Building God’s Dream Team by Tony Cooke

Building God’s Dream Team
by Tony Cooke

The Apostle Paul used athletic imagery on occasion to emphasize certain aspects of the Christian life and of ministry work.  I’ve enjoyed seeing the many parallels that exist when it comes to those who excel and become true champions in their given fields, whether it’s in the natural arena of sports or the spiritual field of ministry and working for God.

The following are thoughts from those whose coaching and athletic careers demonstrated that they understood what it took to be successful, and implementing these same principles will also help produce strong believers and churches.

  • Regarding the value of everyone’s contribution, Brooks Robinson said, “To make a ball club a champion, the effort has to start with the bat boy and move right up to the owner.”
  • Concerning maintaining focus and persistence, Bear Bryant remarked, “Don’t give up at halftime.  Concentrate on winning the second half.”
  • Regarding adaptability, Patrick Ewing noted, “The greatest players fit with the team.  They play within the team’s style, rather than asking the team to change its style.”
  • Babe Ruth advocated the importance of being teachable when he said, “Don’t be afraid to take advice.  There’s always something new to learn.”
  • The importance of self-motivation was advocated by Lou Holtz, who stated, “Nobody is going to wind you up every morning and give you a pep talk.  So be a self-starter.
  • Often, it’s what happens behind the scenes that matters most.  The great boxer Joe Frazier said, “You can map out a fight plan or a life plan.  But when the action starts, you’re down to your reflexes.  That’s where your roadwork shows.  If you cheated on that in the dark of the morning, you’re getting found out now under the bright lights.
  • Basketball legend, Bill Walton highlighted the importance of teamwork when he commented, “The nicest thing people ever said about me as a basketball player was that I made the players around me better.  To me, there’s no higher compliment.”
  • And finally, Johnny Majors said, “The first thing any coaching staff must do is weed out selfishness.  No program can be successful with players who put themselves ahead of the team.”

While we admire the accomplishments of athletes, naturally speaking, we need to remember that earthly trophies and championships pale in comparison to the exploits and rewards of those who are building God’s Kingdom and whose efforts are impacting the landscape of eternity.  Paul said (1 Corinthians 9:25), “They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.”

Jesus Built (and is still building) a Dream Team!

One of the noticeable things about the Dream Team that Jesus assembled (the original twelve) is that they were all completely ordinary.  They were common people with regular lives.  They had not distinguished themselves as great philosophers, scholars, orators, or achievers.   

They ultimately became a great team through their association with Jesus and by the influence of the Holy Spirit, but they had to overcome problems common to all: inferiority, pride, jealousy, foot-in-mouth disease, doubts, fear, failure, etc.  Scripture does not try to conceal the complete humanness of the disciples, and a key lesson from the lives of that band of twelve is that if God can use them, then God can use us.

Someone related an imaginary story about the day that Jesus returned to Heaven. The angels gathered and asked Jesus to explain what had happened down there on earth.

They asked, “Did they make you King?” Jesus answered, “No.”

“Did they make you prince?” “No.”

“Did they worship you?” “Most of them didn’t.”

“Well then, what happened?” “They crucified me.”

“But after you rose from the Dead, everyone worshipped you, right?” “No.”

“So, what is your plan?” “I left my people down there.”
The angels looked skeptical.

“But if they fail —- What is your other plan?”

Jesus replied, “I have no other plan.”

What a defining moment it is in our lives when we realize that we are “Plan A,” and there is no “Plan B.”  God is depending on us—His Church!  Believers must embrace God’s assignment to not merely be consumers of His blessings, but to be distributors as well.  It’s our cooperation with Him and each other that will help bring the will of God to pass in the earth.  Remember that it’s teamwork that makes the dream work!