This weekend marks the beginning of my favorite time of year…… the fall High School and College football season. I admit it, I am a college football junkie and this weekend I am in pigskin heaven. The day started with College Game Day his morning and continues with games right up to primetime tonight. Have I mentioned I love my wife for not only understanding, but allowing my CFB mania each season?
Fall is also the time when my local high school team takes to the field, with my middle son actively playing varsity ball and us living in a small town, football is part of most conversations this time of year. Ok, I’ll be honest, football is part of most conversations around our house any time of the year. If its not football it’s hockey, but that’s another subject for another time.
Football season has begun and Friday night lights have returned, at least for a few glorious weeks. As I mentioned our town is fairly small so it seems like nearly everyone is at the games. Our home field sits in a bowl at the bottom of a hill, making it a natural home field advantage from the shear noise of the fans on the sides and top of the overlooking hill. I park my truck on the hilltop the day before games just to make sure I have a spot to overlook the field on game night. Our field has been ranked one of the best “home field” advantage fields in the state because of this layout. When the lights come on the crowd comes alive
Football teams have rules. It is not uncommon to hear each week some college player or another is sitting out for a quarter or even an entire game for a violation of team rules. Team rules are part of the process of forming individuals into a collective unit and shaping them into growing and maturing as players and persons. My son’s high school team is no exception, however they do it a little different.
Instead of a long list of “rules” aka – do’s and don’ts, his team has three simple questions (or tests) they ask for each situation. If the answer to any of the three questions is a yes, it is a rule and is observed. The questions are:
Will this make me a better man?
Will this make me a better student?
Will this make me a better player?
Pretty simple if you think about it, but ever so complex to master and apply. Apply as tests to your behavior not just while in high school but in real life, for the rest of your life. My son’s high school coach is not just forming athletes for four years, he is forming men and citizens for the rest of their lives. He makes it known to them from day one that they and the uniform the wear stand for something. They are being watched by not only the residents of our town, but by all the young players in the middle school and grade school programs as well. They are an example for what they claim to be; Rambler (our high school mascot) football players.
“Repeat these basic essentials over and over to God’s people. Warn them before God against pious nitpicking, which chips away at the faith. It just wears everyone out. Concentrate on doing your best for God, work you won’t be ashamed of, laying out the truth plain and simple. Stay clear of pious talk that is only talk. Words are not mere words, you know. If they’re not backed by a godly life, they accumulate as poison in the soul.” 2 Timothy 2:15-16 (The Message)
The same three simple rules could be applied and asked of us in our spiritual lives as well. What if we started asking ourselves similar questions before we did anything? Would we like the answers? Would we need to change our behaviors to come in line with the answers we give?
When Paul wrote to Timothy he was imprisoned and facing execution, which likely came shortly after he wrote 2 Timothy. Paul was imparting his final thoughts of wisdom and guidance to his young convert and trusted missionary prodigy. 2 Timothy is an intensely personal letter urging Timothy to not be ashamed of the gospel of Christ and to be a soldier and a good workman for the cause of Christ. Paul’s instructions to be like a diligent workman is advice we all should remember or as The Living Bible translation puts it “Work hard so God can say to you, “Well done.”
To often we as Christians feel the need to have rules, the problem with too many rules is they then become dogma and prevent us from doing anything else but making more rules. What if instead we simply asked ourselves three tests to measure our actions against our intended goal, that of living a Christian life pleasing to God. To be able to earn the almighty’s praise of “Well done”.
As Christians we are on display for the entire world to watch our behavior, our performance, as professed followers of Christ. Under the bright lights and scrutiny of the countless sideline observers we encounter during our daily lives, be it at work, community events or even with our own families and neighbors; shouldn’t our behavior speak to our willingness and ability to represent the team we profess to belong too? If not then we need to make some adjustments to get refocused for like it our not we are being watched and we are being held up as an example. If the only observation someone has of how a Christian acts is by watching you or I then what is their impression?
Can we stand up to the pressure of the game time lights?
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