The first day of seventh grade football tryouts was frightening and overwhelming to say the least. We had heard scary stories about the coaches and workouts, and the never ending running of the first few days. To make matters worse over a hundred boys showed up the first day. You might wonder why having so many was a problem, but we knew there were a limited number of slots. So as we looked around we realized some would not make it.
Sure enough, that first day we ran and we ran until most came to believe the stories about the coaches. They yelled at us from beginning to end it seemed and told us how bad we were doing. The coaches got what they wanted the next day when several boys did not show up for practice. However, there were still too many players and so we did it all again. After a few days of this madness enough had quit for us to go on to real football.
Even after we started practicing plays and preparing for the season a few more quit because it was still tough. Yet what surprised me the most was when a handful gave up during the season, after they had endured the hardest part. The irony here is that now we lost a player or two the coaches wanted to keep.
Why did we go from over a hundred to around forty players on the team? The answer is simple, the practices were hard and relentless, and many did not believe it was worth the price. You see the mere excitement of playing and winning was not enough for them to see the season through. The moral to the story is you cannot win if you don’t play and you cannot play if you don’t practice and you cannot practice if you quit.
Now each one may have had his reasons for quitting, but the result was the same. Everyone who gave up before the games started never got a chance to play and win. And those who threw in the towel mid-season lost out on the thrill of winning district. So over a hundred boys began the year as part of the team, but only a few stayed with it. As the adage goes, “Winners never quit and quitters never win.”
My wife and I had the pleasure of raising three boys and we wanted them to enjoy a well rounded childhood. Since I like sports this was one of the directions I encouraged them. When they were young we threw the football around, shot hoops, and played catch with a ball and glove. I bought a tee and taught them to swing a bat. I know sports are not the most important pursuit in the world, but it taught them teamwork, dedication, and sacrifice. Yes children can learn these qualities in many ways, like in band or other school pastimes, but they need to discover them.
While I did not force my boys into sports, it was a direction they chose thanks in no small part to my led. However, if they had chosen something different I would have supported them just as much. For instance, if they had wanted to focus only on academics that would have been fine with me, after all they were in school to learn. There was one rule though they had to follow. If you start something you finish it. A school sport is an extracurricular you sign-up for each year, and when you become a part of the team others depend on you. So they could not quit mid-year or mid-season. Now if they decided not to play the next year that was fine because they had completed their duty.
Parents need to remember that if you let your children routinely quit or give-up they may learn a flaw that stays with them for life. I am not saying your children will grow up with problems if they quit anything, but it is not a habit you want them to develop. Make sure you teach them about promises, loyalty, and duty. Set the right example for them in your actions, especially as it concerns God and Divine service.
Jesus taught his disciples this point in the Parable of the Sower. (Matt. 13:3-23) In the story some did not accept the Word at all and so they never became a part of God’s team. A second group received the Word with joy, but did not endure because persecution got the better of them. Others gave up because of the “cares of this world and the deceitfulness of sin”. Only the fourth class remained faithful and produced fruit. This is the crowd we need to be a part of.
Nearly every congregation has gone through members quitting and giving up on Christ. Unlike my early story about too many players and the coaches’ efforts to cull down the numbers, we need everyone present and active. I wish all members understood their value and importance to the local work. (Heb. 10:23-27) We need you here, working, and dedicated to the Lord’s cause.
As a young seventh grade football player I had to overcome my fears, exhaustion, and doubts. It is no different for Christians. (John 14:27) We are sometimes afraid of the Devil’s power to make our lives miserable. (1 Peter 3:13-17) Fatigue can set in as we face the daily trials and temptations of life. (2 Cor. 4:16-18) The thought of having to do right can overwhelm us. (Eph. 5:11-17) And if we are not careful doubts can creep in as we face the days and years of time. Can I really do this? Is it really worth the cost? Every peer of mine faced the same demons on that first day of practice. Some did not give up, but most did and they missed out. Don’t miss out spiritually or in the joys of heaven. (Rev. 2:10)