“How do I handle seven blown calls for the glory of God?”
The sports minister brought this question up because they weren’t sure how to guide the coach who asked the question to the answers to this question. We talked through the situation and came up with what I think are some good guidelines.
Let’s set the situation to better understand the context of the question. The person writing the email had been to recent training for coaches that discussed doing all their coaching activity for God’s glory. This coach had responded very positively after the training and this question flowed out of our their genuine desire to apply what they had heard.
The coach was also genuinely frustrated. In a soccer game for children, the coach counted seven handballs that the teenage referee didn’t call. Not one, seven. With each call the frustration built.
Fortunately, in this situation the coach didn’t allow that frustration to boil over in expressed anger on the field toward the referee. Instead, he kept it inside and wrote the email shortly after with this penetrating question – “How do I handle seven blown calls for the glory of God?”
Some would say – “It is just a game. Let it go. After all, referees aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. Give the ref a break.”
Others might chime in – “But you are the coach and you need to stand up for your team.”
Before going further, let me point you to several good blogs that Tim Briggs has written for CSO on this:
What I want to add to this discussion is the importance of our cry for justice.
The desire to correct the bad calls comes from a cry for justice, a frustration with injustice. This is a good cry. It comes from being made in the image of God, a God of justice.
The issue is not the cry for justice. The issue is what do we do with that cry.
Any attempt to squelch this cry – such as “It’s just a game.” or “These refs are just imperfect people. Give them a break.” – is an attempt to squelch the image of God within us and should be resisted.
At the same time, any attempt to inappropriately take justice into our own hands – such as arguing with the referee (as Tim define’s it) – is a wrong or marred expression of that same God image.
What we need to do at that point is trust God for his satisfaction of this “injustice”. As a just God, he will one day bring justice to bear on all the injustice of this world. This day is the day the Psalmist looks forward to when he says “Then all the tress of the forest will sing for joy; they will sing before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his truth.” (Psalm 96:12,13)
He will overcome all corruption. He will right to all wrongs – even things like these seven blown calls.
For all eternity we will gaze up and bask in the reality of God’s justice and be satisfied.
Until then, when faced with such an “unjust” situation, we need to make God-honoring appeals to those in authority like referees, and then trust this God of justice for his current oversight in the situation and for his ultimate justice that will one day be done!
This posture of trust brings honor, it glorifies such a righteous and just God when we face things like these seven blown calls – and even things much greater.