Monday Night Football featured the “Revenge Game,” where Brett Favre, now wearing the purple of the Minnesota Vikings, “paid back” the Green Bay Packers for letting him go two years ago. It was a game driven by that major story line.
But that story line couldn’t have existed without coach Brad Childress extending to him the opportunity to come out of retirement. Actually he called Favre at the beginning of training camp and preseason to sign a deal and practice with the team. Favre declined. He later extended an invitation near the end of the preseason. So while all the 80 something players worked their tails off, Favre simply hung out in Mississippi doing whatever he pleased. Then all of a sudden, Favre became the starting QB.
Obviously Childress’ decision didn’t sit well with most of the team. At first. But now, at 4-0, it appears to be the right decision. Why? Because it worked. Because they are winning.
In football, and in most occupations, winning or making money is the bottom line.
As long as we win, any decision we make to win is deemed a right decision. In other words, if it works, then it is right. This is a philosophy called pragmatism, and I have to admit one in which I find quite attractive. After all, I’m super practical.
Now please don’t get me wrong. Winning is good. Churches growing numerically is good. Families in which kids listen to their parents is good.I don’t yet know what that is like with my crazy 16-month-old!
But should this be the model for our lives, families, and churches? Should the culturally approved appearance of success— winning, making money, numbers, or outward obedience— become our sole aim? If that is the case, then whatever decision or action we make to get there will be deemed right. So yelling at your kids might produce obedience, but it is obedience driven by fear. Failing to call others to repentance may allow you to gain more “friends,” but is your silence the right decision?
The apostle Paul, at times, explains that the morally right decision might make you lose or appear wrong (I Cor 6:7; I Cor 8:13). How crazy is that?
But another coach, Tony Dungy, always emphasized a similar thing: playing the game the right way. Decisions weren’t based solely on winning, that’s why he cut players with violent crimes, wouldn’t have allowed rapists on his team, and certainly wouldn’t have called Favre at the end of preseason.
Sometimes this way does produce wins: Dungy has the third highest winning percentage among all coaches. However, it is always good for pastors, parents, and leaders to remember that just because a decision “works,” doesn’t make it the right decision.
Geoff Henderson, associate pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church, 4455 30th St. E., Bradenton, can be reached at 727-3408 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday’s Herald, written by local clergy members.