This goes along with what I’ve been talking about all week, rethinking life from the ground up. All of us are involved in multiple activities. For instance, all of my children played soccer last season. We have various reasons for participating in those activities. Sometimes we know those reasons. Sometimes we don’t. If we don’t, we need to seriously consider the activity and find the true reason we participate. For instance, when we looked at soccer, we made some careful considerations. The boys were in a league where practice and games could interfere with church activities. Also, even at the U6 level, it had reached a point of competitiveness (a nice way of saying winning at all costs) that I felt was not healthy for them. So we pulled them out. We made a hard decision, despite the oldest one’s love for the game. They’re back in soccer because we found a league that meets our expectations:
- Development of the person (relationship with Christ, sportsmanship, integrity, work ethic) is #1
- Development of the player (soccer ability) is #2
I didn’t mention winning. Yes, the kids still care about winning. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But the coaches aren’t supposed to focus on it. There will be plenty of time for that in other leagues, like club soccer, if the kids want to go that direction. And by the coaches focusing on winning, they can’t possibly do #1 and #2 properly. Because if the coach is focused on winning, he or she is going to play the best kids. And that means the weaker skilled players won’t develop as much as they should. That’s a violation of #2. And when you see someone who just has tons of natural ability and doesn’t work hard because he or she doesn’t have to get more playing time than the kid who pours his or her heart into getting better, that discourages #1. And this all goes back to, “Why am I doing this?” If I’m the coach and I’m doing it to win, #1 and #2 aren’t as important to me. But if I’m coaching to develop kids, I will focus on #1 and #2 and worry less about winning.
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” – Genesis 45:3-8, NASB
We learn from the story of Joseph that he had been through the wringer. He was sold into slavery, falsely accused by his master’s wife, thrown into jail, and forgotten about before God put him in a position to preserve Egypt and many surrounding lands from the effect of a devastating famine. He realized why he was doing what he did: God had put him into a position to preserve life. He was serving God according to God’s calling. He wasn’t in it for the perks (which I’m sure there were many). When he reunited with his brothers he put them through tests. He didn’t do it to punish them. He did to see if they had changed. And he could have had them killed. But he didn’t, because Joseph understood that God had placed him exactly where he was to take care of them, too. Joseph knew why he was doing what he was doing.
It behooves us to do the same thing. Why are we doing what we are doing? My wife and I looked at that question closely with respect to the kids and soccer. I’ve asked that question a lot in ministry. I find it keeps me on the right path. Asking that question reminds me of the answer: to glorify God. That’s always my primary purpose in anything I do. Or at least, it’s supposed to be. If that’s not the truthful answer, I have a problem. Once we’ve confirmed that’s why we’re doing what we do, we need to consider the other questions like, “Is this what God expects of me?” and “Am I doing it with the passion I should be? If not, why not?” We need to really understand our reasons for everything we involve ourselves in, whether it be activities like soccer or more serious ones like preaching the Gospel from the pulpit. And our honest answers need to mesh with what we find in Scripture. If they don’t, we must reconsider that thing. Have we gotten away from the primary reason of glorifying God? Or are we not supposed to be doing it at all? Like Joseph, we must know why we are doing what we are doing. And like Joseph, we must make sure it meshes with God’s plan.