Yep. . . sports can serve to teach us valuable lessons about life. That connect was made for me again yesterday when I happened to catch a sports radio broadcast of Travis Rodgers interviewing former Miami Dolphins’ wide receiver Mark Clayton. Right out of the gate, Rodgers asked Clayton about the remarks current Dolphins’ wide receiver Brandon Marshall had made in the days leading up to last night’s showdown with the Jets. Marshall had said that he was going to play like a maniac. . . so maniacal in fact, that he was going to get himself thrown out of the game by the second quarter. Clayton pointed out that it was “the most idiotic thing I ever heard.” Seems Marshall is dropping lots of passes, performing horribly, and just not getting the job done on the field. Still, he continues to talk, talk, and talk some more.
A little further on in the interview, Rodgers asked Clayton what he would say to Brandon Marshall if they were playing on the same team. Clayton was blunt. He would tell Marshall that we can do without the antics and “do your talkin’ on the field.”
I love that line. . . “do your talkin’ on the field.” Clayton’s words reminded me of a couple of related needs we have in the church. There are times to speak and times to remain humbly quiet. The time to remain humbly quiet is when we are tempted to toot our own horns. The time to speak is when we humbly speak for the One we follow. The way we speak should be more non-verbal than verbal as we live our lives to His glory.
This was fresh on my mind yesterday as I had been following a series of linked blogs and posts from followers of Jesus. What struck me was the subtle and not-so-subtle boasting and self-promotion I was seeing in profiles and posts. I wonder if we don’t even notice that we’re doing this anymore. Our world is so totally self-absorbed that a little bit of self-absorption might seem relatively innocent. I realized that since we live in a world where it’s easy to construct ourselves and created nuanced online personas – being anything and anyone we want – we need our flesh-and-blood real life relations to step up and say, “that’s the most idiotic thing I’ve ever heard” when who we really are isn’t what we present ourselves as. That’s why we all need accountability. . . especially spouses who are willing to step up and say what we need to hear when arrogant self-absorption runs wild and we start to believe our own slanted press. This is especially true for those of us who live and move both online and in the world of youth ministry and ministry in general. Do we realize that if we have to tell others about our accomplishments, then chances are they wouldn’t have noticed them otherwise? And if they wouldn’t have noticed them otherwise, then maybe those accomplishments are more figments of our wishful imagination than they are real accomplishments?
As I follow Jesus in today’s world, the world can do without my antics. I need to do my talkin’ on the field. To my younger friends I would pass on this little bit of advice that I need to be reminded of all the time: Know your calling. Pursue it with a passion, with excellence, and with humility to the glory of God and God alone. Keep your mouth shut about any accomplishments or attention the Lord might grant. . . and keep your mind and body moving with passion, excellence, and humility.