Confidence: The NHL Combine and Sharing your FaithMay 26, 2014
by Rob Globke
"And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict." -- Luke 21:13-15
Every year a few weeks before the NHL draft takes place, around one hundred of the hockey’s best young stars go through the rigors of the NHL combine. During the long weekend, they will be tested mentally and physically. They will be prodded, looked over, analyzed. They will be asked tough questions and weird ones too. This is a big weekend for many of these guys. One which has a lasting impact on their future draft status and potentially their careers.
The Combine and the pressure
To say that many, if not most, of these young stars are a bit nervous would be an understatement! Imagine walking into a room full NHL front office personnel as a 16-17 year old kid. It's just you surrounded by a group of adults who will later be deciding where you "slot" on their draft board. Now imagine these group of scouts and personnel start grilling you on your lack of consistency. Question you on specific plays you made. Ask you what kind of player you think you are. And, make you go through what seem like random pointless psycho analytical tests. All without any backup. No agent at your side. No teammates. No parents. Just you left to fend for yourself.
This is Intense!
This is nerve wracking. Believe me, I've been there. You want the definition of a cold sweat....just take a picture of a future draftee 3 minutes into a combine interview. You probably won’t find that in Webster’s, but it should be.
The Combine of life at the rink
All of this to say, that the combine experience reminds me of what it can be like to be a witness of Jesus Christ at the rink. The locker room can be a hostile place. A place where you are grilled and prodded because your faith and about your faith. It's not always an easy place to “shine your light”. The stands might be even tougher. The stares and judgement from other parents. The feeling like you don’t belong or are not part of the club. Many times, these are real challenges for the Christian in hockey.
In these situations, words don't seem to come as easily when asked questions. You aren't quite sure what to say. You want to be a part of the team and get along with everyone, but you are worried you just might say the wrong thing. It is very much like the combine. It can be a pressure cooker!
Jesus is the Answer
BUT, Jesus tells us there is no need to worry. In Luke 21, Jesus explains to his disciples they will be his witnesses. They will share about who he is to governors, princes, prisoners, and kings. They will be on the hot seat whether they want to be or not. Yet, in verses 14-15, Jesus reminds his disciples that even though they will be on the hot seat, they will not have to worry about what they are to say. Jesus himself will give them the words in every circumstance.
Isn't this awesome? It is such an encouragement as we enter into the rink, the locker room, our teammate’s house, or any other hostile environment. God will give us the wisdom to say the right thing. This takes all the pressure off of us. It's not about us or what we do. It's about God working in and through us. This is a much lighter burden to bear. One that gives us hope at the rink.
I hope this encourages you as you prepare for life at the arena. Don't worry, God will always give you what you need….even if you don’t quite realize it yet.