This post is part of our Playing the Long Game series
The Tennessee Titans finished their season yesterday one game short of the Super Bowl, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game. Obviously, this was disappointing for everyone on the team and for those of us in Nashville who love following them. But after the game there was a sentiment of accomplishment from players and coaches alike as they talked to reporters. Why would they be so upbeat after falling short of their ultimate goal? Because three months ago the Titans were dead in the water.
One of their stars was suspended for the first 4 games. Their quarterback was playing the worst football of his career. And they started the season 2-4. How in the world does a team that started so poorly find itself a few plays away from the Super Bowl? They were playing the long game.
Sometimes you start a new group with all sorts of hope for the year and for whatever reason it is just a struggle at the beginning. Maybe this has never happened in your discipleship group but I know it has happened to me. The next several weeks our goal is to encourage you and provide some helpful ways to keep the long game in mind as you get your new discipleship group off the ground!
Hopefully, your group is so fruitful and fun that you just completely ignore this post every week, but for those of you that start off like the Titans we’re going to do our best to get you into the Super Bowl by the end of the year.
For starters, we can be encouraged by Jesus, right? If anyone every could have been frustrated with the people he was trying to mold into His image it would have been Jesus with his ragtag group of disciples. They consistently put their feet in their mouths (looking at you, Peter) and even at the end of Jesus’ life and ministry it was clear they still did not understand Jesus’ plan. But he never gave up on those guys and we have them to thank for the faith we possess today.
In an interview CBS showed before the game yesterday, Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel said he had one consistent message he preached to his team even when they didn’t start like they hoped. The temptation was to phone it in for the year and just coast through the rest of the season. But Vrabel’s message, and what would become the mantra for the team going into each practice, was “Are we going to get through or get better?”
If your discipleship group hasn’t been what you hoped these first few weeks you are at a moment of decision. Are you going to just get through each week and get through this year? Or are you going to keep pushing and get a little bit better each week? The Titans didn’t prepare all offseason for the first six games, they were playing the long game. Discipling others into the image of Jesus Christ is the ultimate long game.
Photo by Ben Hershey