"What Would Jesus Say to... Series 3"
He’s the best hockey player on the planet. For the first few years of his career, it looked like he had competition from players like Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Henrick Sedin. But this year… this year he has separated himself from the rest. It’s really not even a debate anymore; he’s the best player on the planet. I’m talking, of course, about Sid the Kid… Sidney Crosby.
I first heard about Crosby about eight years ago. At the time, Crosby was just a fifteen year old kid from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. (Which also happens to be the hometown of my wife.) And the reason I remember is because it was about that time that I read a quote from Wayne Gretzky saying that if Gretzky’s records were ever going to be broken, it was going to be this who would do it. Pretty high praise, coming from the greatest offensive hockey player in history.
I also remember how while Crosby was playing for the junior team from Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League he also represented Canada at the World Junior Championships in 2004 and 2005. I especially remember 2005, because it was shortly after that competition ended that Rimouski was to play here in Charlottetown. But since he had just returned from the World Juniors, he was given that game off. So there were a lot of disappointed people in this city who had been hoping to see this young phenom in action.
Later in 2005, Crosby was to be drafted into the NHL. In fact, he was so highly regarded as one of the best prospects in history that those drafts became known as the Sidney Crosby Sweepstakes. And as you know, the Pittsburg Penguins won those sweepstakes. He was drafted by the team owner, and then moved in with the owner’s family where he doubled as a babysitter. And you know the owner of the team… Mario Lemieux. Crosby lived with the Lemieux family from 2005 until 2010. Not a bad mentoring relationship.
Well, in his first year in the NHL, Crosby finished sixth in total points. A phenomenal accomplishment for a rookie, beating the previous record for the Penguins which had been held by Lemieux.
In his second year, he led the league in points, becoming the only teenager to ever do that in any major North American sports league and earning him the Art Ross Trophy, the Hart Memorial Trophy, and the Lester B. Pearson Award.
In 2008, he led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup finals where they lost to the Detroit Red Wings. But both teams were back in 2009, and this time Crosby’s Penguins won the Cup, making Crosby the youngest player to ever captain his team to the Stanley Cup Championships.
In 2010, he set a new career high for goals scored, earning him the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league leader in goals, and he also took home the Mark Messier Leadership Award.
Of course, beyond any of these accomplishments, Crosby has gained a place in Canadian history for one goal in particular that he scored last February. You remember that, right? The 2010 Vancouver Olympics… Team Canada and the USA meet in the gold medal game… the USA ties it up late in the third and all of us begin panicking. But seven minutes and forty seconds into overtime, Crosby shoveled the puck past Ryan Miller in the US net, scoring the winning goal and claiming a record fourteenth gold medal for Canada.
And the kid’s only 23. Barring injury, he should have several years and a dynamic career in front of him. But even at his young age, he has some significant accomplishments…
• First rookie to record 100 points and 100 penalty minutes in a season.
• Youngest player to record 100 points in a season.
• Youngest player to record 200 career points (19 years and 207 days).
• Youngest player to record 2 consecutive 100 point seasons.
• Youngest player voted to the starting lineup in an All-Star Game.
• Youngest Art Ross Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Award winner.
• Youngest player to be named to the First All-Star Team.
• Youngest full-time team captain.
• Youngest Player to Lead NHL Playoffs in scoring (20 years, 9 months, and 28 days).
• Youngest NHL captain to win Stanley Cup (21 years, 10 months, and 5 days)
So why am I talking about Sidney Crosby? Because this is part one in a new message series we’re calling “What Would Jesus Say to…” Starting today and taking us through February, we’re going to be taking a look at another famous person and asking the question, “What would Jesus say to them?” And as we look at what Jesus would say to them, we’ll also be looking at what Jesus would say to us.
Next week, we’re going to be talking about “What Would Jesus Say to Mark Zuckerburg?”, the founder of Facebook, as we talk about surviving social media. The next week, it’ll be “What Would Jesus Say to Tiger Woods?” That week we’ll be talking about rebuilding your shattered world. Then it’ll be “What Would Jesus Say to Justin Bieber?” Bieber, a native of Stratford, Ontario, has skyrocketed to fame over the past year, and so we’ll be talking about living in the spotlight and what it means to set an example for others. And then we’ll wrap this series up by talking about “What Would Jesus Say to Billy Graham?” Specifically, we’ll be talking about what it means to leave a legacy.
