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Devotional - Running Up The Score

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes engages coaches and athletes to grow in their faith and sport.

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Devotional - Running Up The Score

We're happy to be able to share another great "Life's Equipment Bag" devotional from John Strappazon. John is a former college chaplain and ministries specialist who now writes to impact men and women through his ministry, Trajectory.

Life's Equipment Bag


If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?

Vince Lombardi, Hall of Fame coach, Green Bay Packers

One of the worst things a coach can be accused of is running up the score. With so many high-powered offenses today, that can be tough to avoid. But running up the score isn’t as recent a phenomenon as one might think. In 1970 Lou Holtz accused Bobby Bowden of running up the score after Bowden’s West Virginia Mountaineers crushed Holtz’s William and Mary squad 43-7. Perturbed that Bowden left his starters in until late in the game, Holtz confronted Bowden, a close friend, about his actions. Bowden replied, “It’s your job to keep the score down, not mine. If you don’t like the score, either recruit harder or coach better.” Bowden’s comment was harder for Holtz to swallow than the loss because, Holtz later said, he knew he was right.

Nonetheless, running up the score - continuing to score even when the outcome is not in doubt - is considered by most to be poor sportsmanship. Good sportsmanship, on the other hand, calls for a letting off of the gas so as to not embarrass the opposition.

While running up the score on the football field is discouraged, scoring early and often is encouraged when you’re playing for the Coach on the field of life. Unlike the football field, where scoring is a result of taking advantage of others or exploiting their weaknesses, scoring on life’s field is determined by what we do for others. Coach Jesus trains His players to

Do to others as you would like them to do to you. Luke 6:31(NLT)

Scoring on the field of life is the opposite of how most of us have been coached. The phrase “do unto others before they do unto you” has no place on the field of life for Jesus’ players. Our outcome on the field of life is determined not by how many points we can score for ourselves, but by how serious we are about lighting up the scoreboard for others.

Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back. Luke 6:38 (NLT)

We cross the goal line, split the uprights when we choose to make other players successful. Life game rules affirm this in Proverbs 11:24-25 (NLT) where it says,

Give freely and become more wealthy; be stingy and lose everything. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

Getting in position to score begins with a willingness to take the focus off ourselves, our hopes, and desires and putting it square on the numbers of our teammates. It continues by asking our self, what can I do to make them successful? Where can I open a hole for them? When can I carry the ball for them?

Although most scoring is public, some of it is best done secretly. When it’s done in private awkwardness is avoided, pride is kept in check, and the Coach and team receive the cheers.

But remember this—if you give little, you will get little. A farmer who plants just a few seeds will get only a small crop, but if he plants much, he will reap much. 2 Corinthians 9:6 (TLB)

Running up the score on the behalf of others is the way to win in the game of life. Go ahead run up the score! When you do everybody wins!

Coach Strap