My daughter played her last soccer game of the season yesterday, and while they didn’t win, she gave it her all. Playing backfield defense, she may not have gotten as much action as the front line, but I was so proud of her the entire season. Yesterday, though, placed in a still muddy field, she held her ground.
At the end, trophies were handed out, pictures were taken, and everyone went to their cars. I noticed my daughter wasn’t acting like herself. I looked in the back seat to see a little girl with tears on her cheeks.
“What’s wrong, girl?”
“I feel like a loser.”
My heart broke. I’m not a parent who builds up insistent wins, but here I had a child devastated by a loss. I explained to her that I was proud of her, win or lose, and ultimately, that is because I saw she tried. Her ability isn’t what impressed me; it was her heart in the game. It was seeing her go for the ball, even though some of the players seemed bigger or faster. I found joy in seeing that, and she could find joy in trying. My words (plus a little ice cream) soothed a real hurt.
If my daughter is anything like me (and trust me, she is), she won’t go pro in sports anytime soon. She says she wants to be a scientist, and I’m proud of her for that. Still, when she’s on the team, she tries. Society builds us up for wins and makes us expect them, but it doesn’t teach us how to lose. We have to figure that one out on our own.
Similarly, I feel like Christians are afraid to try and witness, because they are afraid they’ll “lose”: get a cold response, be told no, or worse. So, what happens? They bench themselves and sit on the sidelines for the remainder of the game. Voluntary “sit-outs” leave God’s team with few active players to run the field. Those few running grow weary, and the many grow distracted on bench. That isn’t the intention of the coach. A full team should be on the field, and when the opportunity is in front of them, each should give it their all.
We are all called to serve Christ and share Him to others. That’s not a negotiable point, but we go against it by not doing what’s commanded. We “sit out”, and we find no joy. There is joy, though, in trying. Every person we talk to won’t turn to Christ, but those “victories” shouldn’t be the goal. We serve, because He tasked us to do so…with gusto. Too many are going nowhere fast in their service to Jesus, because they refuse to speak or move. As a result, no joy.
Are you experiencing joy? Are you even playing the game? As a father, I’m proud of my child’s efforts above all else, and I think God is pleased by ours, as long as we try.