Week Three – “Pass The Ball”
“Each of you should not look to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4
Luke Walton of the Los Angeles Lakers is a solid NBA player, but nobody would consider him a superstar by any stretch of the imagination. After all, the fifth-year small forward has never averaged more than the 11.4 points he scored per game last season.
Yet Walton may do more to help his team win than any other single player in the NBA, if you are to believe recent statistical analysis done by Brigham Young University statisticians. BYU statistics professors Gil Fellingham and Shane Reese and master's student Garritt Page compared the value of 13 box score statistics from an entire NBA season across the five player positions to see how much each contributed to winning games.
Their findings? Small forwards who assist teammates and don't turn the ball over are golden. Of all the combinations of stats and positions, the study found that assists by small forwards contribute the most to a team's likelihood of winning. Meanwhile, turnovers by small forwards do more harm than turnovers by players at other positions.
That's where Walton comes in. His combination of averaging more than six assists with fewer than three turnovers per 48 minutes played last season at the small forward position makes him incredibly valuable, according to the BYU statistics.
The statisticians actually used the 1997-98 season for their study, which was recently published in a scientific journal. That season was the second year the Chicago Bulls beat the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals. A follow up with a later season or season, which has yet to be done, could show how things have changed in the NBA in the past decade, but Reese suspects assists would still be the biggest indicator at each position of a player's success toward helping his team win.That's because they found passing the basketball to set up a score is more important than actually making a field goal when it comes to winning, according to the analysis.
Every kid wants to be Carmelo Anthony or LaBron James or Kobe Bryant or Dewayne Wade - no kid wants to be Luke Walton. Carmelo, LaBron, Kobe or D-Wade, are winning commercials and big contracts – but Luke is winning games.
I guess it comes down to this. Are you looking to be a super star or are you looking to be on a winning team?
What makes a winning team is players who are willing to pass the ball to team mates.
So, why am I sharing this? What does this have to do with us this morning?
This month I have been leading us in a study of Philippians 2:1-11 and we have been talking about attitudes that honor God and are consistent with Christ. I have been using the analogy of an athletic team, so I entitled the series, “MAKING GOD’S A TEAM”.
The two attitudes we have talked about thus far are UNITY and HUMILITY.
In this message I want us to focus on verse four of chapter two:
“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
THE ATTITUDE WE ARE CONSIDERING TODAY IS “COMMUNITY”.
What Is “Community”?
COMMUNITY is living “with unity” or “in unity”.
Community is God’s design for the CHURCH. It is best illustrated in the early days of the church demonstrated in ACTS 2.
THE KEY IN “UNITY” AND “HUMILITY” AND “COMMUNITY” IS “U" - how will you relate to God and relate to others? Will you think and behave in a way that honors God and builds others in their faith?
Community will create a church that is:
A SAFE PLACE
Community is a place where I know everyone has my back and they know I have theirs because they are totally committed to God and totally committed to your best interest. You will feel safe with your secrets, your scars, and your dreams.
A SPIRITUAL PLACE
“The difference between spiritual and unspiritual community is not whether conflict exists, but is rather in our attitude toward it and our approach to handling it. When conflict is seen as an opportunity to draw more fully on spiritual resources, we have the makings of spiritual community.” - LARRY CRABB – “The Safest Place On Earth”
A SOUL-WINNING PLACE
Bill Hybels, the pastor of Willow Creek Community Church just outside of Chicago makes this statement. “If you create a loving community, first time seekers will sniff it and say “I want in.”
A SENDING PLACE
One of the sure signs that community has developed in a church is that the young people who come up in that community, when they leave it have a passion to go and reproduce it wherever they go.
SO, HOW DO WE CREATE SUCH A COMMUNITY?
We do what all championship teams do – we focus on assists not on scoring. We learn to pass the ball and commit to making our teammates the best players they can be!
The fact is, if there were no assist leaders there would be no scoring leaders because you can’t score if you don’t have the ball! And if the ball isn’t passed to you, you won’t have it.
WHAT IS “THE BALL”?
The ball is everything you desire for yourself – the attention, the praise, the control, the affirmation, the prestige, the power, the ambition, the ego boost – basically- self-centeredness.
HOW HARD CAN IT BE TO PASS THE BALL?
I guess I’ll let you decide!
You Have To Be Willing To Give Up The Ball– CONQUER SELFISHNESS
When I played basketball – whether it was junior high, high school, or the one year I played in college – my position was point guard. That meant it was my job to pass the ball and set up the offense.
