Basketball and Teamwork

Alright, so I am playing in a church basketball league right now. It is more fun that I thought it would be. We are 2-1. Our first loss was tonight, but it was close. My job mainly consists of standing under the basket and bumping people around. I wish I could say that my job was to get rebounds, but most of the shots our team takes are from outside so the rebounds come out long so I pretty much just bump around in the paint.

Our team has 2 players that are really good at street ball. In a 2 on 2 situation that could probably beat any other 2 people that they come up against in our league. In 5 on 5, though, things are a little different. They just don’t know how to pass the ball. The rest of the team fights to get into good positions and the sits and watches while they continue taking shots and trying to dribble through double coverage. Our job is to try and defend and to clean up the rebounds from their missed shots.

Now I am writing this not to complain, but because as I was sitting here thinking about this I got a big picture of youth ministry in my head. As a youth pastor often times I am a ball hog. I do all of the heavy lifting, all of the planning, all of the work. I think I do this because I am better at it than the other guys, and it is my job to do the work. I leave the rest of my helpers to do the grunt work, to talk to a few kids, and clean up my mess. I do a terrible job of including the rest of my help as equals and not as just people who are there serve me.

Somehow I have to change my mindset and learn that they are there to serve God and that their gifts and abilities are just as important as mine. As the “paid guy” I should be guiding, not dictating, and I should be allowing them to minister, not just using them. The problem is how do I get out of this “ball hog” mindset. Here are some ideas that I have.

1) Don’t worry if they miss some shots: I’m not perfect and what I do isn’t perfect so why am I upset when I think that what someone else does isn’t perfect.

2) Consistently pass them the ball:  If I only throw them “real” jobs once every 6 months or so they probably won’t be ready when the pass comes. If I will give them a few things to do every week, and empower them to minister and not just serve me on a regular basis they can get into the flow of the game.

3) Realize that it isn’t all on my shoulders: When I look at our youth ministry I honestly think it lives and dies on what I do and how I lead it. The truth is that it isn’t me, it is God who is important, and God can use more than just me.

4) Train them for when I am not in the game: Right now, our youth ministry can’t pull off a Wednesday night without me. I have missed like maybe 2 of them that I wasn’t at a church function, so no one else has really needed to do much. On top of that, when I am going to miss I normally set things up before I go. I don’t know what would happen if I suddenly couldn’t be there. That has to change.

I don’t know if there are any other youth pastors out there like me. I don’t know if I am the only one who tries to take on everything and do it all himself or herself. I don’t think I am alone in this. If you too struggle with the “I’ve got to do it all” syndrome like I do it is time for you to take an honest look at yourself and say, “Hi! My name is Shane (insert your own name) and I am a Ball Hog. I must give my ministry away to my team. I must trust in God’s strength and not my own.”

I say Merry Holidays

I have been hearing about this war that is on Christmas. I am not much of a Fox News watcher so it has taken me a while to get involved in this war. Lately I have been around Christians who are all up in arms about how “they” are stealing Christmas and they are always shocked at how little I seem to care. There are so many people that feel like it is their Christian duty to not only say Merry Christmas but be belligerent about it.

Does anyone else think it is strange that what is intended to be a nice way of wishing someone well has basically became a way of telling someone off. “I say Merry Christmas and if you don’t like it well then you can just kiss it.” I just don’t understand why that helps our cause as Christians. What is causing the most damage in this “War on Christmas” are the Christians who are using Christmas as a way to belitle people who don’t believe the way that they believe. Does anyone else find this just sad that at Christmas time when we could be reaching out with the love of Christ we are instead fighting over words.

I have said it before and I will say it again. If more Christians lived like Christians then we would have this problem, but it is much easier to put up a wall around yourself and get excited against everyone who isn’t like you and paint them as evil. It is much easier to just say, “I say Merry Christmas, darn it” than actually getting to know someone and living like Christ in front of them.

There is a war on Christmas, but it has nothing to do with words, it has to do with Christians who have become more concerned with winning a political argument than loving others. There is a war on Christmas and we are losing this celebration of God’s gift of Jesus to the world because we are more concerned about losing a few traditions. There is a war on Christmas and the very people who feel like they are standing up for God are turning people away from Him.

If we are going to declare war, why not declare war on the sin in our lives. If we are going to declare war why not declare war on poverty or loneliness. Think about this, if everyone who was upset about such and such store not saying Merry Christmas would instead give a gift to someone with a real need this year. That would change some minds and and soften some hearts.

While we are at it, let me just say that Christians are very giving people. They build hospitals support charities work in food banks and with the homeless. Christians are the first ones to help out in disasters and they are usually the last ones to leave. But somehow the dominate image of Christians by most non-Christians is of political agendas, boycotts, and bigotry. What can we do to change that?