Thursday, November 17, 2011
Youth worker succeeds beyond wildest dreams
Do we think of Christian calling too narrowly?
Back in 1891, a worker at the YMCA was given the job of developing an indoor sport that would use plenty of energy and prevent the students from becoming bad-tempered from inactivity during the long months of winter. In a modest way, it would improve the health and quality of life for those who participated. Isn't that a valid calling? The YMCA thought so. The assigned worker, James Naismith, thought so. Naismith had been an athlete in college and was gifted in sports. A valid calling is what makes the best use of our gifts and talents, isn't it?
Most charity groups run on a small budget, so that may have been why he chose the simple soccer ball and peach basket combination for his new indoor sport. The game quickly became very popular. The story has it that someone considered naming the game after its inventor, "Naismith ball", but Naismith wanted something to reflect the game itself: "basket ball".
Naismith probably could not have imagined the place basketball now has, not just in the U.S., but in the world. He lived to see his game included as an Olympic sport. I doubt, when he took his assignment to invent a new game, that he ever envisioned the wizardry of the Harlem Globetrotters or the artistry of Kobe Bryant, or the fact that every city park I have ever seen has basketball hoops.
A mission from God doesn't always mean preaching. If Naismith had tried to do that, he'd have missed his calling.