My youngest son is in seventh grade this year, and getting his first opportunity to play team sports, specifically football. He’s been in CrossFit for the past four years, so his foundational positions and mechanics are sound. But now he’s learning how the game is played. And on the offensive line where he plays, power and leverage are king. He came home dejected this week after practice. He had to block one of the biggest, fastest defensive linemen on his team, and he got beat. Suffice it to say my son likes to win, something I can relate to. I said to him, “Son, as the speed of the game slows down, you’re going to notice things you don’t notice now. Like the way this defensive lineman lines up. The way he shifts his body before the snap, which arm bears most of his weight, or where his eyes look. All this will help you one day win the battle, because you’ll know his tendencies.”
We all have tendencies. Some of you tend to go to the gym more days than not. Some of you tend to hit the snooze button at least two or three times before you finally get out of bed. We all have inclinations towards certain types of behaviors. But tendencies aren’t solely reserved for behaviors, the same can also be said for beliefs. For example, if an athlete tends to fear failure, they might be mysteriously absent when PR week rolls around. If another tends to expect perfection, they might be reluctant to try new things or be constantly disappointed when their expectations aren’t met.
Of course, tendencies can also be positive. If you tend to believe the best about others, you’re going to be more willing to overlook their shortcomings. If you tend to have the attitude that it’s all going to work out in life, you’ll probably have less anxiety or desire to be in control. Ok, real world example. Let’s say the same person has all four of these tendencies - they fear failure, expect perfection, believe the best in others, and know it will all work out. Is it possible to have both positive and negative tendencies? Absolutely. In fact, we all do. The key is to favor the tendencies drawing you closer to God. In other words, which tendencies would God choose for you?
God doesn’t fear your failure, so why should you? God doesn’t expect perfection, so why do you? These types of beliefs tend to draw us away from God. I’ve seen too many people think God can’t love them for something in their past, or that God will withhold His love from them if they mess up. The Good News of the Gospel is like a 180 on these ideas. God loved us so much, He sent His Son to defeat death, so that through Him we can have eternal life. Nothing you did in the past disqualifies you, and nothing you can do in the future will make Him take it away from you.
Let me close with one final observation. You can’t see all your tendencies. When my son lines up across from this defensive lineman, he can see his tendencies. The defensive lineman isn’t even thinking about that. Well, at least not in seventh grade probably. You need people you trust to show you your tendencies, and you need the humility to do something about them. Lean in on what tends to draw you closer to God and let go of what doesn’t. May the life you live reflect the fullness of God’s love for you.
Questions for Reflection:
Between loving God, loving others, and loving yourself, which do you tend to do most consistently?
Has reading the Bible ever revealed a tendency in your life? If so, what was it and what did you do?