Volleyball and Serving God

Last year I did something I had not done in over 20 years. I attended a volleyball game. My wife played through High School and eventually played in college. In fact, the first time I saw her was at a college volleyball game. When we began dating she played and then she continued playing through our first year of marriage. Then we moved and she no longer played competitively and I no longer went to watch a game.

Well, for the past year my oldest son has been dating a girl who is very much into sports. One night we went to watch her play volleyball. As I watched I became more and more intrigued by the position of “setter.” This is the person on the team that gets down low and sets up the ball for someone else to spike. I immediately thought that being a “setter” is not a very glorious position. Setters do not get highlight films. The highlights are reserved for people who are tall and make dominating spikes down on the other team. Highlights are for tall girls with long legs that jump high and spike or block. They are the ones whose actions directly relate to the team getting a point. A person who plays “setter” is lucky to get a picture on the internet from her mother.

Here is the thing about people. Everyone wants to spike the ball and very few people want to set the ball for other people. My wife was on a recreational volleyball team a few years ago and her complaint was simple. One of the team members always wanted people to set him and yet he was never willing to set anyone else. He wanted the fun and the spot light all to himself.

As you can imagine in volleyball there is a simple truth. Without someone to set the ball, there is no spiking, no points, no glory and no victory.

This truth about people crosses many lines. A youth football coach told me that he had all his players try out for different positions. Only one kid wanted to be a lineman. Everyone else wanted to be the quarterback, running back or receiver. I once read about a college that had accepted applications from well over 1,000 students. Of that 1,000 plus high school students only 1 said that they would like to be a good follower. Everyone else wanted to be a leader.

As I reflect on my years of ministry, I have come to a realization. Every great Church is not built on great leaders alone. It is built on people who are willing to swallow their pride and work behind the scenes – people who are setters, linemen and followers. Those people who give of themselves without the glory of the spotlight. Jesus reminds us that our heavenly father will reward what is done “in secret.” While your service may never make the highlight reel on the six o’clock news it will not go unnoticed by the eyes of God.


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