Anyone who has been in my office is aware that I am a big Auburn fan. If you have not been in my office, you may have noticed the Auburn tag on the front of my truck.
Now, I know that having served in Georgia all these years, I should be a Georgia fan, and I am. I get very excited about pulling for Georgia when they aren’t playing Auburn. “So how did I become an Auburn fan?” I’m glad you asked.
When my Dad was pastor in Jacksonville, Florida, he accepted a call to become pastor of First Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. As a young R.A., our Royal Ambassador group would often go to Auburn to help the Boy Scouts usher for football games at Jordan-Hare Stadium. As a ten-year-old boy I became an avid Auburn fan and never got over it. Besides, anyone who has lived in Alabama understands that it is required that you declare your fan status for either Auburn or Alabama!
You can only imagine the fun I have pulling into a Georgia church yard on Sunday morning with that Auburn plate on the front of my truck, especially after the Georgia/Auburn game. On one occasion, George Barnett found a newspaper and covered up the tag while we were eating at a restaurant after a meeting. Several of us were together and no one would fess up to having done the deed, but when I looked at George, an avid Alabama fan, it was written all over his face.
All of that being said, I have to say that it seems to me Auburn should be declared the National Championship Team.
You have to admit that it is perfectly logical. After all, Auburn beat both teams that will be playing in the Championship Game next Monday night here in Atlanta. Furthermore, the victories over Alabama and Georgia were not insignificant. Auburn won both games with convincing scores (Georgia 40-17 and Alabama 26-14), and both teams were #1 in the country when Auburn beat them.
“Ah, yes,” you say, “but what about the SEC Championship game when Georgia whipped Auburn 28-7?”
I’ll admit, Georgia looked pretty good in that game, but Auburn was riddled with injuries including Kerryon Johnson, Auburn’s leading runner.
“And what about Auburn’s defeat by a touchdown at the hands of UCF?”
“Ouch!” Please don’t bring that up. At least remember that the University of Central Florida remains the only undefeated team. It would not have been very nice to spoil their perfect season right here at the end. I think it was a generous act of kindness for Auburn to step back and allow UCF to win.
Alas, sometimes things just don’t come out the way you might prefer, so you do the best thing possible, you adjust. With kind deference to my friends who are huge Alabama fans, I am going to be the most enthusiastic Georgia fan on Monday night you ever saw. I can do that honestly, because I have cheered them all along their stellar season, except for two games.
There are some parallel lessons to be learned.
Even when you are the pastor of the church, things don’t always go the way you would prefer. What is the best response? You can get angry, but that lacks spiritual maturity. You can brood over it until it destroys your spirit, but that is self-defeating. You can hurt the feelings of those who offended you, but that creates walls that make ministry almost impossible.
The best response is to adjust. By adjusting your attitude and pulling for those who perhaps wanted to defeat you, victory may very well come from a direction you did not initially expect. God has great plans for your life and for your ministry, don’t allow petty things to steal the joy of your ministry and damage your influence among those you have been called to serve. Cheering for the team that defeated you shows good sportsmanship and leads to personal growth and enriched friendships.