And as you have probably figured out by now, today we’re talking about “What Would Jesus Say to Sidney Crosby?” We’re going to look at six different things that I think Jesus might say to Sidney Crosby, and you can use your notes to follow along and fill in the blanks as we go. Okay?
1. Use your gifts to benefit the team.
You know one thing I haven’t seen Crosby do? I haven’t seen him strap on the goalie pads and play a game in the net. Why? Because that’s not what he’s good at. He’s not a goalie; he’s a playmaker and a scorer. That’s what he does best. That’s what he has to offer his team. Those are his gifts. Those are his abilities. Those are his strengths.
And that’s what Crosby works on the most, too. He works to develop the skills he has, not the skills he doesn’t have. Now, he does try to minimize his weaknesses to make sure they don’t become a hindrance. But he knows that his success and the success of the team depends more on him using his strengths rather than trying to make up for his weaknesses. He’s responsible to use and develop the ability he has, not the ability he doesn’t have.
“A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses those skills to accomplish his goals.”
~ Larry Bird (American Basketball Player, Coach)
What are you good at? What talents, gifts and abilities has God blessed you with?
Romans 12:6 (NLT)
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.
Underline the words, “doing certain things well.” God has given you specific gifts. He has given you the ability to do certain things well. The flip side is, you have not been gifted to do other things well. And even if you pour a lot of effort into improving in those areas, you’re going to at best become mediocre.
Your greatest contribution to the team is when you are using your abilities to serve in the areas of your giftedness.
So what you need to do is figure out what those areas are. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? Where do you see results? In what areas do you see significant growth potential?
For example, are you gifted as a teacher? And I’m not talking about being a professional teacher in the school system. I’m just talking about being able to speak into the lives of others and influence them and help to train them. Do you see that ability within yourself? Do others come to you for advice? Then you may want to nurture that ability and get involved in ministries that use those gifts.
Or do you enjoy working with children? Do you seem to have some natural or God-given abilities in that area? Then perhaps you should volunteer to serve in those kinds of areas.
The Bible actually talks about something called “spiritual gifts.” These are special abilities that the Holy Spirit gives to every Christ-follower as He sees fit. And He gives these abilities to you for you to use to serve God and to serve others. I’m actually going to be talking more about this later on this Spring. But here’s a list of some the spiritual gifts the Bible talks about…
[List compiled from Exodus 31:3, Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-11, Ephesians 4:11-13, and 1 Peter 4:9]
Where are you gifted? How can you use those gifts? In what ministries should you get involved? And listen… it’s not uncommon for people to be unaware of how they are gifted. If that’s you, then what I would recommend is getting involved in a variety of ministries for short periods of time until you figure it out. There are gift discovery tests you can take, and they can be helpful. There are plenty available online, or you can talk to me and I can get one for you. But the best way to discover your gifts is to experiment with them.
And listen… once you discover how God has gifted you, and once you start to volunteer and serve in those areas, two things are going to happen:
When you serve where you’re gifted…
• You’ll be happier.
• The team (i.e. church) will be more effective.
Okay, so I think the first thing Jesus would say to Sidney Crosby and to us is to use our gifts to benefit the team. I think He would also say…
2. Always give your best effort.
Not only should you use your gifts, but you should use them to the fullest. Always give your best effort.
Wayne Gretzky used to say that in every game he knew someone was seeing him for the first time and someone was seeing him for the last time. And he didn’t want to disappoint either one so he always gave his best effort. He was always aware of his audience. You and I… we perform for an audience, too.
Colossians 3:24 (NLT)
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
The apostle Paul who wrote those words was specifically writing to slaves. The Bible never endorsed slavery, but it treated it as a reality in the culture then just as it still is in parts of the world today. We’ve talked before about the problem of human trafficking even here in Canada.
