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Spiritual Basketball

Today we had our second game. Again I wish I could report a score... It seemed pretty close but I have NO CLUE of how things turned out. Again... the kids got snacks and wondered how they performed. I assured them that they did a good job. At this age range (1st and 2nd grade) I have to push them to be aggressive but once they get it turned on they are fun to watch.

Anyway... For some crazy reason we had the privilege of having a brand new ref. Literally this was his first ever game. This poor guy was so out of place. I'm planning to find out if they have a training program or if they just tell the new refs to just play it by ear. Every problem I had today really has everything to do with training (or lack thereof) and so I don't blame the college student ref... I blame the Athletic Director.

Tonight I began thinking about the various things I said to the new ref today while running up and down the court frustrated with how pitiful the game was being called. Before I get into the quotes please know that I was NEVER upset with an "US vs. THEM" issue. I'm not talking about being frustrated b/c the ref is costing you the game... I'm talking about being frustrated over BASIC and sometimes HAZARDOUS issues.

So here are a sample of my quotes to Mr. Ref and what occurred to me as some spiritual application.

1. "Stop coaching my kids and pay attention to the play. I have 2 assistant coaches, I don't need another... what we need is a referee!"
- This statement was made after watching this new ref literally stand over my kids telling them where to pass the ball. I was like "What?????" His job is to ref, not coach.

- This occurs in church so often. Boundaries are crossed in life by so many people that it carries over to ministry if you don't watch it. Someone is being asked to perform a task and yet they have a tendency to mess with everyone else's job without taking care of their own. We have to be sure to give people clearly defined roles and then encourage them to focus on their task at hand before wandering into other people's yards. In this case we want them to ref, not coach.

2. "You are the ref. You have the whistle. When you're out there, take control of the game."

- This was a big part of the conversation at the end of the game. Several times throughout the game he was so timid with making a proper call. He'd blow the whistle and then if play kept going he'd act as if he didn't blow the whistle. I suppose he was afraid of interrupting the chaos.

- As leaders in the church God has handed us the whistle. Sometimes we have to make calls that some people will be mad over. Fine. Work hard to make the right calls and at the end of the day be honest when you made a mistake but c'mon... during the game... when everything is moving... Make a freakin call already!

- We have so many Pastors in our churches who have the spine of a Jellyfish. I get so frustrated that the American church is often led by guys who choke on their whistle instead of using it. God gave you the authority to lead so lead in a way where you can confidently say "Thus sayeth the Lord." If you can't say that... keep your mouth shut. But if you've gotten with God and believe that this is the direction he wishes for you and your church to go... Blow the whistle and make the call.

3. "You're going to get that kid hurt! Are you just waiting for him to bust his head before you stop play?"

- I had a kid who's shoe came untied. The ref literally walked over to my player, told him to tie his shoe under the basket and then the ref kept the game moving. All around one of my boys bodies are flying chasing after a ball while one of my first grade boys is one one knee trying to tie his shoe.

- Again... As a Pastor we have to protect the flock that we are given to shepard. Sometimes we must protect people from themselves and poor decisions. Other times we have to protect the church from those on the outside. Above all else there is one last protection I believe we must guard against. We must protect the church from damage by it's own members on the inside. Gossip and backbiting should never be tolerated. So many churches have an 'ignore it and it will go away' mentality. Guess what. It doesn't. I believe that the church should be led of the Spirit of God and under the direction of Jesus Christ and blessing of the Father. To do that we cannot tolerate inward disunity spread by someone claiming to give out prayer requests about "Sister Beth's wayward teenage son". The church must be a no Gossip zone. Since the church is a people and not a location then that about covers it... God's people shouldn't be allowed to keep playing ball when there is danger on the court. Pastors, blow the whistle to protect the players in danger.

Anyway... It was a fun day and the kids had a blast. They show improvement each week and I love seeing them succeed. Infinitely more does God want to see his Church successful in reaching the lost in this world.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Saturday, January 27, 2007

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