I just breathed a sigh of relief.
Because the San Antonio Spurs just won the NBA Championship, dethroning the two-time former champion Miami Heat. Now, it would be easy for the casual reader to dismiss this as another Haterade™-filled rant but I ask you to give me a few minutes; hear me out.
Professional basketball took a nose-dive into the moral abyss when LeBron James fled the gritty Cleveland skyline for sunny South Beach. “The Decision,” as it was called thumbed its nose at loyalty to team and fans, choosing instead to follow the money.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for getting paid. LeBron is a phenomenal talent. It’s just that he chose to abandon ship where there was no iceberg, much less a collision. Contrast James with Tim Duncan, who’s spent his entire career with the Spurs. His loyalty has endeared him to fans and the game, alike. And, while Duncan is paid a kings ransom for his talent, as well, he goes about doing his work with dedication and rare humility.
I tell my sons all the time, a good player is capable of padding his stats; a great player, on the other hand, makes his teammates better.
The game is better for a Spurs win. It is proof that teamwork, coupled with fundamentals and discipline, will triumph over talent tainted with inflated ego. Everything was against the Spurs – too old, too slow, too small – and, yet, they have the honor of hoisting the trophy.
“So, preacher, how does this tie into the Body of Christ?”
Glad you asked!
The Spurs victory presents a good example of how the Body of Christ can work better. When we remember that the game is about “team” and not “me,” we sacrifice our individual honor for the good of the team. Instead of taking our ball and going home, as it were, we should make a commitment to work through difficult situations until victory is achieved.
The modern church is full of wanna-be superstars and free-agents, ready, willing, and able to take their talents and abilities to the place where their talents will be used for the greater gratification of their egos and positioning for power and prestige.
This needs to stop.
Unfortunately, the Body of Christ, today, suffers from an identity crisis. It has come to believe it is a system and not an organism. Its behavior has become that of an exclusive club instead of a family. Everyone – from the pulpit to the pews – has their own agenda, and it ain’t God’s.
We could take a lesson from the Spurs and their success. I’ve distilled this down to “Three C’s,” Coaching, Consistency, and Cohesiveness:
Coaching: There can be no doubt that Greg Popovich is the best coach in the NBA. He knows how to extract the potential from each of his players without burning them out. What do I mean? A very interesting statistic is that none of his starters played more than 30 minutes per game this season. In other words, they weren’t used-up come playoff time. God has given ministry gifts for the edification and fortification of the Body (Ephesians 4:11) but they are often misused. Churches have pastors that have become one-man shows – and because these leaders think they can do everything, they put undue pressure on their members. The result? Pastors and members alike get burned out and frustrated, becoming a threat to the Body by either destructive force (gossip, disorder, etc.) or desire to leave. Moreover, good coaches lead – they provide the team with a winning game plan. In the Body of Christ, there are many assistant coaches in local bodies but we must remember there is only one head coach and His Name is Jesus.
Consistency: The Spurs had the best record in the NBA this season. For the most part, they were not a “highlight-reel” kind of team. They have conducted clinics on fundamental basketball. They don’t play in peaks and valleys, they establish a playing tempo that they adhere to. Whatever you are willing to do well with consistency, you will be successful at it. When we examine the lives of Jesus and Paul, we see a dedication to task, a singleness of mission. Neither of them looked for the glory moments, they simply pressed toward the mark of the prize that was set before them. Churches today go from program to pageant, always looking for the moment where “God shows up” instead of operating in the realization that the Holy Spirit dwells in each of us. We need to understand that it is Grace that gives us the power to persevere. We need to learn to pace ourselves; life in Christ is not a series of sprints, it’s a marathon.
Cohesiveness: The Spurs simply work well together. Here’s a simple truth, we are commanded to love each other but there is no command to like everyone. Do the Spurs all like one another? I don’t know. What I do know is that there is enough love for the team for them to lay their individual agendas at the door for the good of the team. That’s sacrificial. That’s love. Ever since the establishment of the “Big Three” in Miami (James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh), there have been rumors of infighting. You don’t hear about those sort of shenanigans in the Spurs camp. Then there are the social media sightings – you frequently see the Spurs hanging out together, clowning for the camera. There are many Churches that have no fellowship with other churches. Even worse, there are in the Body of Christ who do not fellowship with one another outside church. The body of Christ is built for relationship – vertically, between ourselves and our Heavenly Father and, horizontally, between ourselves and others. We are supposed to be fitly joined but, instead, we frequently behave as if we’re magnetically repellant.
I could write a book on this (and maybe I will) but I need to wrap this up, for now. Suffice it to say that until the Body of Christ sheds itself of this free-agent, me-centered mentality, the Church will continue to operate in a power deficit.
© 2014 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)