I often look back at my four years in high school as “my glory days”, my poor wife has had to deal with me sharing stories of my experiences as a football player back in the day. But even though I did excel on the gridiron as a football player; there is another part to this story that I don’t like to remember or share with others. I might have been a good athlete and I might have enjoyed all of the pomp and circumstance that surrounded me as the starting Quarterback at Milton High School in Alpharetta, Georgia in 1994 and 1995. But I did not enjoy the sweaty palms, my racing heart and the butterflies in my stomach that were my Friday night enemies. The opening drive always made me nervous. I wanted our team to make a statement on the opening drive—to march straight down the field and score. I wanted to be “The Murph”, the Superman on the field. But, at times the fear seemed almost paralyzing.
In those moments, my high school head coach would always remind me to “turn it loose and play.” I found great encouragement in that statement to let go of my fear and nervousness and just play the game.
Now when I became a Head High School Football Coach, I noticed that had become even more anxious for my players, wanting them to capitalize on the opening drive, than when I played! That opening drive can set the stage for either a thrilling victory or a mistake-laden defeat. But I tried to encourage my players to “turn it loose and play,” just like my coach told me. I wanted them to play in the moment and not leave anything on the field—to not play scared or play afraid of making mistakes. Just turn it loose and play. As a Pastor, now, this is the leadership that I upload, I tell my congregation all the time, perhaps not in these exact words, but I do tell them to “turn it loose and play”.
As Christians we may experience sweaty palms, butterflies, and feelings of inadequacy when we’re called by the Lord to do His work. But our Coach, Jesus Christ, encourages us through His Word in Hebrews 12:1 to turn it loose (the things that hinder us) and play (serve Him).
I love coaches, there is a HUGE place in my heart for the men and women in our community who coach our children. Coaches do all they can do to coach their players up during the week and encourage them on Friday nights.
But as Christians, with the Lord, we have the Holy Spirit to help us have success in His work. We don’t have to let fear paralyze us and rob us of the joy that comes from serving the Lord. He has qualified us, called us, and enabled us.
God bless and go Cats!
Rev. Scott Murphy is the Pastor at the First Christian Church in Russellville.