It sucks being the last one picked. One of my favorite hobbies is playing pickup basketball, and though my knees don’t allow me to play as much as I used to or would like to, playing basketball is a great way that I can clear my mind and just have fun. One of the most interesting but important aspects of playing pick up ball is picking your team, because depending on where you’re playing if you pick up a squad of guys who can’t play you might have to wait 30-45 minutes just to play again. So for those who are waiting to play next, it is crucial to try to get as good a team as possible, so you can stay on the court, and hopefully form a dynasty for a day.
There’s a standard process when selecting someone to play with. First if you are next, you are supposed to choose players who haven’t played the previous game, until you’ve selected from the group of players who had been waiting already. From those players, you usually choose people who came with you, or who you have played with before and know that they can play. If there are new players who you’ve never seen before the players are usually evaluated by height, color, what they are wearing, and whatever skills you’ve seen in the brief seconds you were waiting; whether that’s dribbling the ball or shooting jumpshots on the open basket while the game is being played on the opposite court.
What’s so funny is that often in pickup there’s a new person who comes and fits all the check lists for what a good player would look like. They may be tall or of athletic build, toned, muscular, with nice new expensive basketball shoes, nice shorts, arm sleeve, mean mug, and loud mouth. These people seem like they would be great players, but often times you will find that these are the weakest links on your team. The type to throw the ball over the basket on an open layup, or the ones who forget that basketball does not involve tackling. Often these guys will be the one’s to demand the ball, only to drop the ball and then blame you for giving them a bad pass.
There have been times when I came dressed like a bum and got passed over by guys such as this. It sucks being picked last, but if you’re new you just have to prove that you belong by your play and not your dress. It’s funny because often in ministry, in employment many of us make choices based solely on external factors. We find people who look the part, and talk the part but when it’s time to step up we find these people are just frauds.
God is different, he specializes in picking scrubs. He intentionally picks people who look like they can’t play, or even deserve to be on the court. Often times these are people who have never played before, and he tells them hey you’re on my team we got this. I love that God does this. Sometimes he calls rookies to lead ministries, to teach people that sometimes are more knowledgeable, and to take on projects that they in no way would have selected for themselves. God loves choosing people who know that they are not worthy.
My wife and I have been going through 1 Corinthians 1 for our family devotion and there’s a verse that I love that highlights this aspect about God. Paul says the following statements about the church in Corinth
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. (1 Cor1:26-29)
In context he is speaking about God has used an unlikely means (preaching) with a head-scratching message (A King that was crucified) for the purpose to save a unworthy, lowly group of people. This doesn’t make natural sense, yet God does this for the purpose of bringing glory to himself. Its the anti-Miami Heat. The Best player chooses a bunch of minor leaguers in the quest to take the championship from an all star team.
So what are some takeaways from this:
- No one is unusable to God. You may feel you have nothing to offer, no skills, knowledge, ability, but God says enough with your excuses, If I can use a donkey, I can use you.
- Some time in your walk with God, God will give you an assignment that is too big for you. When this happens, because likely it will, you need to trust God, seek godly advice and wisdom from other leaders, books, but ultimately you need to labor in prayer. God is chastening you and wants to do something in you.
- God has not chosen you because you are awesome by yourself, he has chosen you because he is awesome and he loves you so much he wants to share his awesomeness with you.
- We all have work to do, if you are sitting on the sidelines, find a way to get in the game. God has gifted you with giftings that you may not know of. Stop saying you don’t have enough time money, or influence. One of the greatest weapons anyone can do is pray. Take the time to ask God where he wants to use you in your church.
- Leaders don’t make decisions purely on external attributes, but prayerfully seek those God is positioning.
- Parents don’t underestimate your children. Just because they don’t fit the mold you have for them, it doesn’t mean God doesn’t have an awesome plan for them.
- Ballers, please stay away from arm sleeves unless you can play, it’s okay to dress appropriately but sleeves, thigh pads, are too much unless you can really play.
Remember God has chosen you for a great salvation, so even if life knocks you down, as it tends to do to us at times, remember you have an amazing savior who can deliver you, and who has an amazing inheritance awaiting all those who place their trust in him.