Guest post by Jon Batch
I have the privilege of investing in a variety of people in ministry. Some are adults, some are senior citizens, others are youth workers across the country, and yet many I am investing in without even realizing it, like Starbucks employees, the garbage man etc.
This post is about my boys… the small group guys that meet with Mr. Henson and I weekly. Some of the play soccer, others play tennis, some don’t play anything and one group of them play Football. Their positions aren’t important on this post so we will for go that formality.
Last night (November 18) the ballers played for Semi State football game against the number 1 ranked team in the division. For those who don’t know what I am referencing, simply put if they won they would head to Lucas Oil Stadium for the State Finals. I feel the winner of this game will be a state champion.
The game was one of the best played games of the boys lives, which is a statement since last year the team was state runner up for the championship, a feet not happening for over 10 plus years. Back to the game
We (as if I was on the field or doing anything important) had a game plan that was being executed to perfection. Ball control, limited mistakes and penalties, great communication on both sides of the ball. Leaving the field at half time our team was up by 7 points (remember the opponent is ranked #1). Coming out into the second half (excited since this season we play our best in the second half). Everyone was excited; a human tunnel was created for the boys to run through. Momentum on high for sure…. #12 goes by…#3 goes by…. #97 goes by…. #27 goes by. And finally #74… getting to see their smiles through their football war paint was priceless.
The second half was a battle… one that only allowed a total of 10 points for both teams. It was a war. The fans on both sides of the field supporting their teams with respect of the opponent and energy. The Band was playing some great tunes and the Trojan Stadium was electric with energy. The game came down to a young man who would eventually after 3 time outs to ice him (this is meant to make him nervous so he would miss) with less than 2 seconds left on the clock. Well he didn’t miss it and time ran out. The #1 ranked team won the semi-state trophy on our turf.
As one would expect, some of the fans complained about play calling, others cried for their sons and friends, some just sat in disbelief. The band formed a tunnel to honor the warriors as they exited the field. This to me bridged a major gap in social groups and was a true example of support, respect and grace. I compliment the band director big time.
What came next was truly a blessing for me… as usual I was waiting at the end of the tunnel for the boys (my boys) to walk through and congratulate them on the game. Well this was going to be interesting since they didn’t win.
I am not going into details but God showed up and He was honored through the hugs, prayers, smiles and tears shared in that moment in time. I was present for a senior who carried some weight of it all being over, and another who was dealing with a chapter ending to what might be next in his football career. I spent some time with a couple that are younger players who would be playing more football in their future. The emotions were raw, true and honest. I was just there to help them feel loved, accepted and appreciated, to be a shoulder to cry on (I am not implying that happened), to give some leadership perspective and to others just a smile and nothing more.
I drove home with mixed emotions:
What would the night been like if they won? Would it have been as special?
What would my seniors do and where is their identity now? How will they navigate and settle as a Christ-Follower?
What about the other boys… would they rebound? Did I push too much? Not say enough?
Eventually settling in my seat a thought came to mind…
When Jesus was on the shore preparing some breakfast for the disciples, he was waiting to have a conversation with his boys (the disciples) as I fast forward to the meeting; Peter swims ahead of the others to meet Jesus. What would Jesus say to a man who denied him (as Jesus told him he would) three times? What would Jesus do to help restore, support or kick him out?
What Jesus did was an example in some ways what transpired at the end of the tunnel for my boys and me….
- He spent time with Peter and his boys prior to the breakfast encounter.
- He knew them in a special way, a way that allowed God to speak through to touch them where they were with what they each needed. Peter needed to be reminded and restored, loved and accepted, renewed.
- He was present with them in a time of need.
- He spoke love and truth in each word, and action.
If you are a youth worker, coach or caring supporter, please never forget the importance of spending time with your boys (or ladies) regularly.
- Please invest in who they are as they discover Whose’s they are!
- Please remember God gives words and actions that might seem simple or insignificant to you but might be huge in impact to them.
- Please keep things in perspective… it is a game…. It will fade into the memories of life and people will move onto the next sport, next event or next opportunity. But the time, the words, the love and support will last a lifetime. It will out live the moments of this season ending and another starting. It will out live seeing the boys hang up their helmets forever, the chapter of football ending. It will carry them into the future chapters of their lives. It will help shape them into who God is creating them to be. It will be something (maybe it was a 1 second high five or a 10 minute hug fest ending in you praying over them, or a grab their face mask and say you are a gift from God) that they will be able to store in their memory bank and eventually display and share with a peer, or as a coach and parent one day to their teenager or someone else.
God is so good to allow me the privilege of being present in my boy’s lives, having a team of adult leaders who are present and for parents willing to encourage, make at times and drive their students to be present with us.
In closing, when you are at the moment of victory or defeat please remember this blog post… be present and allow God to use you to shape a life for today and tomorrow.