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Four Life Lessons from Boys Basketball

Are you a team player?

Some time ago, I took some time to watch some six year old boys play a game of supervised basketball. It was entertaining and instructive to note the differing levels of ability and participation in the game.
Many of the boys were eager learners. They were keen to take the ball and run with it. In their excitement they forgot or hadn’t yet learned the fundamental rule to bounce the ball. They also crowded the ball making it difficult for the ball handler to make any progress.
Their outward appearance marked a distinction in what team they belonged to. One or two wore the uniform of the team but were clearly not part of the team and not the least bit interested in the game.

They wandered aimlessly around the court avoiding the possibility of becoming engaged in the scrimmage. They were there because someone else wanted them to be there so they showed up, wore the uniform and took up space on the court but did nothing else.
Some never identified themselves with a team so they took to guarding and hindering any player with the ball regardless of the team that they were on. Sometimes they even tried to score in the other teams goal. It didn’t matter to them who they scored points for, as long as they scored points.
Sometimes a player became discouraged because he didn’t get the ball enough.
Sometimes a player became discouraged because when he did get the ball, he failed to score.
Sometimes a player became discouraged because he got slapped and hurt.
Then there were a few who could really handle the ball. They could run and dribble, they could stop, shoot and score accurately. They knew how to steal the ball from the opposing team but they were most reluctant to pass the ball to their own team mates.
They knew that they were the best player on the court so they never took a moment to involve, encourage or communicate with their team mates. To them, scoring in the right goal and winning was all that mattered, being a part of a team was just a bother.
Here are four things I learn from six year old boys that the Holy Spirit also applies to my life through the Scriptures.

1. Do not get ahead of God 

…He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil… 1 Timothy 3:1-7
    • The Holy Spirit warns us through the Apostle Paul against giving too much responsibility to novice believers, so that they become lifted up with pride and are ambushed by the same sin of pride that the devil is condemned for. In this way we can become a hindrance rather than a help.
    • It is good to be an eager learner but be careful about getting ahead of God and trying to do what He has not called me to do yet. Take time to learn the fundamentals of Christian living. Learn to rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15) before attempting to teach others.

2. Do not score for the other team

Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in–who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery. Galatians 2:4
    • Any one can see by my outward appearance what team I claim to be on, but they know by my actions whether or not I really identify myself with that team. If I show no real interest in the things of God or working with the believers, if I just wander aimlessly and take up space, it would right to wonder if I have ever really trusted Christ with my soul.
    • We are warned of false brethren being a part of the meeting.
      • I could take part in the meetings yet be working to undermine the believers through gossip, backbiting or an overly critical attitude.
      • I could be critical of others as an attempt to make myself look good and cause divisions.
      • I could teach false doctrine that leads believers away from grace.

3. Do not quit because of discouragement  

…Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed… (Hebrews 12:1-14)

    • By not having a more prominent place on the court;
    • By failures to score any points;
    • By hurt feelings when you get knocked down or slapped by an opposing player.

4. Finally, Don’t be a ‘ball hog’ 

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  (Philippians 2:1-4)

    • I must learn to use whatever gift God has given me for the benefit of believers and not just to improve my own statistics and build my own ego.
    • It is possible to deceive myself that I am doing the Lord’s work while failing to acknowledge and encourage others in their gift. I must learn to communicate and include other believers in that work.

Go-o-o-o Team!!

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