So Paul was saying, “I know you’re a slave, but you should still give your best effort… not for your slave-masters but for God.” For you and me, we can apply these words to how we perform at our jobs. Do we work hard and do a good job only when our boss is watching over our shoulder, or do we give our best effort even when no one is supervising us?
I think this also applies to how we work together as the Church. For you and me, this means that whenever we are serving God and others in any capacity, even if it seems small or insignificant, we should still give our best effort. Even when it will go unnoticed by others, we should give our best effort. Because we’re not just doing it for them; we’re doing it for God. We perform for an audience of One.
Now, Sidney Crosby performs well in big ways because he pays attention to how he performs in the little ways. When he first entered the league, he lost most of the face-offs. But he’s worked at that during the off-season, he made tiny adjustments, and now he’s one of the best face-off takers in the league. He gives his best effort in ways that often go unnoticed, and that is why he succeeds.
“Bigness comes from doing many small things well. Individually, they are not very dramatic transactions. Together, though, they add up.”
~ Edward S. Finkelstein
So we always give our best effort when it comes to serving God and serving others. We don’t buy into the mindset that “good enough is good enough.” Instead, we always strive to do our best because God is deserving of nothing less. That doesn’t mean that we don’t make mistakes… like any team we win some and we lose some. But we don’t lose because of lack of effort.
3. Every team member is important to the team’s success.
In hockey, you typically have a goalie, 2 defensemen, and 3 forwards (left wing, right wing, and center) on the ice for your team. So each player plays a specific position and performs a specific task.
For example, the goalie’s job is to keep the puck out of the net, plain and simple. And being goalie is a very important job, but not everyone can be goalie and not everyone wants to be goalie.
Former New York Rangers goaltender Gump Worsley was comparing being a goaltender to other professions when he said…
“The only job worse is a javelin catcher at a track-and-field meet.”
~ former New York Rangers goaltender Gump Worsley
Jacques Plante, the first NHL goalie to wear a mask… the guy you’ve seen in the heritage Canada commercials… expressed a similar thought when he asked…
“How would you like a job where, every time you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?”
~ Jacques Plante
Some people are goaltenders, but most aren’t. And that’s a good thing. You can’t have a whole team of goalkeepers, or you’ll never win a game because you’ll never be able to score. Likewise, the Penguins would have a hard time winning if all they had were a bunch of centers like Sidney Crosby. Sure, they’d have a lot of talent up front. But you also need the role players and the defensive specialists and, of course, a goalie.
In the verses just before that passage that Lynn read for us earlier, the apostle Paul described the Church not as a team but as a body when he wrote…
Romans 12:4-5 (NLT)
Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
In hockey, the players know their positions, they know what they’re good at, and they know how they can contribute to the success of the team. In the church we need to learn that, too. Every one of us has something to contribute to the team. In fact, we can never reach our full potential as a Church until each one of us is contributing in big and small ways.
4. Real success only comes as a result of teamwork.
Earlier, I spouted off some of Sidney Crosby’s accomplishments. And he has some pretty impressive individual statistics. But do you know what he would regard as his greatest accomplishments? His World Junior Championships in 2004 and 2005, his 2009 Stanley Cup, and his 2010 Olympic gold. What’s the common denominator? They are all team accomplishments. They’re not individual accomplishments; they’re team accomplishments.
If you happen to be someone who pays attention to who is inducted into sports halls of fame… whether it’s hockey, basketball, baseball, or football… you know that every year there are players who have amassed impressive career statistics that are left out of the hall. Why? In many cases, it’s because they’ve had no team success. They’ve won no championships. And for the people who vote members into the Hall, what matters most is what the player contributed to the team.
Phil Esposito, a hockey legend and one of the heroes of the 1972 Summit Series, had this to say about teamwork…
“Unless you become a team, you can’t win. You cannot win as individuals in the sport of hockey or any other team sport, period.”
~ Phil Esposito
Babe Ruth said…
“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”
~ Babe Ruth
It seems we’ve been reading a lot of Paul’s words this morning. Well, Paul understood that even though he was an apostle he was part of the greater team. He understood that he wasn’t on his own… he was partnering with other believers. To the believers in the city of Philippi, he wrote…
Philippians 1:3-5 (NLT)
Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.
