>Football and President Obama have a lot in common as I think of our motto, e pluribus unum, “Out of Many, One.” There are lots of players on the field and staff to coach those who dare to step on the gridiron. As a republic of citizenry we know all too well the country doesn’t fare well unless we pull together. The historic election of President Obama has taken a team effort to battle racism and naysayers. Tomorrow’s inauguration is a celebration of who we are as much as it who Obama is, but back to football as my main analogy-engine.
Now we know that the Steelers and the Cardinals will play in two weeks in the Super Bowl. George Will says that “Football combines the two worst things about America: It is violence punctuated by committee meetings.” Yeah, right, but I still love football. It has great analogies for life, especially those committee meetings. If we would all huddle up more often and get our heads together, wouldn’t the world be a better place? It takes teamwork to play successful football. Individual stars and goats are part of the action, but it’s ultimately a team sport.
So is life. I first heard my friend and fellow SC UM pastor, Dr. Ted Walter, use this story. A mule named “Jim” was being driven by his owner. It was just the one mule “Jim” who was hitched up to the wagon, when the driver yelled “Giddyup, Jim. Giddyup, Sue. Giddyup, Sam. Giddyup, John. Giddyup, Joe. As the wagon started to move, one of the passengers said: “When Jim is the only one there, why did you call all those other names?” The owner replied: “If Jim knew he was the only one pulling this wagon, he’d never budge an inch.” It takes teamwork, even when it just God and us. That’s a pretty good team, by the way! What is the doctrine of the Holy Trinity but an affirmation of teamwork: One in Three and Three in One.
Life is better when we have relationships with others, work together, all pitch in, and accomplish things. In family life or any other communal atmosphere everything is a “we” thing. I like the Walt Disney Company attitude. If you work at Disney you’re not an employee, but a “cast member.” Each one of us is that important.
I had to decide how important it was last week for me to attend the meeting of the Southeastern Jurisdiction Committee on Episcopacy in Jackson, Mississippi. After all, a lot of our churchy meetings are usually same-old-same-old from start to finish. It was a long way to drive even at today’s lower gas prices to just “meet and greet” your fellow heads of delegations, but the only way to build camaraderie and fellowship that will get us through a quadrennium of supporting our jurisdiction, annual conferences, local churches, and bishops is to be present with each other. We covenanted to pray for each other and two of us were assigned as partners with bishops to pray and support one another. Lynn Powell from North Georgia and I were assigned Bishop Tim Whitaker from Florida. We want to do what it takes to develop real community.
Dr. Scott Peck of Road Less Traveled fame talks about building community by saying it happens though stages. The first stage is called “pseudo-community.” Pseudo-community is when you get together and there are hugs all around, chit-chat, hail-fellow-well-met surface falderal. It’s not real community, however, if it stays only on the surface. The next stage that does get at the hidden agendas and real needs is “chaos.” Chaos happens when we’re really honest with each other and get things out in the open. After chaos comes “emptiness,” a stage in real community building where people lay aside their own personal wishes for the larger good. The result is real community. Teamwork is a no-brainer for football, republics, presidents, and life!