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The Winning Edge

Published 9/15/19

By Greg Johnson

What If...

You’re a basketball player for your school’s sixth-grade team. The team is pretty good and you get to play a lot. The reason: you’re a good passer, and the coach likes having guards who can get the ball to the big guys. You don’t shoot a lot—unless you’re wide open. Quite a few fans show up to your games.

This game has been a tough one. Your opponents are trying everything to win, even leaving some of their weaker players on the bench so the regulars can get more time. Though your coach wants to beat the other team, he doesn’t stoop to making players ride the pines just to win... usually.

The buzzer ends the third quarter and your team is down by six. Things definitely don’t look good. Your coach takes you and a few other starters out and puts in the second-stringers—just like always. Two minutes later, your team is down by ten! It looks like there’s no hope. The next whistle a minute later, however, the coach puts the regulars back in. It’s a little early to go back in, but you sense he wants to see if you can make a comeback.

As soon as you go in you steal the ball and go all the way for a lay-up. The next time down they take the ball, shoot and miss. Bringing the ball up court, you spot one of your best shooters in the corner at the three-point line. You fire him a perfect pass, he sets, he shoots... swish! Down by five with three minutes to go. The other team takes it down the court quickly and gets an easy lay-up. Down seven again. One of the other guards brings the ball down and sees you breaking for the basket. He gives you a bounce pass and you stop and pop. It hits the glass and goes in. Down five.

They inbound the ball and you steal it again. As you head toward the basket, the opponent who threw the bad pass comes hard at you. You take one dribble to your right and lay it in just as he hacks your arm. Sinking the free throw, you’re only down by two with a minute and a half left. That’s when the other team tries to stall. They pass the ball around without trying to score. Everyone is playing good defense, though, and you know they can’t hold onto the ball forever. Finally, one of their players panics and takes a bad shot.

With fifteen seconds left you dribble the ball up court looking for your three-point shooter. He’s covered. Dribbling to your left, you lob the ball into the center, hoping he can make a move and get an easy shot to tie the game. Seven seconds. Immediately, three guys cover him so he kicks the ball back out to you. Glancing at the clock, then the rim, you let the ball fly from behind the three-point line. It hits the back of the rim... goes straight up in the air... and through the net. A three-pointer! Your team wins by one!

In case you weren’t counting, you scored ten points and had one assist in the last four minutes! Everyone runs up to you to give you high-fives. The coach gives you a big hug and lifts you off the ground. Mom and Dad are clapping and screaming like high schoolers.

The next day in school, everyone has heard about the great game you played and comes up to congratulate you.

Questions to Think On

• There’s nothing wrong with playing well and being congratulated. But sometimes too much attention over something done well can give a person a big head. How are you going to deal with all the attention?

• What do you think pride is? Can you have too much of it?

• What could you do to stay (not just act) humble?

• Feeling good about your accomplishments is important, but have you ever known people who make sure everyone recognizes them after they do something good? What do you think of these people?

• Mom and Dad: What’s the best way to keep from becoming too proud?

What Does God Have to Say?

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Romans 12:3



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