Rodney’s Reflection: Winning

In the Tuesday Morning bible study group this week, we looked at Christian community and it’s centrality to the journey as Christians. In our book, “The Passion Play: Living the Story of Christ Last Days,” the author shared a couple of stories that impacted me deeply this week. I want to share two quick stories with you now. (The other is too long for this reflection but will probably end up in a sermon in the future.)

Brad Stevens (Former Butler University Basketball Coach) had his team run 17’s one day in practice. The team members assumed Coach Stevens wanted to know who could do the drill the fastest. When they were all done Coach Stevens received the results. As he stood before the panting players he threw the stats on the ground. “I don’t care how fast you can run 17’s. I did this exercise to see if any of you would encourage another player to improve his time. Only two of you did.”[1]

So many times in our society we compare ourselves to others and myself included are driven to the best, the fastest, and to win. But what does winning look like in true Christian community? Especially when following Jesus means being a servant leader, with encouragement, vulnerability, support, trust, love, mutuality, and trust are hallmarks of Christian community.

We continue this year long journey through COVID, I am grateful for the phone calls, notes, and text messages that I have received containing encouragement and tangible cheers even when I know decisions we have made haven’t been what some wanted or may of agreed with. 

Fred Rogers, in 2001 gave an address at Marquette University. In his speech, Fred recalled a moment from the 1976 special Olympics, when one of the participants  fell down while running in a sprint event. Several of the other competitors, stopped when they heard him cry out, and they went back picked him up and walked arm and arm across the finish line. Fred Rogers pointed out how the crowd kept cheering for a prolonged period of time. “‘Why?’ Rogers said because ‘deep down we know what matters in this life is much more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win, even when slowing down and changing our course now and then.’”[2]

One of the things I love about being a pastor is seeing and hearing the stories of authentic community that happens in our neighborhoods, homes, and our community. I love hearing this stories of individuals and families who embody a winning attitude that celebrates with others and see that winning personally isn’t what matters most. Instead helping others win and staying focused upon doing for others is who we are called to be.

How are you running the race in 2021? What does your journey look like? How are you running 17s and sprints with others?  Who is winning?


Rodney Whitfield
Senior Pastor

1.Rob Fuquay, The Passion Play: Living the Story of Christ’s Last Days, (Nashville, TN: Abington Press, 2019),  42. 
2.Fuquay, 43