Kurtis Blow said it well back in 1984, “Basketball is my favorite sport . . . ”
It’s true, I love the game of basketball. I love to play, watch, talk about, or just be around the game. I sincerely hope my son wants to play basketball one day, as I would love the chance to coach a group of little leaguers in this great game . . . a pass forward to a new generation the love of a game that Hesser, Cross, Dishman, Hughes, Johnson, Shaffer, and my Dad instilled in me.
Though I was never a big scorer in any of the organized basketball I played (I averaged more floor burns than buckets), I have settled on a shooting philosophy that I think should be in the mind of every kid as they learn to shoot the basketball at game speed. That philosophy is simple: shoot to make, not to shoot.
Whether I am playing or watching basketball, I see guys all too often take shots just because they feel the need to shoot (it’s their turn). When someone is shooting to shoot, they will rush a shot, take a bad shot, or refuse to throw it to a teammate who has a better shot . . . just because they feel like they need to shoot it. This is crazy though. You do not win games by shooting, you win games by making. So, don’t shoot unless there is a good chance you are going to make it.
You see this same dynamic at play with dribbling. Players dribble just to dribble . . . or pass just to pass. The goal of the game is to outscore the opponent, not to take more shots, dribble more in circles, or play catch with your teammates. All dribbling, shooting, and passing should be designed to make (not take) more shots.
Sports help teach people lessons like this that are valuable in many areas of life after the final buzzer sounds. In fact, the Apostle Paul tapped into these lessons as he wrote 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. In these verses he says:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Paul was saying that the Christian should “shoot to make,” not just “shoot to shoot” in the spiritual life. In other words a believer in Jesus is to have purpose in their religious activity . . . not just go through the motions. Sadly, too many Christians just “shoot to shoot” instead of “shooting to make.” Too many of us read our Bible, pray, or attend worship services just to check the box and say we did it. We enter into those activities with only minimal expectation or sense of purpose. I say this is sad because these activities were never intended to be ends in themselves. We were not intended to shadow-box our way through the Christian life . . . we are supposed to actually be landing punches.
Jesus wants to involve us in His plans and His work. He wants to use us to share His hope and love with a dying world. In this life, we read His Word to prepare ourselves for battle with a proper understanding of who God is. We fellowship with other Christians to garner momentum and completeness to help us serve Him with our collective lives. We pray in order to express our personal relationship with the Savior and to tap into His power to work through us. Jesus gives us this purpose . . . and He invites us to live on purpose with Him for the rest of our lives.
So, as you think about your week, don’t just shoot to shoot . . . shoot to make.