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Story Archives: Bad calls part of game, life
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|Bad calls part of game, life|
I am a rabid football fan so moving here 20 months ago was like coming to paradise. Besides the great people, great food, great community and the great church I get to pastor, I think I have come to the most football-crazy area in the whole country.
And that is fine with me. I have the privilege of pastoring coaches and players from many of our area high schools. I know we have some fierce rivalries among our high schools but I have enjoyed pulling for all of them to do well, and have been able to encourage and mentor players from three different schools.
I also serve as one of the chaplains for the team at West Monroe. My son Trey is a senior tight end and just had one of his sports dreams come true by playing for the state championship in the Dome. Now I have a very competitive personality. No one is going to yell louder than me in the stands and no one wants to see his team win more. So it was pretty tough to see such a huge game come down to very controversial calls. When interference was not called in the end zone at the end of the game, I was standing on the sideline right by the ref. As he ran by me I briefly considered tackling him myself. However, I just finished a sermon series on joy, and I didn't think that would be the best illustration of joy in action! I was mad. Really mad. These kids had worked so hard for this, only to fall just short because of that unbelievable, incomprehensible, incompetent call. (Did I mention that I am very competitive?)
But of course when I calmed down I remembered that bad calls are just part of the game. And I also remembered all this team accomplished, still ranked 48th in the whole nation. It was truly a great year. And as I have continued to reflect on it all, I have considered some other things that are even more important that might be of help to all of us in days like these.
We all face bad calls throughout life. Some of you have lost your job because of someone's bad call. All of us face the realities of recession because of a lot of really bad financial calls made for a long time. Some of you have lost money, marriages, and even your meaning in life because of bad calls. We can't avoid bad calls but we don't have to be enslaved by them. Because we have the opportunity to make some calls of our own. We can make the call on how we handle the adversity that comes our way. We can decide to take the bad calls that have hurt us and climb on top of them like a stepping stone to better things. And we can choose to do it as a team – or in this case as a community.
That's what impressed me all year about this team. They handled adversity, injury, and come-from-behind wins like a team. In fact, like a band of brothers. That was the theme we taught these young men all year as chaplains. And they responded. We told them stories every week from Easy Company, the paratroopers who helped win our freedom in World War II, about whom the TV series Band of Brothers was made. We learned how to fight for what matters in life, to defend what is precious, to stand by your brother no matter what, and that love for each other is the most powerful bond we have. We learned that ultimately football is a game, but that we were preparing them for the real battles of life – to defend freedom and family and to stand with others all their lives for what is right.
To the young men of the West Monroe football team I want to say this – thanks for giving our community a great season. But more than that, thanks for the privilege of sharing the journey with you this year. You have grown in character and strength. I watched you grow in love for God and each other. You are good men. You are indeed a band of brothers. Great things are ahead!
As Don Banks and Mark Foster, our other chaplains, stood with me talking just before we did the pre-game devotional at the Dome, Don said something profound. He said, "These young men really got it this year. They understood what we taught was about more than football. In fact, it was like a revival on this team."
So — referees will make bad calls. Recessions will come. But none of that has to stop us from what we really need most — Revival! What if as a community we chose to become a band of brothers and sisters. What if we decided to be undivided by race, river or religion and take on the adversity we face together. If we did that I am convinced that we could see a revival in this community that would bring new life and joy not only to our churches but to our families and our economy. And that's a team I would love to play on!
One of the soldiers from Easy Company was asked by his grandchild a few years ago if he had been a hero in the war. He said, "No, but I fought in a company of heroes." Sometimes we are looking for a hero to save us. But I don't think that's what we need — not a hero politician or preacher, or business genius. We just need to come together against all we face, loving God and each other — and be a company of heroes for all that is precious in this community we love.
And that's what I learned about referees, recession and revival from a high school football team. Can't wait to see what I learn next season — and hopefully get some better calls too!