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  • by Rob Globke

    Hockey is a team game. Of course, there are times when you probably wish that you didn’t have to be a part of a team. Maybe you had a bad day and all you want to do is take some time to be by yourself. Perhaps you face a roomful of peers who make fun of you and treat you poorly. Possibly you think you would be better off without a few of your comrades you feel are bringing the team down. Whatever it is, there is going to be times and situations where being on a team is difficult. Yet, there is no getting around it. Hockey will always be a game played with others. A game that forces different people from different places to come together as one.

    So, my questions for today are…..

    How can we be better teammates? As Christians, how can we show the world what a teammate should look like? What are some ways to be a light in what might be a dark place?

    There are undoubtedly countless lessons we can learn on being a good teammate, but we are going to look at the book of Proverbs to find four principles we can use to help us be better teammates for the start of next season.

    Principle #1 = Gentleness

    Proverbs 15:1

    A gentle answer deflects anger,
      but harsh words make tempers flare.

    One of the most common attributes associated with hockey players is one of toughness. Stories of being tough permeate hockey history. Players playing on broken legs. Guys returning to action after getting sewn back together. Teammates jumping in to make a statement after a questionable hit. Defensemen diving head first to block a frozen rubber puck. These are all examples of toughness on display in the game of hockey. (Although, some might argue this borders the line which crosses into crazy, but that’s another post!!)

    However, over time the definition of toughness has lost it’s way. Slowly we have seen that being tough is defined by being a “winner” vs. being a “loser”. Being tough has turned into picking fights because you want to prove a point. Being tough has morphed from grinding in the corner to trying to put someone in the hospital with a flying elbow.

    So, it’s easy to look at Proverbs 15:1 and think, “this is not a very good verse for hockey players. I don’t want to be the ‘soft’ guy on the team. I want my buddies to see how big and bad I really am.” Talk in the dressing room and on the ice soon becomes a way for you to tell the world… “DON’T MESS WITH ME!”

    Yet, this is not who you are called to be. You are called to be like Christ. The One who endured the cross (and the mockery, insults, laughter, and everything else) for our good. Christ could have proved how tough he was by stepping off the cross and dusting off his knuckles. But, he showed the world what true toughness looks like by humbling himself in gentleness.

    This should be your response as a teammate. Meet hostility and anger with peace and gentleness. You don’t have to prove a point. You don’t have to stir the pot. You don’t have to pick fights verbally or otherwise. You can choose to be gentle….in the best sense of the word….because this kind of gentleness is actually being tough in disguise.

    Principle #2 = Love

    Proverbs 17:17

    A friend loves at all times,
     and a brother is born for adversity.

    I will keep this section shorter than the first and start by posing a question….

    Do you love your teammates?

    No, I’m not talking about the guys on the team you get along with. I’m not talking about the guys on the team that treat you well. I’m asking if you love ALL your teammates. Romans 5:8 states, “Christ shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus didn’t stay up in heaven waiting for us to get on his good side. Jesus Christ came to die for us while we were his enemies. This is convicting.

    There will be some teammates who we love easily. There will be some teammates who are hard to love. You are to love them the same….as Christ has loved you (John 13:34). This is being a good teammate. So, think of ways you can show love to your teammates in the upcoming season.

    • How can you show your team you care for them?
    • In what ways can you tangibly show love to those you find it hard?
    • How will showing love to others make your team better prepared for adversity?

    These are questions worth asking. I hope you take the time to think about them and put them into practice as you seek to love your team this season.

    Principle #3 = Encouragement

    Proverbs 27:17

    As iron sharpens iron,
      so a friend sharpens a friend.

    How sad is the thought that even though we play a TEAM sport, there are people who feel so very alone. Maybe you have been the one in this spot, surrounded by a dressing room full of people, but never being a part of the group. Maybe you know of a teammate who came to the rink every week that thought nobody cared or noticed. Or maybe, you have to take a moment and imagine you are the one being left out, not included, and pushed to the side. Not a good thought, is it?

    So, what is the antidote?

    I believe a strong cure for those frustrated by being left out and discouraged is encouragement. As teammates representing Christ, we should be the first ones seeking to sharpen those around us. The book of Ephesians reminds us that we should be building each other up. (4:29) When was the last time you told a teammate they had a great game, an awesome shift, or nice pass? How often do you thank a teammate for being a part of the team? Who do you hope to sit by each time you step in the locker room?

    Be someone who encourages your teammates. Build them up. And not just the ones you like to talk to. Take the time throughout the season to say something worth saying to each of your teammates. Make your teammates a part of the team by taking the lead in including them in everything. This is how you sharpen one another.

    Principle #4 = Honesty

    Proverbs 27:5-6

    Better is open rebuke Than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

    Lastly for this blog post, a true teammate is one who is honest with those around him. This is probably the toughest one of the bunch! Let’s use an example to try and see what I mean by being honest…

    Suppose you have a teammate who keeps doing something that doesn’t line up with how the team should normally operate. Maybe he is picking on others in the dressing room. Maybe he keeps on doing what he wants on the ice regardless of the team system. Maybe he is spreading false rumors behind the team’s back. Whatever it is, he is doing something that is not for the good of the team or himself.

    Would it be more loving or less loving to tell this teammate the truth about his actions and their effect on the team?

    My vote is that it would be less loving if you are not HONEST with your teammate. If you think to yourself, “I’m not even going to bother with him...it’s useless,” in a way you are showing that you really don’t care about this person. You are more content to let them continue in ways that are destructive for both them and the team. Honesty with your teammates may be difficult, but it demonstrates a heart that see them as worth fighting for. The wounds of a friend are faithful as the Proverb states above.

    Of course, if  you practice this principle of honesty apart from the other three principles of gentleness, love, and encouragement it might not be the best way to go about it. Ephesians 4:15 is a good reminder for us as we close for today:

    “Speak the truth in love, in order to grow to become fully mature like Christ.” (paraphrase is mine)

    I think this is a good goal for all of us this year! Speak the truth to your team, but do it with love.

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