Over the years I’ve had the privilege of providing chapel services for professional and college basketball, football, and baseball teams. The stresses and challenges in a professional athlete’s life are both unique and exciting. While there are some who might be considered sluggards, most of the athletes I’ve worked with and who have risen to the level of being a professional are very hardworking, committed people. Most significantly they understand the importance of being a team-player.
Guys who try to operate as independent stars usually don’t work out. Their arrogance and attitudes are like a cancer to the morale of the team. You can usually pick out these athletes when observing the press conference after the game. They use words like “me, my, and I” too often.
When the focus is on self instead of others then we have lost our way. Whether in a game or in life we need to support and encourage one another.
A First-Century Play-Caller
The Apostle Paul was a real play-caller. He regularly challenged his followers with words of encouragement and commitment. There are times in our lives when we either need to lean on others or when others need to lean upon us.
I’m reminded of a story that helps us appreciate the comfort and sustaining power we can receive from one another.
Sadhu Sundar Singh and a companion were traveling through a high pass in the Himalayan Mountains when they came across a body lying in the snow. The man was barely alive. Sadhu told his traveling companion they needed to help the stranger. The fellow climber felt his best chance to reach the summit was to move on and make it on his own.
After his friend left, Sundar placed the poor traveler upon his shoulders and slowly carried the man onward. The high altitude and snowy conditions caused Sundar to fully exert himself. The heat from his body warmed the victim and gradually restored life to him. The two men struggled together and leaning upon one another they kept each other warm and encouraged.
As they neared the end of their destination they came across the frozen, dead body of Sundar’s first companion. His independent struggle for survival had failed and he died a lonely, desperate man.
One of the lessons learned from the climbers and seen every week in any team sport, no matter how talented any player is, no single individual can carry the whole team. Each player is dependent upon the other players to do their job.
It is that way in life. We need each other. We are to encourage and support one another. “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4 NKJV
What are the benefits that can happen from following the Apostle Paul’s words found in 1 Thessalonians 5:11? “Therefore comfort (encourage) each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” (NKJV)
In Matthew 11:28-20 Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (NIV). How can we encourage others to lean on our shoulders? How can we inspire others to good works?