Are you on the team or not?

Here’s an interesting story from the book, ‘Blind Spots’ by Bill McCartney.

Ultimately, we have to keep on making room in our hearts for one another, despite our failures, despite our lack of shared vision, despite our screwups and mistakes. …

Part of that “more room” involves sacrifice. We cannot begin to close such a wide division without sacrifice, without intentional moving out of our comfort zones in order to facilitate the relationship. Some things will have to change. If healing is our goal, then comfort cannot be our means. And when cultures collide, discomfort normally occurs. …

Both sides have to make room in their hearts for the other — to be willing to forgive, to be forgiven, and to change. And yet it might also help to make some ground rules to help things progress more smoothly.

I’ll never forget what Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler did one afternoon. Several minutes after a scheduled meeting had begun, one of his players snuck in the back door and slipped into the auditorium where more than one hundred players already had gathered. Bo saw the kid and shouted, “Smith! Stand up!”

So Smith stood up. “What you’re telling me,” Bo said, “is that your time is more important than all of our time. You’re telling me that I’m supposed to hold everybody here until you get here — is that right Smith? That’s not how we do things here. Do you understand me, Son? Now, get out of here. And if you ever come late again, you ain’t on this team.”

Smith never came late again. Neither did anybody else.

The interesting thing is that half of the guys in the room came from cultures that don’t especially value timeliness. Maybe the kids were used to getting to church half an hour late. But all of a sudden, a ground rule had been established, and that changed everything.

Of course, I’m not recommending that pastors and other church leaders adopt Bo’s method. But I am suggesting that we capture the principle: Clear ground rules pave the way for success. Establishing mutually acceptable ground rules helps to head off many of the problems in cross-cultural exchanges.

As I read this, I noticed something. We all say we can’t, we all say we won’t until … until we are motivated by something. If the motivation for doing something changes, then we change. We don’t change because we WANT to change, we change because we HAVE to change. There are many times that we have our own unspoken ground rules inside. We don’t like to admit that we do, but we all do. We all know there are lines we have drawn that we know we will not cross. But have we ever stopped to think about how that ground rule, or lack there of, may affect our relationships? How it may affect our motivation level?

I think Jesus gave us the highest motivation level and the most important ground rule we could have when he said,

36Teacher, which [e]kind of commandment is great and important (the principal kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light–which are heavy?] 37And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect).(C) 38This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself.(D) 40These two commandments [f]sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 22)

Our ground rule in anything that we do should be loving God and loving people. That is motivation to change just about anything we do. You could almost simplify it even more, the most important motivation for anything or anyone is, love. If it isn’t loving, then it’s something that needs to be changed. Ah, but don’t go thinking that means just changing for the people you love. You see, sometimes it’s about changing because we love God, even if we don’t love the people. Ah, now THAT’s the hard part. I think this is one of the reasons that although we CAN be perfected here on earth, we will not be. It is very hard to be motivated by love when it comes to someone we don’t really like. UGH! Lord help me on this one. (As a side note, loving someone doesn’t mean accepting everything they do, even God hates sin. We do not have to tolerate sinful behavior, but we do have to remember that Jesus GAVE his life for us (even to the Pharisees and Sadducees) WHILE we were sinners … think on that one for a bit.)

So when faced with any issue, problem, or habit, the question of ‘Do I need to change?’ can be answered with another question, “Are you loving?” If not, then you HAVE to change.

You don’t change because you WANT to change, you change because you HAVE to change. I’m sure that football player really didn’t want to be on time, but he DID want to stay on the team, so he HAD to change. It probably took him work and effort to be on time, but being on the team was important enough to him to do whatever he had to.

Don’t think you are a part of any team? There are many teams you can be a part of at work, at church, at home, in friendships, in dating, in marriage, in parenting, etc.. Yet if you say you love God or that you love Jesus, then you are Jesus’ bride – THAT is the ultimate team! In any relationship, if you want to be on the team, you have to be loving which usually means changing.

So …  are you on the team or not?


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