Posted by: Mike Willoughby | January 11, 2011

Well Equipped

Football season is drawing to a close and once again I face the prospect of weekends without the excitement and pageantry of football.  Bummer! 

Over the past couple of seasons, I have been impressed with the increase in the quantity and quality of special equipment used in the game at all levels.  For some time we have witnessed the use in professional and college football of sticky receiving gloves, face mask visors, highly-specialized footwear and various types of non-standard pads and flak jackets.  Now most Thursday and Friday nights, you can see this same equipment on the high school gridiron. 

I’m absolutely in favor of the use of advanced technology in all levels of the game to improve safety for the players.  However many of these pieces of equipment are meant for performance enhancement and not safety.  I imagine the sticky gloves give the hyper-talented pro or college receiver a real edge when fractions of an inch and fingertips determine the difference between a circus catch and an incompletion.  I do wonder how much difference all this technology makes for the average high school player.  I think the outcome on the field has much more to do with God-given talent, intense preparation, thorough conditioning and repetition during practice than any high-tech equipment.  In fact I’ll bet that if two high school varsity teams chucked all the visors, gloves, arm bands and other extraneous non safety related stuff, they would be just as competitive against each other and the most talented, best prepared, most highly conditioned team would likely win the contest.  I think it’s possible for these young players that the high-tech stuff gives them a false sense of competence and actually gets in the way of the old-school equipping provided by the coaches.

I also wonder if there isn’t a valid analogy here for the faithful.  The other day, I was wandering through my favorite Christian bookstore and I was struck by the number of books that are available for what you might call spiritual self-help.  There were books on being better parents, improving your marriage, bettering your financial condition, being a better steward of the environment and being the best man, women, boy or girl you can be.  I’ll bet there were more of these type books than there were Bibles and books on how to study the Bible.  I’m not saying there is a thing wrong with these practical spiritual self-help books.  I have a bunch of them on my bookshelf.  I do wonder though how many Christians reach for this specialized equipment rather than first relying on basic equipment God has provided directly to each of us.  Please read one of my favorite passages in the Bible from II Peter 1:3-11:

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.  For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.  Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I know that studying the Bible and practicing the spiritual disciplines may seem old-school compared to attending seminars, workshops, conventions and reading the latest best-selling spiritual book.  However, I think it’s possible (especially for new Christians) that the high-tech spiritual stuff gives them a false sense of spiritual competence and actually gets in the way of the old-school equipping provided by the God Himself through the Word and the Spirit.  I think when we realize we have been gifted by the Spirit of God, when we prepare ourselves through study of the Word and when we condition ourselves through the exercise of spiritual discipline, we will be best prepared for the winning the game of life and claiming the prize.  

In life as with football, we tend to play the game like we practice the game.  Peter tells me that if I supplement my faith through the practice of these qualities of virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love, I will never fail.  Worth thinking about!

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!

Previous Intersections Articles

Snowflakes and DNA (Part 2) Snowflakes and DNA (Part 1) Safe and Secure


  1. Excellent thoughts, Mike! There is enough in II Peter 1:3-11 alone to keep us challenged, chastened, and motivated to mature in our Christian faith for the rest of our lives. I, too, am grateful for the good that is accomplished and for the potential benefits of the seemingly endless supply of extraneous spiritual materials and resources available to Christians today. But, I share your concern that these can easily become the “staples” of one’s spiritual diet rather than additional “supplements” to one’s regular feeding upon the milk and the meat of the Word of God. “Supplements” without “substance” will leave us dangerously malnourished and spiritually weak.

  2. all I can say is I completely agree I read a daily journal from Dobson but some of the things he elaborates on bother me the scriptures are always the best source there is an entire huge table of these books in Barnes and Noble all with a way to help the inner man etc and we have one book that is all we need keep up the good work look forward to your thoughts

  3. It is definitely worth thinking about Mike and the analogy with the football equipment is great. I think sometimes we as people can get swept up in a fast-moving high-tech culture but it’s the foundations of our humanity such as virtue, knowledge, and love which really make us who we are. The settings around us can change rapidly and we may have little to no control over them but if we stay true to ourselves we will not fall 🙂

  4. Mike,

    I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed speaking with you last week. I appreciate all your insight and advice to help my children and me in life’s adventures. All of us would be better off practicing those qualities daily – knowledge, self -control, steadfastness, godliness and brotherly love. Daily practice will make me stronger for the battles we all face in our lives

    Please keep writing – we look forward to reading your message and helping me to become a better soldier in this life.

    • Thanks, Chaplain Jerry!

      I removed the personal question you asked out of your comment and sent you an email with the answer. May God continue to bless you in your quest to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the lives of your family and friends.


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