Recently, my husband and I had the joy of taking our 5 year old grandson to his soccer game while his parents were otherwise engaged. The task was a challenge for several reasons: This was a new league for him so he wasn’t that familiar with his coach or teammates, it was a very large, unfamiliar venue, and…he was not in the mood to play (to say the least). The morning was very hectic so his mom had thrown his uniform and cleats in a bag for us to put on him when we arrived at the field. Upon parking the car, the battle ensued. Our grandson was not havin’ it (as we like to say in the south). He wouldn’t put the uniform on and did not want to play. Through a tirade of tears and pouts, we eventually won the battle of the uniform and headed over to the field.
There was only one problem. There were at least 10 teams playing on the various fields that day and among the sea of parents and kids, he didn’t recognize his coach! We asked him, “What does your coach look like?”, “Do you see any of your teammates?”, “What’s the name of your team?” All we got in response was a blank stare.
After a few minutes, his wonderful coach, seeing our bewildered looks, came over, took our grandson’s hand and led him onto the field for warm-ups. He ended up playing hard and having a great time with his friends. Praise the Lord for patient and enthusiastic coaches of young children!
The funniest thing about that day is that our grandson (the one who was pouting, crying and being stubborn in the parking lot before the game) earned the sportsmanship award! I find that hilariously ironic.
As adults, we sometimes aren’t sure what team we are on. Not in soccer, of course, but, in life. We follow advice that is not sound because we are more concerned about keeping friendships than following God. We join into gossip-laden conversations because we want to be liked. We unite with a group that is discontent at work or at church and follow them in rebellion. It seems peer pressure (a characteristic of the teen years) can be a factor even in adulthood.
When faced with big decisions in life, it is critical to pray, consult the Word of God, and listen for His voice. If there are others facing the same issue, encourage them to do the same. Never jump on a team with (or follow) people who are functioning in the flesh—especially if they are angry, bitter or acting impulsively. Think for yourself. The world is watching. We always want to follow God’s leading in our lives and not just follow the crowd.
The bottom line is, like my grandson (who is actually the apple of our eye), be sure you are on the right team! Be ever mindful of your witness and diligent in prayer—especially in times of change or decision-making. God is, after all, the ultimate coach. Know Him. Listen to His wisdom. Follow Him.
In life, as in soccer, play your hardest, with a happy heart and a positive attitude. Who knows? You too, may win the sportsmanship award!