I have to admit that I didn’t always FEEL like passing the ball. I would have been happy to shoot the ball every time I had it. I would have loved to put on a Curly Neal Globetrotter dribbling exhibition. That is human nature. BUT – if I wanted to be on the team and if I wanted to get playing time and if I wanted to help the team win, I needed to get beyond my selfish desires and pass the ball.
When I passed the ball 20 times a game we would usually win. If I would have shot the ball 20 times a game we would not have won. And when I pass the ball I want to help them get the best shot they can get.
Paul says in verse 4 – “Each of you should not look only to your own interest….”
In other words – the game is not about you! It is about Him and His Church. That means you must do what helps the Church win. That means you can’t shoot the ball every time you feel like it. You must be willing to give up the ball to help others be successful. It means that you can’t be guided by your human FEELINGS, you must be guided by His FAITH.
SIGNS OF SELFISHNESS:
HOGGING THE BALL - I am going to take the shot, I am going to make the play, I am the best player so why should I pass the ball?
SELFISHNESS or SELF-CENTEREDNESS KILLS A CHURCH – GIVING UP THE BALL HELPS CONQUER SELFISHNESS.
Look For The Open Man – CONCENTRATE ON OTHERS
Again, that is what Paul is saying to the Philippians – “concentrate on others…..”
HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE HEARD OF MICHAEL JORDAN? HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE HEARD OF JOHN PAXSON OR STEVE KERR? THEY WERE THE GUYS WHO GOT JORDAN THE BALL.
In game 7 of the NBA Championship in 1993, with 14 seconds left and the Phoenix Suns with a 2 point lead, here’s what happened:
Jordan, double-teamed in the backcourt, fed the ball to Scottie Pippen, who drove the lane. Suns center Mark West moved over to block his path, so Pippen dished the ball to Grant in the low post. Grant, who had scored just one point in each of the previous two games but more than made up for it with tireless defense and hustle under the boards, eschewed a forced shot and instead passed the ball back out to Paxson, who was lurking in three-point land. Phoenix's Danny Ainge, who had dropped back to harass Grant, could do nothing but watch as Paxson nailed the three for the win!
IF THE GREATEST PLAYER OF ALL TIME LOOKED FOR THE OPEN MAN HOW ABOUT YOU?
WHO CAN I HELP TO LOOK GOOD? WHAT CAN I DO TO MAKE THEM LOOK GOOD?CAN I HELP SOMEONE ELSE GET A WIN? CAN I SHARE THAT GOOD IDEA AND GIVE SOMEONE ELSE THE CREDIT? CAN IT SET UP A SITUATION THAT ENABLES SOMEONE ELSE TO LOOK GOOD? WILL I DO IT?
Celebrate When He Scores – COMPLETE DON’T COMPETE
Perhaps this is the ultimate test of community – can you be as excited when your brother or sister gets the score as you would if you had gotten it?
I got to tell you, it is a thrill to take a shot and watch it SWISH through the net and to hear the crowd yell! That is fun! That feels good!
It doesn’t feel quite as good when I pass up the shot, pass the ball to the open man and he gets the score. He gets the thrill and he gets the cheers and I have to feel equally good about that!
Yes, that’s right! That’s unity! That’s humility! That is what creates community.
We need to be committed to completing each other and completing the mission – not on competing with each other. That’s what makes a team a team. They agree to complete each other so they can compete against the opponent.
We also need to be committed to completing each other because sometimes we give up the ball and the teammate fumbles the ball, or misses the easy shot, or the ball gets stolen – you give up and they goof it up……….You need to stay committed to that person and the next time their open - pass it again!
Here’s what can happen in a community where there is unity and humility and people pass the ball:
That's what COMMUNITY looks like! That is what COMMUNITY can feel like. It's what God desires for His Church - for our church!
WHEN YOU PASS ARE UNITED AND HUMBLE AND WILLING TO PASS THE BALL EVERYONE GETS THEIR CHANGE TO SHINE, EVERYONE CHEERS, AND THE TEAM WINS!
What are you doing to contribute to the community of FredWes?
Have You Conquered Selfishness By Passing The Ball To Teammates?
Do you hog the ball? Do you crave all the attention and demand all the praise?
Do you drop the ball? Do you want the attention but not the responsibilities that go with it?
Do you take your ball and go home? Do you quit the game or disrupt the game when it doesn't go your way?
Are You Concentrating On Others By Looking For The Open Man?
Do you consciously look for ways to help others succeed?
Are you making as much effort to assist others as you do to make yourself look good?
Are You Celebrating When Others Score?
Do you find as much joy when others succeed as you do in your own success?
These are the keys to creating community - a winning team that creates an environment for every player to get better and make non-players want to join the team. This is what God has in mind for Fredericksburg Wesleyan Church? Is this what you have in mind?