This Year I’ll Play Without My Helmet

As the summer turns, American football is not the only endeavor that kicks off its season. Ministry activity explodes in the fall. Whether to serve the homeless, care for families at our church or love children by collecting shoeboxes, leaders are preparing themselves and volunteers to enter the playing field.

American football kicks off. It’s not just an expression; it literally kicks off. A kicker boots the ball into the air toward the opposing team. Have you ever noticed how American football announcers make a big deal when a kicker makes a tackle?

There’s a reason for that. Having completed his most important function, the kicker now must run (cautiously jog) down the field and fend for his life praying desperately that someone else will tackle the ball carrier long before he is blindsided by a 250 lb reserve linebacker or before he is forced to embarrass himself (usually on national TV) by attempting to hurl his body in the direction of a fast-moving train. It’s ironic that scrawny kickers are the last hope to tackle the man that is often the fastest on the field and they are tasked with doing that just when the ball carrier, usually a state champion sprinter, has reached maximum speed.

For a second imagine with me that you are the kicker. Imagine you have booted the ball and now are moving down the field toward the opposing team. The crowd noise has drowned out all sound except for your heartbeat. Your eyes dart from right to left as enormous members of the opposing team get bigger and angrier as they near you. You ready yourself for a collision and hope you will survive.

Now I want you to imagine the same scenario, only this time imagine that you forgot to put on your helmet. No, worse yet you made a conscious decision, Today I think I will play without my helmet. In fact I will play without any protective gear at all. Hmm….

In Ephesians 6:10 Paul instructs, “for our struggle is not against flesh and blood [i.e. humans] but against the rulers, against the powers against the world forces of this darkness, gainst eh spiritual forces of wickedness… (nasb)

Imagine a hockey goalie, a construction worker, or a soldier forgetting their protective gear or saying they chose not to put it on because they were too busy. What would you think of them? Crazy, right? Couldn’t happen, right? You want to hear something crazier? Christian leaders and volunteers entering a season of increased ministry activity without their protective gear, their armor.

We often call arenas, “playing” fields. The contest Paul describes in Ephesians 6, has no “play” in it. It is a full on war. You and your volunteers may think “Oh, another season of ministry activity”. Your opponent however, like a person that has downed 10 bottles of five hour energy drink, is engaged and extremely focused on winning a full scale thermonuclear spiritual war. Your opponents would make 300 pound angry linemen appear scrawny. Your opponents want far more than your head, they want your soul. And while sports opponents can only damage you on the playing field, your enemy can focus his rage on your family and friends, your marriage.

Paul continues, “Therefore, take up the whole armor of God so that you will be able to resist in the evil day… and stand firm.” As you lead your volunteers onto the battle field be a good leader, show them how desperately you and they need God’s nearness; how you and how they desperately need His protection now more than ever. Show them by putting on your clothes, your armor of faith, prayer, Bible study, a readiness to share the gospel, a heart for righteous acts and a love for truth. No good soldier forgets his gun, no goalie forgets his mask, no good construction worker forgets her helmet. Spending more focused time with Him is not just a nice little notion, it is mandatory preparation… especially for us scrawny kickers.

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