙂

  3. Such a wonderful post. “Don’t let a mistakes take control of your life and keep you down.” –You nailed it right there. So often we can be our biggest critic and instead of “getting back in the game” we bench ourselves. Which is exactly the opposite that our team needs from us in that moment!

    • Thank you so much for your comment. Yes, when we become our biggest critic we tend to really beat ourselves up.It is definitely then that we need each other to help encourage and remind us of a great and loving God who wants us in the game. Blessings to you and your family.

  4. Great post, Andy. You are very wise and all of us deal with mistakes and failures. But as you said, we must get up, dust off our britches, learn from the experiences, and move on! I pray you have a great week! Hugs, N 🙂

  5. Amen! Reminds me of Proverbs 24:16 “Although a righteous person may fall seven times, he gets up again, but the wicked will be brought down by calamity.” Thanks for sharing!

  6. Great story to illustrate the point, Andy. I’m always reminded of this when watching a baby learn to walk. They fall down and get up, fall down and get up, over and over. Imagine if they gave up after the first fall. They’d never learn to walk. I’ve made more than my share of mistakes and I’m sure will make plenty more, but I hope I never stop getting back up.

    • Thank you Elizabeth. You are always a welcome response to my blog. What a great analogy you have used here with the baby. That is exactly where most baby Christians give up. They think because they keep falling, what’s the use of getting back up again. That is why it is so important that we get off the milk as soon as we possibly can and grow into mature Christians that Paul talks so much about. I like what you said when you stated, “I never stop getting back up!” Did you know when a baby gets back up, each time he does he learns to balance and he strengthens his muscles even more? We can learn from your analogy here! Blessing to you and your family my sweet friend!

  7. Wonderful post about the importance of getting back up and not letting life beat us down. Not always easy but with God’s strength and the resolve He gives us even when we don’t want to move, somehow we really can get back out there. God bless you dear friend, lovely to read your post today – Sherri 🙂

  8. You know what, Andy? I needed to read your post today. Sometimes life and the things that people do just wear me down and I tend to retreat when it gets too overwhelming. But God never told us to hide from adversity. Life can be paralleled to sports –sometimes you just have to pick yourself up and get back in the game. Excellent post and wise words from God’s Word for us all! Thank you!

    • Thank you Mama. I think when Paul used the analogy of the race he was wise in doing so. He could have let the thorn in his side keep him down, but he didn’t. We do need each other. One of the things that keep us down is when others are not there to help. We should all help each other. If you ever need prayer let me know and I will gladly pray with you. Blessings!

  9. We as teachers and parents seem to want to remove ‘failure’, ‘stress’, ‘mistakes’ from a child’s experience, but I don’t agree. There is so much–as you say–to be learned from struggling. Thanks for sharing this.

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