Living Safe Is My Middle Name…Posted: April 19, 2013
Ever since I played sports growing up, I was always a pretty decent athlete. While playing football in high school, my coach at the time, wanted me to move up from the Junior Varsity (JV) to the Varsity team. The significance to that is I was only in the 10th grade. In Maryland, where I grew up, high school was from 9-12. And 9-10th graders normally played on the JV, while 11-12th graders played Varsity. This coach felt the need to have me on the Varsity…starting as the quarterback. The same was true with the basketball team…I played on the Varsity while in the 10th grade. My talents in athletics allowed me to make it to play on the college level as a quarterback at Alabama State University too. But the way I played may have hindered my growth as an athlete. The one word that described me as an athlete, even though I had talent…was “safe”. Let me explain.
There are some people who play sports with great freedom. What I mean by that is they perform without worrying about making mistakes. I, on the other hand, was the complete opposite. Whenever I made the wrong play, call, or decision, I would be overly concerned about what my coach would say. And 9 times out of 10 I was right!
“ALONZO…NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!?!?!?” shouted my basketball coach after I threw the ball away in a game. I always hated that, especially in the moments I thought through the decision, but turned out different.
The sad thing about this “safe” playing in sports is that it usually translates into how I minister and serve others. I have the tendency to “serve others safely” rather than taking faith risks for God. I play it safe, so that I can avoid the “failures, mistakes” and the… “ALONZO…NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!?!?!?” responses from others.
I have experienced this when I had the opportunity to serve a local barber shop in the neighborhood. And for me to start a bible study in the middle of our neighborhood was radical on so many levels!! And God did some radical things. I am still eagerly waiting to see the fruit of that dynamic season. But of course there were some mistakes I made during that season. And I have received some “ALONZO…NOOOOOOOOOOO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!?!?!?” shouts from men who had mistaken my mistakes for not being a good Christian rather than seeing it as a sincere love for Jesus and men!
Now looking back on that experience, I get excited about God using me to advance His kingdom…even in my mistakes. I see that God doesn’t scream at me like my coaches or others when I take risks. He encourages me to trust Him when taking faith risks in serving people and making mistakes in the process. He wants me to learn from my mistakes and get back in the game!
I believe the Lord is saying to me now: It’s time to change your middle name…