Apr 12, 2007

Playing For An Audience Of One

My posts this week on chasing turkeys and dealing with critics have generated a lot of e-mails…so I thought I would do one more post on the subject since it has seemed to strike a chord…and then I will move on.

I played football in the 5th and 6th grade.  Our rec department in Easley ran the football program through the elementary school…and being that I went to McKissick elementary…I played for the McKissick Indians.

The first year I played we were awesome!!!  We went 10-0, never lost a game.  In fact, there was only one game all year long that we even close—the rest of the games we just pounded the other team.

But here’s the deal—I was on the bench for most of that season.  I was HORRIBLE!!!  I got to play the 3rd quarter every game…that is basically when the “scrubs” got to play…if we scored then it didn’t count…and we always had a coach on the field with us.

I was so huge that I could not really run…and when I did run I had to hold my pants up!  (It really was a funny sight!)  For the most part I just sat on the bench and stared at the cheerleaders…and by the end of the season I knew every cheer!

The next year was a little different…we went 7-3…and I got to start—but I was still horrible!  I got hurt in practice one day, which was an excellent excuse for the coach to give my starting spot to another guy!

That same year (1982) we found out that my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was given less than six months to live.  That was a HARD pill for me to swallow…I was a ma-ma’s boy to the core!

Another reason that it was tough is that in the 5th grade, my first year of playing football, she came to every single game.  She even had a T-shirt made with my name and number on it…and when I made the ONE tackle that I did happen to get that year—I could hear her yelling in the stands.

But…my 6th grade year was different.  When the season began she was in the hospital…and I knew she wasn’t going to get to make any of my games.

I remember finding out one day at practice that the coach was going to let me start the next game—I guess he felt sorry for me or something.  I was excited and went home and told my mom.  (They had allowed her to come home so that she could be “comfortable.”)

When she found out I was going to start she told my dad, “I am going to that game tomorrow.”  He tried to tell her she could not go…but I guess she figured that she wanted to see my play one more time.  So, my dad got a lounge chair and set it up for her…and when I ran out on the field I could hear her yelling my name.

I can tell you this…NOTHING else mattered to me that game.  NOTHING!  The only thing that I kept thinking was, “My mama is here…and I am going to do the very best I can!”  I didn’t care about my fellow players or coaches…I played for an audience of one.

That game was the best game I ever played…I think I made something like 11 tackles…and I sacked the QB twice.  I was out of my mind!  And after every tackle I would get up and look at mama…and she would be smiling and cheering.  I remember after the game her telling me how proud she was of me—and THAT is ALL that mattered.

She never saw me play again—but I will never forget that day & what it was like to play for an audience of one.  I was consumed.  I was focused.  AND…the results were obvious.

Pastors (or anyone for that matter)—we are called to play for an audience of One.  Life is like a playing field…and there are people who scream this and yell that…but ultimately you and I will stand before ONE and answer for what we did and did not do.  And I want to know that HE is cheering me on…and that I am doing what He has called me to do!

We must play for an audience of One.  

People will shoot their arrows—people will say things that hurt, are untrue…and there will be times when you consider quitting.

We must play for an audience of One.  

There will be days that you think that going to hell could possibly be an upgrade!

We must play for an audience of One.  

Pastors, we’ve got to know deep in our hearts that we are doing exactly what it is that He has called us to do.  Our focus must be laser sharp and our conscience must be clear…and if that is the case then we can rest when our head hits the pillow at night.

I play for an audience of One!  I do not make everyone happy—I can’t!  But when I surrendered my life to Jesus in May of 1990 I confessed Him as Lord…and I will not recant that confession because someone does not like the fact that I pastor a mega-church or that I wear blue jeans on Sundays!

I play for an audience of One!  If you play for the crowds you will experience confusion because of all the voices that come at you…AND frustration because they are all saying different things, yet claim to be speaking on behalf of God.

Play for an audience of One!  Spend time alone with God—lots of time, pray—read Scripture—worship—listen to sermons—read books…and SEEK HIM WITH ALL YOUR HEART!  One of the things I have discovered is that when I sincerely seek Him—He NEVER leaves me hanging!

It’s not easy to do this…at times I place my focus on the people in the stands…but that never brings me the peace and joy that are mine in Christ.  It is His name that I bear…it is Him that I represent…and I do not do life or church for anyone except for Him.

I play for an audience of One!  

Thank you Jesus for saving me!!!  For changing me!!!  May I honor You for the rest of my life.  AND…tell my mom “hi” for me & that her prayers were not in vein…that I am a pastor, just like she prayed that I would be…and I will see her AND her new body one day…and we will rejoice and dance and sing…and will never be separated again!

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