Tuesday, October 6, 2009

DO provoke me!

"And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
(Hebrews 10:24-25)

I have a tendency to get a bit over-competitive.  When I was in high school, it sometimes affected me during play (especially basketball).  I'd come to literally hate my opponent while we were playing.  I had to make a conscious decision to change that aspect of me.  I retained the competitive drive, but let go of the anger component (big help!).  I've noticed, however, that it's manifesting itself on occasion now as I'm watching my son's soccer games.

Ezra is a very talented striker, playing on a very talented club (Abunai 95).  They're currently playing in 2 leagues where they play teams that are 1-2 years older than they... and they do very well.  However, at some of the more evenly-matched competitions, I find myself getting riled at the following:
  1. What I perceive to be bad/unfair calls by the referees (or missed calls!)...
  2. Rude comments by the opposing fans...
  3. (Did I mention bad calls yet?)
I tend to revert to "encouraging sarcasm" - a precise & highly effective method of couching biting sarcasm in the guise of encouragement to our players.  This is never directed at the kids, mind you... but at the referees & opposing fans.  For example: "Don't worry Steve, maybe NEXT time the ref will call the foul!"

A week ago, with our team down 0-1 in the closing moments of the game, Ezra buried a blocked penalty kick into the back of the net for what should have been the game-tying score.  Instead, the ref blew the whistle signifying the end of the match just as he was kicking the ball.  It literally was a matter of 2-3 seconds from when his teammate took the PK, to when Ezra pounced on the blocked ball.  AND THE REF STILL BLEW THE WHISTLE.  No goal.  Game over.  I'd never seen anything like it (usually a ref will wait until the ball is out of immediate goal-scoring danger!).

Well, I was so frustrated that I stood up and shouted, "Merry Christmas (insert opponent team's name here)!!!!"  Well, some of the opposing parents got a bit upset at this and started shouting back at me (including telling me to "Shut up!").  Nothing came of it, of course... (except embarrassment to unnamed family members).

So when I read Hebrews 10 today... "Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds"... I realized it was a message for me.  Will I "use my powers" (creative language skills!) for good or ill?  Will what I say bring encouragement or discouragement?  For the most part, I'm a very encouraging guy... but maybe I can stand a bit of improvement nonetheless (especially outside of my role as pastor).

How might YOU 'provoke' someone to love and good deeds today?

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