I was going to write about pulpit communication, but I’m going to write about soccer first.
The other day I was playing soccer against some guys who play NCAA division one. These guys were running all over the pitch on us. I had the task of defending against one of them. I kept hearing from my French teammate, urging me to jump in to try to get the ball from one of the players. I was very hesitant because I was afraid he would dribble past me again and make me look like a fool. My French teammate who’s a better player kept nagging me throughout the game. So, I finally got fed up and told him why I didn’t dive in to get the ball. After all, I’m fifty years old and my speed is long gone. My French teammate explained to me that if I were to jockey (standing more sideways) the player, I would do better. Of course, I had this knee jerk reaction to tell him off, but cooler head prevailed. He was right. I should’ve jockeyed instead of squaring up against the opposing player. That would’ve kept the other guy from making me look like a fool.
Having played soccer for a while, I should’ve known this very basic defensive move, but it’s so easy to forget the basics. I’m thankful to my French friend who reminded me of what I lost. What am I saying? Many of us have spoken in different settings and denominations through the years. We’ve risen in ranks in our denomination or church. We take for granted that we’re effective communicators. In short, we’ve arrived. Whenever someone gives us advice, whether that someone is better or worse than we are, our automatic reaction is very much like my knee-jerk reaction. The fact is, a lot of times, we could’ve forgotten the basics along the way. Before our knees jerk, it’s probably best to pause and reflect. Maybe we need to relearn our basics. It’s never too late if we have a humble heart, a listening ear, and a closed mouth.