Humility and sports are two words we don’t often hear used together. Athletes are known for broadcasting their success to the world and making their accomplishments shine in the spotlight. We see athletes like Johnny Manziel, LeBron James and Michael Phelps being excellent examples of a lack of humility and an abundance of boasting. There is a fine line between celebrating an athletic accomplishment and broadcasting it to the world and my friend Aaron has found a way to walk that line while remaining humble through it all.
Aaron is a resident assistant at Southeast Missouri State University and a talented athlete. Aaron grew up playing competitive flag football so after coming to college playing intramural flag football was a natural decision. The past two years as Aaron played he experienced success in nearly all his intramural sports and he seemed to want everyone to know it. In January of 2015 however, Aaron made a decision that changed his life and his attitude about his athletic talent began to change, too.
This fall Aaron is again a resident assistant for a floor of freshman men and sought to form a bond with them through something they found they have in common: football. The year started with casual games on the band field on sunny afternoons, but as they went on the team started to experience some success. The group decided to sign up for the competitive intramural flag football league through Southeast’s intramural sports program. As the season continued the East Squad, as their name officially became, went on to win the Intramural Competitive Men’s League Championship. What should have been the end of their season turned into an opportunity to play the championship team of the Men’s Greek Competitive League resulting in a final score of 25-0. East Squad wins.
The weekend of November 6 and 7 East Squad traveled to Rolla, Missouri to compete in the 2015 Miner Bowl where college flag football teams from across the state of Missouri compete. The weekend ended with a 27-12 victory over MIZZOU’s flag football team. Essentially East Squad became the best flag football team in the state of Missouri.
The team isn’t just good, it's great. When they win it isn’t by a few points, it's usually a very large gap but honestly it seems no one knows about their success. The team will make posts about their success, but it’s from a position of celebration not bragging. Word has been getting around about the team, but they aren’t the ones talking about their success. The team has remained humble throughout their season, taking each game as it comes and doing their best while playing to bring the Lord glory.
When it comes down to it, Aaron and his friends decided to start playing flag football with the men who ultimately made up the team as a way to show them the love of Christ. The decision Aaron made in January of 2015 was to surrender his life to Christ and from there he began to walk in humility following the Lord.
Aaron formed the team based on 1 Corinthians 9:22 which says, “To the weak, I have become weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” He said, “I took that verse this summer and applied it leading up to intramurals, because no matter the skill level of the guys on the floor, I was still going to make just a floor team in a way to grow our relationships and share the gospel with these guys. It's just been amazing to see God bless that decision and to see how much success we have had along the way.”
The lesson we can learn from watching the East Squad isn’t that God will always grant success to the humble. The lesson we can learn is a simple lesson given in scripture. “And whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”- Colossians 3:17
Honestly, Aaron and the men he is playing with do not care about winning as much as they care about bringing the Lord glory. If they lost every single game of the season but were still able to share the gospel, it would still be a win in their eyes. When your life is centered around the Lord momentary success and failure doesn’t matter as much anymore. When you talk to Aaron today he’ll talk about his flag football team if you bring it up, but he’s more likely to talk to you about Jesus. The dudes on his floor still love winning the game, but for several of them they are beginning to see for the first time that loving the Lord is better.
The team will be traveling to the University of Southern Mississippi to play in another tournament December 4 through the 6. We are all extremely excited to see how they perform, but whether they win or lose doesn’t matter that much. They are playing to bring God glory and share his love with men whose lives could be changed forever just like Aaron’s life was changed last January.
If you are a follower of Christ are you dedicating all aspects of your life to the Lord and his glory and trying to become all things to all people for the sake of saving some? If you are, well done my brother or sister. If you are not may this story challenge you to be more like Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:22.