Ministry Leadership

On Ministry and Football (Part 5)

Read the series.

Most former athletes acknowledge that there are few sensations that can compare with the thrill of taking the court or the field. In the lives of some—especially those that make it to the highest levels of their sport—this can become the basis of a lifelong struggle. But for others, the same passion that drove them to excel in the athletic arena also drives them to become champions in some other realm of life.

I was by no means a gifted athlete. However, I do see tremendous crossover between the physical competition inherent in the game of football, which I played for eight years, and the spiritual discipline demanded by ministry. This is where I left off in the previous column, and I would like to build upon that analogy and flesh it out with some practical lessons I’ve learned in ministry.

For me, any service where I’ll be preaching or teaching is like game time. The rush of adrenaline, as well as the butterflies, are very similar—as is the single-mindedness that is required. I desire to give my very best effort every time, and despise leaving with regrets. I understand that I will never get another chance to preach the same message to those same people, under the same circumstances. Never.

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On Ministry and Football (Part 4)

This past summer I began a series of articles in which I am drawing on lessons learned from playing eight years of football in two Christian schools. I am specifically applying that experience to the Christian life and, particularly, ministry.

With the end of the football season approaching, I’d like to conclude that series and make a few more specific applications.

I want to emphasize again that I do not mean to give the wrong impression with this series. I am not attempting to make myself out to be the hero. To paraphrase one of my coaches at Maranatha Baptist Bible College—football did much more for me than I did for football.

Yet, I also do not want to minimize this certainty—that playing football was absolutely a formative experience in my life. I struggle to envision exactly how I would view myself today had I not had such opportunities.

However, I’m sure that the ways in which football shaped my life would also have been vastly different had I not had the occasion to play in a Christian environment.

In particular, playing football at Maranatha for Coach Terry Price was one of the greatest spiritual blessings of my life—one that I cherish, and one that I possess in common with all of my teammates, as well as all who preceded and followed me.

One aspect of the environment that we shared which, I dare say, none of us will ever forget is the time we spent—of all things—singing together.

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I Magnify My Ministry (Part 2)

Last time we began a consideration of the Apostle Paul’s statement in Romans 11:13: “I magnify my ministry.” We’re thinking of some practical implications and applications of these words of Paul, which fall in the midst of his extended treatment of God’s future plan for the people and nation of Israel.

We previously pondered our need to manifest sobriety in our ministries, and also to model consistency in all that we do in our service to the Lord.

Thirdly, I believe that our text calls us to increasing levels of proficiency. For me personally, this convicts me of the need to become better equipped “to give a defense to everyone who asks” (1 Pet. 3:15).

I am continually amazed at all that people expect me, as a church ministries representative of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, to know! Their questions often leave me astounded—sometimes humbled, but usually stretched and challenged.

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I Magnify My Ministry (Part 1)

In Romans 11:13, the Apostle Paul inserts a short but pointed phrase which has the power both to convict and to inspire. He wrote simply: “I magnify my ministry.”

It seems that such a personal and dynamic statement may be better understood when it is exemplified than when it is exposited. But it has captured my imagination, and I thought that I would share a few thoughts on the subject—for my own sake, as well as those who read them.

In the context, Paul is talking about amplifying and projecting his ministry “to the Gentiles” (v. 13) in order to “provoke to jealousy” (v. 14) the Jewish people—in the sense of stirring their interest in the gospel of their very own Messiah. In essence, he wants his “countrymen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:3) to be motivated to ask, almost defensively, “Why are you Gentiles talking about such things which, by nature, belong to us as God’s chosen people?” This, he hoped, would drive them toward the message of salvation in Christ alone.

Still, I find myself fascinated by this phrase. What did Paul specifically do to enhance and advance his ministry in this way, and what can we learn from him? How can we apply this concept to our spheres of service?

I do not claim that my thoughts here are exhaustive or conclusive—I only hope that they are encouraging, enlightening and instructive.

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