I suck at Basketball. Growing up I played Soccer, all year, all the time. And I was good. I enjoyed playing Soccer from age 5 to age 25, even coached for several years. After 20+ years of Soccer, I grew sick of it. As I got older, and my body didn’t quite respond as I wanted it to, the sport that once excited every part of my mind and body, now bored me. It was time for a new sport.
I decided to pick up a sport that I enjoyed but struggled with, Basketball. I am terrible. I am a great defender, incredible re bounder, but a horrific shot-maker. If my life depended on making a lay up, let alone a jump shot, I would have died many times over. Despite that fact that God did not bless me with the skills necessary to put a stupid little ball into a round hoop, I play twice a week. At 5:30 am, I play basketball at the local High school with some of my old fellow teachers. I am consistently on time and consistently the guy who can’t make a shot. Once I was the star on the turf, now I’m the fool on the court, every week. But every week, after the guys give me the “good game” pity pat, I tell myself, “It’s just good exercise.” And it is.
What does this have to do with faith? All too often, many people in the church will only do what they are good at. This problem of self-confidence is rooted in pride and devoid of faith. Faith is not doing only what you are good at or serving where you will succeed. In fact, faith is often times the very opposite. Much of the gospel work in the church is accomplished by people who are not equipped, skilled, or ready. They are simply faithful and willing. I can’t count the number of things I had to learn or just do when we planted the church. I did them, not because I wanted to, but because they had to get done.
What I discovered, however, is that God used those times to grow me. In fact, he grew me more when I didn’t know what, when, or how to do something, but I still took steps to following him. As I look back, I don’t see what I accomplished as the best example of what COULD have been accomplished, I look at it as “good exercise.” It reminds me of what Paul says in 1Timothy 4.7-8 to a young pastor: