These thoughts are to help and inspire people like you and me to reach higher and strive for greater things, to stand for a cause more noble than self serving, seeing the good in others and seeking it for their sake. I unashamedly weave my faith, biblical insight and life experiences into a sporting context to illustrate my personal journey to this point - I hope in a small way, I can help you on your journey to being all you were intended to be....

There are now over 50 posts to check out, tweet, link to facebook or google+ Please feel free to share a link BUT If you use any of the illustrations please acknowledge the source as Phil Manchester, Bradford, England. You can follow me on twitter @philmanchester

Thursday, 22 March 2012

How did I end up here?

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself "how did I end up here?"

Sometimes that thinking can be deliberate - that's reflection. Sometimes, we get a sense of something  and over time we see it - that's realization. Other times, it takes something or someone external to our situation to shed some light - that's revelation. However our question comes to us, its generated by an awareness of us either ending up somewhere we never thought we'd attain to, or being in a position we never intended to be in when we set out.

As men we are not good at reflection - we can have a tendency to get our heads down, engage in contact, thinking we are being courageous, but missing the bigger picture. In sport, its about scoring tries, making touchdowns, hitting home runs, shooting those hoops. In business its about, hitting those targets, making a margin that will produce a return. In serving others its about making a difference to them, not us. In relationships its about us, not me.

In rugby union, there is a move called "the rolling maul" - hey that sounds like life doesn't it? The move starts with a player in possession of the ball engaging in contact with an opposition player. Provided the player can stay on his feet, other players from each side can "bind" onto their respective players, trying to wrestle the ball away from the player in possession - the important thing is, if you enter into contact and a maul forms, you have to maintain forward momentum. Your team mates will try and drive you on and the opposition will try and drive you back.

It can be a very effect tactic, particularly if you have a physical advantage and can travel across the gain line. At other times, it can descend into a wrestling match that is going nowhere, other than sapping the strength of the combatants. Recent law changes have given players and referees some important guidance. Provided there is momentum, the move can continue. If the maul stops - the referee will reset the game and hand possession over to the opposition. Quite a responsibility for the team taking the ball into contact then? Quite often the better referees will let players know - sometimes, you will hear them shout "use it or lose it" - that's the point as a player stuck in the middle of a mass of players, with no chance of shipping the ball, you think to yourself "how did I end up here?".... the point being, when we committed to engaging in contact, our intention wasn't stalemate or conceding possession.

The man's man Jesus Christ, notes something about the way in which men start to engage and the effects different contexts have on us. He used an illustration about ground conditions. Seed sown by farmers lands on ground which may be experiencing different conditions. Some ground is rock hard and the seeds bounce off it and are picked off easily by predators. Its not much of a game if we can be picked off easily, especially if we think we are hard. Other conditions are shallow and the seed doesn't stand much chance of making it - how often we are shallow about things that are really important - especially relationships. At other times ground conditions can be thick with weeds that simply choke the life out of anything that starts to move - a bit like getting stopped in your tracks in a rolling maul. At other times, the ground is good and the results are great. Who would set out to be picked off or through being shallow lose something of worth? Or who sets out to have the life choked out of them? No one.

The offer of Jesus Christ is to help us as men to reflect on where we are right now, to see that there is a big picture that we are part of and to be there with us, driving us forward, being that great support to us, mentor, coach, life strength conditioner. Perhaps the best question we can ask ourselves as men, no matter how we arrive at it (through reflection, realization or through revelation) is "how did I end up here?" - perhaps that can be a starting point to regaining or refocusing on our part in a much bigger picture - how about it?

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