While studying the Bible and participating in ministry is my biggest love, I do have to say that I am a bit of a sports fan. Even if you are not a sports fan, I urge you to read continue reading this one. I particularly enjoy sports that involve my local (Florida) teams. I’m not much of a baseball fan in particular, but as I write this the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team are going into game 3 of their first ALCS which will determine who goes to the World Series this year! That is something that is exciting for me to follow! However, when it comes to sports, I am about as big of a Tampa Bay Buccaneers (football) fan as there is…
If you follow this blog, then you know that I do not write a lot about sports because I know that I will probably only be speaking to a specific audience if I do too much of that. BUT… I was watching the Bucs play the Carolina Panthers in a big Divisional match-up game yesterday, and I saw something happen that I cannot help but to write about. It was an act of complete selflessness that I cannot stop thinking about. Let me set the stage for you…
Last year, there was a running back on our team that was buried deep back in the depth chart. He was a third string guy at best, but because of a string of injuries to the other running backs in front of him he got a chance to be the starter in several games. With that opportunity he proceeded to simply demolish opponents, and ran through the rest of the season as being one of the team’s top offensive weapons. Earnest Graham had finally arrived!
Coming into this season he went through some contract renegotiation, and entered the season as the team’s top running back. Now going from probably a league minimum salary to getting paid like a superstar running back, Earnest Graham has continued to live up to the expectations this year as a strong force on the team’s offense. That is until the big game this weekend against the Carolina Panthers.
The game started as planned. Pounding the football. Tough defense making some big plays. Then something bad happened. The team’s fullback (the guy who normally blocks for the superstar running back) got hurt. The worst part about that was that even he was the backup to the already injured regular starter at fullback. Quite simply this meant that the team was suddenly without a strong blocking fullback option who knew the plays and the schemes required in order to be successful. So the coaching staff started to scramble.
Then while talking to some potential candidates to step into this unfamiliar role, the head coach got a whisper in his ear. “I can do this.” I’m sure that the coach was pleased to hear those words until he realized who it was. Earnest Graham continued to tell his coach, “If you need a fullback, I’m your fullback.” Earnest Graham continued for the rest of the game blocking as his backup running back ran up the yardage on his way to a 100+ yard game (115 to be exact) and a big win.
I am amazed at Graham’s selflessness! When everything was breaking down, he stepped up and made the statement that he didn’t need the fame or glory, but that he was willing to do whatever was needed in order to help the team win. This is the way football should be played, and I take my hat off to a man that showed a lot of us what it really means to set our own self interests aside for the benefit of the team.
This is also how Christians should behave when it comes to ministry and outreach. Too often we act like we ‘deserve’ to sit in a certain position. Even James and John did this, so don’t think that you are immune. They had requested that one would sit at Jesus’ right hand and the other on the left. Jesus continued to instruct them about how greatness comes in serving. That is what Earnest Graham did, and that is what we should do in the church.
I often see ministry leaders make pleas for people to help them, with little to no response. I see needs within the church go unmet because people are not willing to do certain types of labor. Our response to serving in the ministry should not be, “when can I do the things that I want to do?” Rather we should pursue the church saying, “what needs to you have and how can I help?”
I’ll leave you with a little quote from Earnest Graham. When asked about his selfless act after the game, he responded:
It felt great… It’s something I’m always going to remember. There’s no better feeling than blocking for a guy and feeling him come off your butt and gain 20 yards. That was a great feeling for me tonight and I enjoyed every minute of it.