Real success only comes as a result of teamwork. We need each other. Paul couldn’t do it alone; you and I can’t do it alone. And we shouldn’t have to. We’re all on the same team. We all have something to contribute. Some of us are more upfront and some of us are more in the background, but we’re all essential and we’re all on the same team.
The first century church was a diverse group of people. It consisted of Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, masters and servants, old and young. The only common denominator was their faith in Jesus Christ. Yet that was enough to unify them. And the number of Christ-followers exploded because of that sense of unity or team.
Success comes as a result of teamwork. But the opposite is also true. You begin to fail when that sense of team breaks down or disappears. That’s why I think the next thing Jesus might say to Sidney Crosby is this warning:
5. Conflict in the dressing room affects the whole team.
[Note to pastors: “Dressing Room” is the preferred term in hockey. In other sports, “locker room” or “clubhouse” may be more appropriate. If you are adapting this message to another sport, be sure to change this term in PowerPoint and in the notes.]
Every once in a while you’ll hear about a team that is imploding. And it’s not because of a lack of talent; in fact, some of the most talented teams in history have also become the most dysfunctional. You have egos that get in the way, you have personality conflicts that get out of control, you have bickering and backbiting and petty squabbles… and when those kinds of things start to appear and are allowed to progress, then you know that team is going nowhere. You know they will not have any success.
Same thing is true in churches. When gossiping and slandering and bickering and egos run amok in a church, that church is going nowhere. It’s not going to accomplish anything, it’s not going to be healthy, and it may even be on the way to self-destruction.
Paul knew the danger this kind of division could have in the Church. And the church that seemed that have the greatest problem with this kind of division was the church in the city of Corinth. Look at what Paul wrote to them…
1 Corinthians 11:17-18 (NLT)
For it sounds as if more harm than good is done when you meet together. First, I hear that there are divisions among you when you meet as a church, and to some extent I believe it.
They apparently didn’t get the message the first time, so Paul wrote another letter…
2 Corinthians 12:20 (NLT)
For I am afraid that when I come I won’t like what I find, and you won’t like my response. I am afraid that I will find quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly behavior.
And it wasn’t only Paul. James also say the danger of division. So he wrote…
James 4:1 (NLT)
What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?
The Church is healthiest and most effective when it is unified. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t disagreements or differences of opinion, but it does mean that despite the differences there’s a unity. It means you work out those differences with compassion and sensitivity and respect.
6. A healthy team is a focused team.
When do teams run into problems? When they lose their focus. When they take their eyes off of their goal and start looking to other things. The goal of a team is to win, isn’t it? This is a lesson Crosby could learn from Gretzky. When Wayne Gretzky was the general manager for Team Canada at the Olympics, he talked about how the team had only one goal…
“Every time you put on a Canadian uniform and play for Team Canada, anything but gold is not acceptable.”
~ Wayne Gretzky
A hockey team is meant to have the goal of winning. But when the focus shifts from that to racking up individual statistics, or who gets the most accolades, or who gets the best seat on the airplane, or who has the biggest contract, or who plays on the first line, or any number of other things… it’s then that the team runs into problems.
So when do churches run into problems? When they take their eyes off of their goal. And what’s our goal? What’s our purpose? Why do we exist?
The mission statement for every church is found in the words of Jesus in Matthew 28…
Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT)
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.”
However different churches may phrase it, that’s what it comes down to. That’s why the church exists. That’s why Sunrise exists.
We exist to reach people wherever they are on this continuum… whether they are far from God or actively seeking Him or already convinced… and help them grow and progress into fully devoted followers of Jesus.
That’s what Sunrise is really about. The things that can separate us deal mainly with personal preferences and styles of ministry and individual wants and expectations. But what unifies us is an uncompromising focus on this mission that Jesus has given us… to reach people at whatever point they’re at in life and help them become fully devoted followers of Jesus.
Copyright © 2011 Greg Hanson