A young man in the rear raised his hand and timidly answered, "A basketball coach?"
How true! Few jobs out there hold as much pressure as that of Head Coach of a basketball team. But coaches are not alone. As I write this, March Madness is unfolding across America. The original 64 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams have now been cut to 32 and then down to the “Sweet 16”. From here, we move on to the “Elite 8”, then to the “Final 4”, before eventually getting down to the business of crowning a pair of National NCAA Basketball champions.
Now, in basketball, to be sure, the head coach plays a critical role. No one can deny that. But, in truth, he or she is only one part of a much larger group. This is because basketball is a team sport. This is as opposed to an individual sport, like tennis or golf, where the player generally competes alone on the court or course. In basketball, this team consists of players who play the position of guard, forward, and/or center. Obviously, each of these positions requires unique skillsets.
What is more, among these various positions, there are still further specialties. There are point guards who run plays and there are shooting guards who do just that - shoot the ball. This is because point guards are gifted at ball handling and at passing. By comparison, shooting guards, also called wings, are generally more skilled at scoring, and are usually prolific from the three-point range.
Similarly, some forwards are taller, so-called power forwards; and some are weak side, or small forwards. While this sounds like the small forward is less valuable, in truth, he or she is usually the most versatile player on the court – able to play underneath the basket as well as shoot from outside. The center, of course, is the tallest player on the team and generally dominates in the lane and on the backboards.
And this all only involves offensive play. Not surprisingly, each of the five players generally specializes in a given set of defensive skills as well.
At this point, many of you may be asking, “So what’s your point?” Just this… that if you think about it, in many respects, life is much more like a team sport than it is like an individual sport. And I, for one, am thankful for this.
As I go through life, I recognize that God has given me a certain set of skills. I do my best to glorify Him by employing those skills to the best of my ability for the benefit of others. But while there are some things I am skilled at, there are other things at which I am clearly not very good. Thank God, then, that there are others who possess the skillsets that I do not.
Thus, when I effectively employ my given skills alongside others who do the same with their respective skills, we all benefit. And the neatest thing of all is that our coach, our Heavenly Father, knows exactly what the skillset of every person is. For this reason, He designs the flow of life such that there are times when I use my skills to benefit others (as well as myself); and there are time when others use their skills to benefit me (and themselves) in turn.
In the New Testament, the Apostles Peter and Paul agree on this one thing: each of us should use whatever gift we have for the good of all. Peter puts it this way (in First Peter, chapter 4, verse 10): “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace…”
To which Paul adds (in Romans chapter 12, verse 6): “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…”
For my part, I want to do just that – my part! And I hope the same is true for you. If it is, then working together, we can serve the common good and glorify our Heavenly Father in the process. And any way you look at it, that is teamwork!
Bits & Pieces, April 29, 1993, p. 22. Also available widely online. See, for instance: http://jokes4all.net/coach-jokes.