This is a Football

Men have different gifts, but it is the same Spirit who gives them. There are different ways of serving God, but it is the same Lord who is served. God works through different men in different ways, but it is the same God who achieves his purposes through them all. Each man is given his gift by the Spirit that he may make the most of it.

One man’s gift by the Spirit is to speak with wisdom, another’s to speak with knowledge. The same Spirit gives to another man faith, to another the ability to heal, to another the power to do great deeds. The same Spirit gives to another man the gift of preaching the word of God, to another the ability to discriminate in spiritual matters, to another speech in different tongues. Behind all these gifts is the operation of the same Spirit, who distributes to each individual man, as he wills.

As the human body, which has many parts, is a unity, and those parts, despite their multiplicity, constitute one single body, so it is with the body of Christ. I Cor 12:4-13

Meditation

In 1960, the Green Bay Packers lost their NFL Championship bid the to the Philadelphia Eagles, 17-13.  In hindsight, this would be the only play-off defeat suffered during the Lombardi dynasty.  More interestingly (IMHO) was the tactical approach taken by Lombardi at his 1961 Training Camp.  Instead of challenging his thirty-eight players to overcome their defeat or build on their 1960 successes, Lombardi re-committed his Packers football basics.  Football is about talented role-players acting together and complementing one another as a Team

In his best-selling book, When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi, author David Maraniss, described Lombardi’s “do over” in the following way.

He (Lombardi) took nothing for granted. He began a tradition of starting from scratch, assuming that the players were blank slates who carried over no knowledge from the year before… He began with the most elemental statement of all. “Gentlemen,” he said, holding a pigskin in his right hand, “this is a football.” (emphasis added)

I think about do-over moments like these, every August, as football season begins.  Lombardi’s re-investment in fundamentals must have stunned the thirty-eight elite athletes standing before him.  This reminds me that, every year has “do over” potential and “fix-it” opportunities.  If we humbly accept them, God gives us chances to identify weaknesses and rebuild Team. 

  • New Year’s Eve is a do-over opportunity for anyone that ever stepped onto a bathroom scale. 
  • Spring Training (and Opening Day) is a do-over opportunity for baseball players to make amends! 
  • Training Camp (and pre-season games) is a do-over opportunity for football players to re-write disappointment. 

Perhaps, as men of God who are expected to display Christlikeness with our wives, children and peers, we should use seasons of life to do-over failures and address defeats.  God’s grace is Spring Training for believers to do-over setbacks.  God’s forgiveness is Training Camp for believers to do-over defeat. 

Application

When Lombardi proclaimed, “This is a football,” his message was delivered to an audience of football’s most gifted, experienced and successful players.  As my Team’s quarterback, I set the tone for my Team.  Together, we can address and do-over my regrets.  As husbands and dads, as work associates and peers, reviewing giftedness is the beginning.  Moving forward, I need to see and appreciate how God blends the giftedness of my Team.  To paraphrase Paul,    

One man’s gift by the Spirit is signal caller and quarterback.  Another’s gift is speed and balance for running the football.  The same Spirit gives to another “hands” to catch the ball.  To another the ability kick field goals.  To another the power to trap and tackle.  The same Spirit gives to another man the gift to see weakness and confound defenses, to another the ability to spot patterns and breakup plays, to another quickness and agility. Behind all these gifts is the operation of the same Spirit, who distributes to each individual player, as he wills.

As the human body, which has many parts, is a unity, and those parts, despite their multiplicity, constitute one cohesive Team.  When they operate like a Team they operate like the body of Christ.  (My apologies to the Apostle Paul)

Next Steps

As a man, as a leader at home and work, I must not be threatened by the giftedness of others. Instead, I should identify, engage and strengthen my wife’s gifts.  I should see, develop and encourage Godly gifts in my kids.  I should pray for, challenge and encourage friends and peers to live-out the fullest expression of their Christlike giftedness … because we’re all one Team.  Because we’re all one Team/body, together. 

Occasionally (seasonally?), I need to step backwards and remind myself that, “This is a Football”.  God has gifted me to be a role player on His Team.  God has drafted each player on His Team purposefully.  Their gifts, woven together, bring Team victory.     

As one piece of iron sharpens another, so friends keep each other sharp. (Prov 27:17, Easy-to-Read Version, “ERV”)