When it came to sports, I was always Mr. Average. I’ve ridden plenty of pine in my day. I remember one particular basketball game where no matter who the coach pulled from the bench, we weren’t going to win. As the clock ticked down to less than one minute, I remember thinking, whatever happens, please don’t send me in now.
Then it happened. It was as if life shifted into slow motion as the coach looked down the bench and yelled, “Sanders! Sanders you’re in the game.” No not now, I thought! Wow, a whole 40 seconds to turn the game around. Why doesn’t he just send me to the locker room for towels or something?
It was all I could do to pry myself from the bench and step onto the hardwood. In a matter of seconds, I went from being a comfortable spectator to being the center of attention at the half-court line.
We were on offense. The ball was passed to me. Although no one was near me, I panicked. I bobbled the ball. I dribbled three steps and then stumbled over my feet. Like a punter for a football team, I kicked the basketball to the other end of the court. The ball fell into the hands of our opponent. Before I knew it, the buzzer sounded and the game was over.
How embarrassing. Who cares about lettering, just let me out of here! I ran off the court and down the stairs to the locker room. As I did, I hit my head on a water pipe. What a klutz. Mine was a perfect ending to a horrible game. The locker room was full of laughter as my teammates began to reenact the fiasco. What was the coach thinking? Why did he pick me?
I didn’t know then, but I think I know now. My coach believed in me. He may not have seen potential in the player, but he did recognize potential in the person. A few weeks later as the two of us were leaving practice, coach put his arm around my shoulder and said, “You stay after it Sanders, and you are going to be something someday.”
I will never forget that day. It was a turning point in my life. He saw something in me that I never knew existed. He gave me the gift of confidence and self-esteem. I may not be the best at anything, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do my best and still make a difference. The message got through. Life takes more than talent.
How about you? Do you ever feel like Mr. Average? Do you ever feel washed up and of no use? Have you embarrassed the coach and the team? God hears it all the time. I’m too old. I’m too young. I’m not good enough. I’m just an average guy. Guess what? The Bible is full of Mr. Averages, used by God in incredible ways. You are just the kind of person God wants on his team.