Several years ago that was the word that a co worker of mine used when asked to describe me in one word.
At the time I thought that was cool. I thought it was great – even awesome. And that’s how I was – “intense” – focused on the goal. Come hell or high water, I was getting the job done, not paying attention to the human carnage I left along the way. The crying in the office – weak. Calling people on the weekend and demanding they fix the problem – of course, they should be in here working as well. Get it Done! Deliver. Destroy. That’s good. Right!
Over the past week I watched my son’s basketball team beat two opponents by the combined score of 106 – 6. Yes, that’s correct. 49-3 in the first game and 57-3 in the second. The boys kept the half court man to man press going the entire game – pressuring the opponents into mistakes. Some of the starters were always on the floor. They pushed the ball, fast break after fast break, up and down the court. They destroyed the other teams. Destroyed! That’s good! Right??
No, its not.
I have learned that relationships are more important than the work, and the way you win is just as important as the win. I have lived and played with intensity and I have seen the pain and carnage it brings. I have worked with such intensity and disregard for others, that my job has hung by a thread, only saved by the good will of others. Sometime, in some way, that intensity must give way to mercy. It must give way to grace. We are called to give our very best to God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 (New International Version)
31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Colossians 3:23 (New International Version)
23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,
We are called to play as hard as we can. Give 100 percent – always. But sometimes 100 percent means playing with control. Whether on the court, in school, or at work we must know that doling out mercy and compassion and grace are equally as important as pushing and driving and forcing.
And that’s why my heart is heavy. I sat at the scorers table for both games. I saw the angst and brokenness of the players. I saw the overwhelming helplessness and frustration of the coach, and the exasperation of the parents. Did we have to run a half court man to man press when we were winning by 25, and it was obvious this team was not coming back even if we played with 3 players? One of the teams only had 5 players.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25 (New American Standard Bible)
24Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.
25Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
There is a time to push it and to go right to the edge, and even more. But there is to be something different about those followers of the Christ. There is also a time to be in control and to pull back, and to show restraint. Both of these games demonstrated one of those great teaching opportunities, where we could taught our children the importance of displaying control and restraint and modeling Christ is all that we do.
I still am a very intense person, a driven person, but I hope that if my current coworkers where asked to describe me in one word that they would pick something other than “intense”. Maybe something closer to “servant”, or “merciful”. (Most would probably just say “Jerk!”)
It maybe that I am so sensitive to this because I am in such need of mercy and grace myself. Well, who isn’t? And that is why I want to teach our children that control, and extending grace, and extending mercy, are a very important part of giving 100 percent to God.
So, I write about this to use the opportunity to teach, I hope that as you read on, you consider your life. Is there a place where you still are running the full court press, where maybe you should drop back into a 2-3 soft zone and reach out to that person and provide the mercy that you have been all so freely given.
36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6:36 (New International Version)
Also, what word would people us to describe you?