The game just seemed to come easily to him. He was the most athletically gifted guy on nearly every court he stepped on in high school. But he was a maddening guy to have on your team.
I was actually a decently competitive basketball player in high school. Not a star by any means, but someone who could hold my own versus good competition. The reason for this is not genetics (sorry, Mom & Dad!). I always claimed that I may have been short, but I made up for it by being extremely slow. My vertical leap was less than stellar.
Anything I accomplished I fought, scratched & clawed for. I worked my tail off. I ran extra, shot after practice and lifted more weights.
I got by on the sheer force of my will. I never gave up.
Not Jake (not his real name, by the way). He rarely practiced hard. I don’t ever remember him lifting weights. He would show up in the fall after a summer on the couch ripped and ready to dominate. It just came naturally to him.
This really ticked me off. Because Jake never really seemed to care.
He could have had his college payed for. Could have earned a scholarship to a decent school and earned his degree. But he didn’t care enough to try. Maybe it was too easy for him. Maybe he never felt the need to earn it. Maybe he thought it would be handed to him.
But no matter how much I encouraged him, no matter how many rah-rah messages I sent his way, no matter the example I tried to set in practice – Jake didn’t care. So although Jake was a great guy to hang around, he was the teammate I resented.
I eventually gave up trying to influence Jake. Because I couldn’t care enough for the both of us. I wrote him off. And I’m not proud of that.
I never gave up on myself. But I gave up on him.
This same feeling creeps up on me whenever I teach or speak. I feel it in my job working with the teenagers in my youth group. I want them to see Jesus. I want them to know if they would just give it a shot – to actually put the words of Jesus into action – that they could experience an amazing life. I want their eyes to open to the beauty of God.
Instead I see the faces of people who obviously aren’t that into it. Many of them don’t care as much as I do. They aren’t convinced that Jesus is the center of life.
So I doubt myself and my ability as a minister. I wonder if I’m doing any good at all.
Maybe you know the feeling. That person in your family. Or at work. Or in your school. They just don’t appear to get it. And they don’t seem to listen. You wonder if they’re really even trying at all.
To this I say: Don’t give up.
You wouldn’t give up on yourself. Don’t give up on anyone else.
Keep grinding. Keep speaking the truth. Keep listening. Keep giving second chances. Keep on living as an example of someone defined by grace. Keep loving them exactly where they are.
I won’t give up on myself. And I won’t give up on you. Let’s never give up on anyone.
Because Jesus never gives up on any of us.