Quarterback Commandment No. 8

June 1, 2009 at 2:09 pm | Posted in Quarterback Commandments | 24 Comments
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When Bill Parcells included Commandment No. 8 in his list of Quarterback Commandments, he wanted Tony Romo, quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, to be very conscious of time.

Quarterback Commandment No. 8: Learn to manage the game – personnel, play call, motions, ball handling, proper reads, accurate throws, play fakes. Clock. Clock. Clock. Don’t you ever lose track of the clock.

Spiritual Application: The life of a Christian quarterback involves much hectic multitasking, but we must not forget that we do not have a limitless amount of time to do the work of the Lord.

Let’s start with a strong dose of reality. NFL quarterbacks are not beleaguered martyrs. They are pampered multimillionaire superstars. Their wristwatches cost more than my house. They drive expensive cars, they live in mansions, and unless they get addicted to drugs, gambling, fast women, dogfighting, or bad investments, neither they nor their grandchildren, nor their grandchildren’s grandchildren, should ever need to lift a finger to do any real work a day in their lives. Do they receive some harsh criticism in the media? You bet. But, the bottom line is, they are worshiped, adored, and feted for playing a game. Do they deserve it? No, they don’t! Except for Romo – he deserves every penny, perk, and privilege. (Hey, leave me alone – I’m a Cowboys fan!)

Now, having taken that strong dose of reality, and having chased it down with a shot of levity, I hope you will, for spiritual illustration purposes, note that there are an impressive and daunting number of things that Parcells understands an NFL quarterback must tend to during each and every play:

Personnel: Which of my teammates are actually on the field for this particular play, and what particular skills and reactions are they capable of utilizing given the ever-changing situation?

Play call: Which of the 88 plays printed in microscopic code on my wristband, or being barked at me over my helmet phone, are we going to run next?

Motions: Which players are going to be moving around after we line up but before the ball is snapped, and which ones must remain completely motionless?

Play fakes: Will I make sure not to allow the ball to bump into my own player or a marauding defender in my own backfield, as I fake handoffs and passes in an attempt to misdirect the other team?

Proper reads: Which defenders are lined up where, and what does that mean about where I look first, and throw next?

Accurate throws: Will I need to loft a high floating pass beyond a linebacker’s outstretched fingers, or plant my feet and rifle a crisp bullet pass between a blanketing cornerback and a rapidly closing safety?

Ball handling: Oh yeah, I’ve got to remember to get a good firm grip on the ball before I snatch my hands from under the center’s rear-end, or none of this matters anyway!

And all this must be computed in about 25 seconds max (!), through a brain that wouldn’t have passed “hotel management” at Midwestern U without the help of “special tutoring.” As Parcells says, “Clock. Clock. Clock. Don’t you ever lose track of the clock.” I was pretty hard on the quarterbacks, as far as having things easy, but that is a lot to think about.

Now, Christian ministers, the quarterbacks of, not just a game, but the work of God’s Kingdom, must also be very conscious of time.

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Ephesians 5:15-16

We live in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation. All the signs that we can discern from the Bible for Christ’s imminent return seem to be readily apparent. No man knoweth the exact hour or day. But Scripture is clear. We are to love, live, and lead as though the trumpet could sound at any moment.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

I Thessalonians 4:16-17

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed… Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

I Corinthians 15:52,58

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

I Thessalonians 5:2-4

I think one of the main reasons that Jesus taught the parable that begins in Luke 19:11 – the so-called “Parable of the Pounds” – was to remind His disciples, and all His “Christian quarterbacks” today, to not forget that the game clock is running down, and that our time must be managed effectively. We must act with a sense of “cool” when things get hectic, but always have a sense of “urgency,” knowing what’s at stake. Now is the time for Christian quarterbacks to break the huddle, remember all our assignments, call for the ball, and use every tick of the clock to reach the goal line, anticipating the final whistle, which will signal the return of our King!

One of my favorite hymns says, “When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more…” One day, those who have been given eternal life by Christ Jesus will live outside of time. Until then, however, Christian ministers must remember: Clock, clock, clock… Don’t you ever lose track of the clock.

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