I tend to leave the sports analogies to my good and wise friend Geoff at Be Thou My Vision. One should leave stuff like that to the pros. He does a great job. But today I can’t help myself.
I happened Sunday afternoon to catch the wild finish of the Seattle-Atlanta football game. With something like 18 seconds left in the game, Atlanta’s Matt Bryant was preparing to kick a 50+ yard field goal for the win. Just before the snap, but not in time to stop the snap, Seattle called a time-out. Teams do this ostensibly to mess with the kicker’s head. This time it backfired.
As the whistles blew, the center snapped, and Bryant kicked. The ball sailed wide right. But it did not matter. It did not matter, except that this gave Bryant a practice shot and enabled him to make adjustments for the actual kick, which he nailed, and with which Atlanta won the game.
Most of us don’t get to make such adjustments in the work we do. I know I don’t. I preach a sermon and on Monday can detail to any who will listen (and generally no one really wants to hear me whine) all that was wrong with it. I can see exactly how I went wrong, wide right or left, and what could be done to fix it. But the chance to make adjustments never comes.
A preacher (or teacher, or worship leader, or whomever) has to realize that the power of his work does not alone reside in his ability to split the uprights. I told our music team on Sunday that they work really hard at their craft and I work really hard at mine. And we work so hard, that we might easily begin to think that the power in what we do lies in our hard work. We so easily forget what we regularly confess in the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in the Holy Spirit”.
I won’t always nail the field goal. Sometimes I won’t even reach the end zone. But when it comes to worship, we are really waiting to see what God will do with what we offer.