this time last year, i had a meeting to develop the pre-game script for liberty’s first home football game against north carolina central. we knew what time the gates were opening (5:30). we knew precisely what time kickoff was (7:05). we knew exactly what time the team was to run onto the field, what time the band was to walk down the hill into the stadium, and what time we would play the national anthem. we also knew the number of commercials the video board had to play, the promo videos we needed to show, and the things we needed to play over the pa system. knowing these things, we had to piece them all together in a way that fit.
we planned what time, exactly, we were going to show the starting lineups.
we planned what time, exactly, we were going to play a commercial for mcdonald’s.
we planned what time, exactly, that i was allowed to go to the bathroom.
okay, that last one was made up but it was pretty darn close.
the point i’m trying to make is that every single second was planned. we knew exactly what was going to happen at every single point from a game operations standpoint. by the end of football season, we operated like a well oiled machine and just nailed it. this was great and everything, but it also meant that everything had to be spot on and perfect. there was no room for error. there was no room for last second changes. one time we played the team intro video five minutes early and the team almost didn’t make it onto the field. someone almost got fired for that. (that may be another stretch of the truth but i do remember people being mad.)
last night was our first fuel of the year. because some people think i’m talking about the band fuel when i say that, let me point out that our weekly high school gathering is called fuel. we had everything planned. i had made all of the announcement slides. i made all of the videos we were using. the band had practiced and locked in our set list. we had all of the scripture on the computer ready to go.
in my mind, everything was good to go. everything that i had control of and that i was a part of was set and done.
i was ready to be perfect and to be great.
and then we started ten minutes later than i had planned.
and then my game lasted a little longer than i thought it would.
and then i got a little too into the worship set and played quite a few wrong notes.
in my old job, these mistakes would’ve meant i was pulled into a meeting and given a very stern talking to. in my current job, these mistakes led to an extremely fun game and an amazing worship set.
college athletics require perfection.
ministry requires attempts.
setting yourself out there and simply trying in college athletics leaves you with terrible results. the difference with ministry is that god can take our attempts and use them in ways we never thought possible. he can use even the smallest of things to his advantage. where we get stressed and worried in a game operations standpoint, god gets excited and hopefully. he sees us trying and reaches down and uses stupid games as a way to connect people with himself.
god took us starting late and used that time to help students and leaders to connect with each other.
good took my game running long and used it to help make a few students and leaders laugh and bring a smile to their face for maybe the first time all day.
god took my wrong notes and awkward cheesy dance moves to help students put their guard down and truly get into the songs we were singing.
i used to think that just like in college athletics, i had to be perfect when i came to god. i thought that god couldn’t use some screwed up 23-year-old kid who doesn’t have it together at all. i convinced myself that i had to figure everything else and act all holy before he would be able to use me to reach people. what i didn’t realize is that god would rather use my imperfections, my screw up-ness (i made that up), and my weaknesses to do that work. he shines more through that than through someone who is perfect.
we don’t have to be perfect for god to use us.
our plans don’t have to work out just right for god to show up.
our timing doesn’t have to be perfect for god to do what he wants to do.
we have to be willing to miss a note or two. we have to be willing to mess up. we have to be willing to do the stanky leg in front of 100 high school kids. (seriously, i did that.)
we just have to be willing to make the attempt.
when we make the attempt and trust god to do the rest, this weird things happens and he does do the rest.
and he does it better than we ever could.
say your prayers and take your vitamins.
have a nice day.