At the completion of my first year at The Urban Alternative, my team gave me a Christmas present that remains one of the dearest presents I’ve ever received. It’s a crystal soccer ball. Being that it is crystal and heavy, it’s fun to hold. I like to roll it around in my hand and toss it in the air a bit when I’m thinking, though I do so very carefully because, again, it is crystal. Often others that I meet with also pick the ball up off of my desk and roll it around in their hands.
But what makes it dear to me is not the fact that it is crystal or that it is a soccer ball. I never played soccer a day in my life.
On the base of the stand is an engraved crown, like one a prince would wear. Under that is my name and at the very bottom is the statement “For Carrying The Ball.” I’ll get to the meaning of that statement but I’ll start with where it came from…
Two months into my job in January of 2012 I attended the National Religious Broadcasters Conference. For Dr. Evans and national and international radio teachers, preachers and personalities, this is a significant conference where much of our planning, strategy, learning and encouragement is shared. It’s a bit of an annual launch and is a very memorable time. I’ve met everyone from David Jeremiah to Ben Carson to your local radio station manager at this conference.
Well, in my first year I have to say I came in a bit proud. I was excited in my new role. There is no doubt that I was thankful for where the Lord had brought me. But if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that a small chip was resting quite contentedly on my shoulder.
And that is where the Lord’s sovereignty came in. Dr. Evans and I were walking from interview to interview, meeting to meeting. A very well-established man—and a name that many of you would recognize—walked up to Dr. Evans, said hello and began a dialogue with him. They were old friends and I stood there, taking it all in. I noticed the man was holding a very colorful soccer ball with squares of red, black, white, green and gold. Many of you have seen the evangelism tools with these colors and know that they stand for different things associated with salvation. This ball was being distributed around the world to help teach children about Jesus, His saving work and His love for them.
Towards the end of their conversation, this man began to hand the soccer ball to Dr. Evans as a gift, but then noticed me standing with Dr. Evans. He assumed that I was Dr. Evans’ assistant and handed me the ball without even glancing in my eyes or acknowledging my presence. In that moment I felt a bit humiliated and a bit less than.
During the past five years I have worked with this man and have developed a relationship with him. I know his intent wasn’t to humiliate me but the Lord was set on teaching me some early lessons.
The first lesson was a lesson in humility. Scripture is replete with reminders that even Jesus took on the nature of a servant. In that moment He was reminding me to take pride in my humiliation. It was also a reminder that He called me to serve, not to get overly proud or enamored with my perceived success.
The second lesson He taught me was about purpose. That ball was a reminder that the sole reason the Lord brought me to where He had was to spread the good news of Jesus. It wasn’t for conferences, it wasn’t to meet neat people and it wasn’t about my new role.
I shared that story with my team when I got back to Dallas and they have been faithful to keep that reminder in front of me each and every day, thanks to the help of that good old crystal ball.