If you are going to be successful at playing quarterback in football, you need to be athletic. (hang in there with me because this quarterback introduction is not my pain point, but this is about FAITH). You’ll have opponents who are big, and fast, and their ambition is to pounce on you. So you need to be alert to this present danger and you need to be light on your feet. In addition, you need to have the arm strength and coordination to accurately pass the ball.
However, what often gets unnoticed is the mental part of the game. It’s truly what separates the good from the great. Quarterbacks must understand their own offenses, as well as understanding the complicated and numerous defensive strategies of their opponents. The quarterbacks also must be mentally alert to occasionally adjust their own play as the play is about to begin and make a change (calling an audible) because of something they see the defense doing. On top of all the pressure of preparing for the correct play, a quarterback needs to be attentive and agile enough to execute the play.
The quarterback must decide in milliseconds if the original play as it was designed is a good one, or if they should go to the back up play, or even a third option (this process for a quarterback is called going through his “progression”).
As I’ve written about before, when it comes to having a discussion about this aspect of the mental game in football, few quarterbacks come to mind as quickly as Peyton Manning. With that said, I found this excerpt from an article from Chris Brown, an interesting one:
It’s no secret Peyton Manning works pretty hard. In April, he and his brother Eli, along with their top pass-catching targets, spent time on Duke’s campus with Blue Devils head coach David Cutcliffe, who coached Peyton and Eli in college. At this stage, both brothers have seen their share of football — 2013 will be Eli’s 10th season in the league — but in traveling to Durham, Peyton wanted to go back to the beginning. He asked Cutcliffe for a return to the basics, to “coach us like we were both freshmen at Tennessee or Ole Miss.”
When Cutcliffe trains a young quarterback, he begins with his most valuable asset: his mind. “I do not talk about passing routes with them for one month,” Cutcliffe said at a coaches clinic in 2011. “All we do is teach them defense for a month. We teach them the history of defense. We teach them the history of the zone blitz. We teach them what it is, and what is happening in the defense. Once the quarterback learns coverages, it enables them to move on in the teaching progression.”
So, with that introduction in place to set up my point, I think, as Christians, we too need to mentally be much better at “quarterbacking” as it relates to our faith (at least, I know, I need to be). What I mean is that it’s not enough to be doing all the correct activities of our faith: reading the Bible, praying, going to church, being involved in a ministry (as important as all those activities are), but we need to be thoughtful about working our “progressions” throughout each and every day, in all that we do.
Mentally, we need to be asking our self:
- is the activity I’m going to be involved in (and my attitudes/motives) something that is really a self-centered activity (of my flesh), or is it a God-honoring activity? (Romans 8:5, Galatians 5)
- we also need to be aware that we can be involved in a Godly activity, but exempting God from it. In other words, we can be involved with the “good activity”, but going through the motions in it, checking it off our spiritual to-do list. We can also perform the godly spiritual activity, but feeling confident enough in ourselves that its like we suggest to God that He can sit this one out because we can handle it from here. For example, I have been guilty of this in the past where I have been leading a Bible study without really praying and asking for God’s help in leading it. Even during the study, I found myself confidently relying on my own knowledge, passing along my best words of advice, as opposed to depending on God and relying on what the Bible says (Romans 7, 2 Cor. 13:8)
- What we want to be striving for all the time is executing godly behaviors and depending on His Spirit throughout the whole process. We want to be those who put no confidence in the flesh. (John 15, Phil. 3:3)
So, how thoughtful are you in the way you live out your faith?
How often do you pause to allow God to search your heart as to why you doing what you are doing ?