I was watching my son play a football match the other day.
In the U.S. we call it soccer, for the rest of the world it’s called Football.
Just to give you a little history about who I am; I have played soccer since I was a young boy. It began in the playground as a little boy on the Island of St. Helena. My parents were missionaries there many years ago. I played soccer in South Africa as a boy – my parents were missionaries there too. I played soccer in the United States – my parents were missionaries there too.
I love the game.
As I have grown up, so has my knowledge of the game of football.
I finally see the strategy that my father once called “Chess-like”. -A player makes one move and then a counter move…and so on. The game is built upon team work, strategy, and determination. I admire the structure of this sport that I played so long ago. I equally enjoy watching my son compete in it as well.
This brings me to my point today, Dear Salvation Army.
Here’s my metaphor for the day – There are lessons we can acquire from the game of football. These lessons can have a deep impact on our ministries. These lessons can either shape us if applied, or break us if not applied. Allow me to share these 3 spiritual lessons with you today.
3 Spiritual Lessons From Football (Soccer) That Matter!
1. Flat-Footedness Produces A Flat-lined Passion:
I have watched professional games where you can almost tell which team will win just by how they compete. The players who stay focused and on their toes (literally) will be better equipped to create attacking plays and score goals.
When you play the game of football, you must constantly operate on the balls of your feet. Being “on your toes” helps you anticipate passes, gives you an edged, and allows you to move faster. If players play flat-footed, they lose a step. That player will not be quick to the ball, and they will become reactive instead of proactive.
Are we Flat-footed or are we on our toes?
Spiritually speaking, we cannot operated our ministries in a reactionary capacity. We must anticipate and move when the Holy Spirit prompts us to move. Sitting back on our heels doesn’t prepare us for active ministry, it opens us up for failure in ministry. We weren’t called to preserve we were called to persevere!
When we go out and engage our communities…
When we get up out of the pews and help others in our communities…
When we seek to be a resource of solutions to problems and situations in society…
When we practice what we preach on Monday – Saturday…
We will cease to be flat-footed and on our toes in ministry.
2. We Can’t All Be Ronaldo and Messi!
No offense to these phenomenally talented footballers, but the game is usually never won because of one player among 12. The whole team has to contribute. The Goalie has to know his/her role. The full backs need to know their role. The midfielders and the forwards – theirs as well. It’s a team sport.
I love to watch teams like the Netherlands national team play. They pass with precision. The operate as a group. Sure, there are some stand-out talent on the team, but without players who can move the ball, pass and defend – that talent is useless.
We are members of one body (Romans 12:5, 1 Corinthians 12:12).
Each part of the body has to work with the other. This doesn’t mean that we lord over other parts and brag about our accomplishments, rather, it means we help each other along- we work together for the same purposes. Do we not have the same mission, Dear Army? Are we all equally important? Sometimes I think (and it happens in almost all Churches) we have “Stars” who tend to get all of the notoriety and credit…just like Ronaldo and Messi. Most of these “Stars” are actually very humble about their role within the Army. We must never lose focus on what is MOST important.
It’s not about who gets the credit (God should actually get this praise…right?!).
It’s not about who looks better in the uniform.
It’s not about ranks and roles and positions…although some would disagree with me.
-We need more team work and less ball hogs.
-We need more sharing of vital tools for ministry and less hoarding of these resources.
-We need to stop comparing ourselves and instead compare our lives with Christ – who ought to be the one we long to emulate and imitate.
3. Conditioning & Discipline Lead To A Successful Football Club (Spiritual Flabbiness is Shabbiness)
Okay, let’s get the cynics out of the way first – yes, of course some of the major football clubs also have MILLIONS of pounds, dollars, euros (and everything in between) to work with.
Without physical conditioning a team will fall flat on its face.
Without being disciplined in the sport, a team will fall apart when pressure mounts.
Physical strength requires sweat, toil, tears, and even pain. One cannot expect to compete at a professional level without first sacrificing time, laziness, and other luxuries. Practice is required, not optional. Determination to practice and perform at the peak of excellence is desired for all players on the pitch. If a player begins to decline or under-performs, that player may be sent down to a subordinate minor league team, or kicked off the team all together.
Dear Salvation Army, we cannot afford to have spiritually flabby soldiers.
I mean this with the sincerest amount of grace. We need to hold each other accountable. We need to press for spiritual discipline and spiritual conditioning. We cannot settle for mediocrity IF there is even a hint that we can be more and do more. God doesn’t want our leftovers on the mission fields we are called to, He wants our best efforts, or complete faithfulness, and our whole hearts. If we are to be a better Army, we have to strive for spiritual excellence and holiness. We cannot remain static if the Holy Spirit is calling us to move forward.
I love football, and I apologize to some of you that really don’t care for sports at all.
It’s an analogy that works for me.
Perhaps it will click for some of you as well.
-Flat-Footedness Produces A Flat-lined Passion
-We Can’t All Be Ronaldo and Messi in Uniform – Be Who God Called You To Be!
-Conditioning & Discipline Lead To A Successful Football Club (Spiritual Flabbiness is Shabbiness)
There is so much more I could write on this topic, and perhaps I will in the future…but for now, this is enough fodder for one day.
Something more to Ponder today…(oh and by the way Go Manchester United!)
To God be the glory!