“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:10
April showers may bring May’s flowers, but for a true football fan, this time of year is by far one of the most exciting. On the surface, this may seem a bit confusing. The last professional football game was played nearly three months ago and the next meaningful game kicks off in about four months from now. College programs are playing their spring “games” but inter-squad practices don’t do much for most people except expose flaws and risk injury. So what’s the big deal? It’s draft time.
The NFL will be holding its annual draft in a few days. This three-day event brings all 32 teams together in search of talent that will put the great teams back on top or help the lousy teams return back to glory. Months of research, interviews, workouts, and strategizing come into play as teams and players exchange millions of dollars to help each other realize their championship dreams. Analysts have been tracking this for months. Mock drafts have been released and re-released since the season ended, all projecting who would pick whom. What holes would teams fill? How would a player’s 40 yard dash time hurt his draft stock? It goes on and on. Big name athletes flock to New York City to be a part of the media hype: wearing their expensive suits with the hat and jersey of their new team. It’s a spectacle for some, but for others, the draft has a very different feel.
The draft consists of seven rounds. By the end of the second or third round, most of the big name players have been picked, leaving teams looking for the “diamond in the rough.” Some great players have emerged from the later rounds, but for the most part these unknowns are the players who fill the gaps and support their teams in many unremarkable ways. They are longshots, but they usually don’t mind the title: they’re just glad they were drafted. In fact, the very last player selected is recognized for his infamous honor by being named “Mr. Irrelevant.” In the big picture, this still talented player has little to no chance of being a major contributor. He actually gets more acclaim for being chosen last. In fact, Mr. Irrelevant gets to commemorate his selection in Newport Beach, CA during “Irrelevant Week.” Wikipedia describes the event:
“During the summer after the draft, the new Mr. Irrelevant and his family are invited to spend a week in Newport Beach, California, where they enjoy a golf tournament, a regatta, a roast, giving advice to the new draftee, and a ceremony awarding him the Lowsman Trophy. The trophy mimics the Heisman, but depicts a player fumbling a football.”
I have no doubt that the recipients of the Mr. Irrelevant title have a good sense of humor about it. After all, they did get drafted while hundreds of other hopefuls were overlooked. Also, they have too much work to do to prove they belong on the roster come training camp to worry about being called irrelevant. The name is true but at the same time false. Unfortunately, too many people receive and carry this moniker in their daily lives where the ramifications are far greater. Leadership training will tell you time and time again that it is important to make members of your team feel important. People want to feel as though they are contributing to something greater than themselves. This is true in our work environment, but it also holds true in our marital relationships, our families, our social circles, and many other areas of our lives. We don’t like being the “third wheel” or the “outsider.” We bristle when our ideas are repeatedly ignored or criticized. We strive to be strong and secure, to possess insight and to have something valuable to offer others. It fills us with a sense of accomplishment, strokes our ego, and fills us with the confidence we need to climb another mountain. But turn the table to a series of defeats and watch how that confidence can erode.
Satan understands this simple concept and uses it in many various ways. Simple tasks grow arduous. Others make decisions that impact you and leave you lost and stinging. Nothing ever comes easy or seems to go right. If you let them, these things can weigh heavily upon your spirit, leading to poor choices made out of desperation or despair. It’s a tiny crack in the armor, but sometimes that’s all the enemy needs to gain a foothold.
Times of struggle will happen – we are all assured that we will experience these moments in ways that are tailor made by Satan to impact us the most. These moments double as opportunities to try out that faith we have built up in Christ over the course of our lives. His power far exceeds any temptation or loss we will ever face. It makes sense for us to turn to Him, after all He too met Satan face to face and was able to overcome his lies. We need only to put our trust in Him. By His wounds we are healed. By His strength, we are uplifted. By His love, we know love eternal. Join the team – after all, He’s already chosen you.