Not by your own strength

Not by your own strength

For a few years, I coached with a Texas high school football legend, Sam Shields. Coach Shields has coached middle school, high school, and college football in Texas for over 50 years. He is currently in his 80s and is still training the next generation of athletes at Trinity Christian Academy. You will not find another man who loves kids and the sport of football as much as Coach Shields. It has been an honor working with and getting to know him.

I could spend this entire article telling Coach Shield stories—stories of him riding a horse from Oklahoma to San Angelo to attend a coaches clinic; stories of him sleeping on a cot in the training room at Hardin-Simmons for many years; stories of him refusing to drink water in the 100+ degree heat because it is “weak”; stories of him calling players Yoda and Stump and other more inappropriate nicknames; stories of him boasting about his workout regime; but I will let this article give you a taste of the greatness of “the ole bandit.”

Instead, I want to share with you one of his favorite football sayings. On many occasions, during a game or practice, when a running back would run over a linebacker, or a defensive lineman would crush the quarterback, Coach Shields would come up to me or another coach and say with a wry smile, “It is better to give than to receive.”

This is a very true saying in the sport of football; when a collision occurs between two players, it is much better to be on the giving side than the receiving side. As a former receiver who played at a weight 40+ pounds smaller than most of the players defending me, I can attest to the importance of this.

I think the bulk of my spiritual life, the time of my life in relationship with God, has followed the wisdom of Coach Shields. I must give to God and for God, and not receive from Him. I must sink my hips like good linebackers do, wrap up the ball carrier, and explode and drive with my legs through the player, so I can put my problems, opportunities to serve, spiritual disciplines, etc. on the ground in victory. Then, with pride for what I have accomplished, I can stand over what I conquered, grunt some unintelligible war cry in its face, and strut off—champion of following Jesus. 

The problem? At some point, I won’t have anything left to give — my mind, body, and soul will wear out. Just as a football player needs to rest his body, to train his body, in preparation for giving on Friday nights, a follower of Jesus needs to be continually renewed and restored by the One who provides Life, and Life abundantly, in order to follow Jesus day after day after day.

In this season when we are called to “Live out Love” in our community—which mirrors our larger mission at Restoration to join God in the restoration of our City—don’t lose sight of your desperate need to receive Christ in order to give Him.

Join us for worship on Sunday mornings, reconnect with your TiE group, participate in one of our other church gatherings, and/or practice the spiritual disciplines we learned during Practice the Presence. These are ways, along with others, where you can receive the renewal of Christ through the Holy Spirit, so you can give Him to others without burn-out. It is also a recognition that what you give does not come from your own strength but from the one who empowers you with His strength.

May we, during this season, actively receive the love of Christ, so we can be empowered to Live out Love to those around us.