A post for those who feel like they should be benched.
Originally published in October 2021, I dug this out of the archive in honor of Matt Corral being drafted to the NFL by the Carolina Panthers. 😁
In an interview the week of the Alabama game, Ole Miss junior quarterback and Heisman Trophy favorite, Matt Corral, was asked in an interview to name the defining moment in his career.
You would expect him to point out a bowl victory or a breakout game with off-the-chart stats. While he has both on his resumé, the pivotal, career-defining moment for him was last year’s game against Arkansas. Yep, the one where he infamously threw, count ‘em, six interceptions.
That was the standout, defining, most important game for him. Why? Because it was humbling. It taught the young buck QB that he still had a lot to learn, skills to develop, and gifts to hone.
But the Arkansas game also was a powerful moment for him because his head coach, Lane Kiffin, refused to bench him.
Although Corral expected to be pulled, Kiffin told him, “This is your team. I believe in you. Get back in the game.”
At his lowest, the most authoritative voice in his life spoke words of reassuring, empowering grace.
In the wake of the Arkansas game, Corral was doubly motivated to get better as the leader of the Ole Miss offense. He didn’t say, “I want to be the greatest.” Not even, “I’m going to get my act together and win the Heisman!” Nope. None of that. He told Kiffin, “I just want to be coached.”
He just wanted to learn so he could get better for the team.
There is so much here to process. Let me try to distill the lesson.
✨ When grace is dispensed to someone who has just failed miserably, grace turns the humiliation of defeat into a teachable spirit that is able to be shaped by grace into something (or someone) with extraordinary potential. ✨
There is something intrinsic about grace that changes us, especially when we’ve just had a six-interception day.
Paul knew this. Writing to Titus, he says,
11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11-14)
Did you notice how Paul leverages grace in that text? He says it is the kindness of God that provides the authoritative voice of grace we need to hear in our failure. Grace teaches us. Grace tutors and changes us.
Why are we eager to do good? Because Jesus gave himself for us to redeem us.
Here is how it works.
FIRST, we receive grace.
Not from a coach, of course, but from the Savior, Jesus. We see him take our place for our failure upon a cross, bearing the penalty and shame for the guilt of sin.
Have you heard God say these words? “You are fully forgiven. You are beautiful in my sight. I treasure you as my child.”
Want Scripture to back that up? How about John 10:27-29?
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.
Jesus gives, we receive, and the Father holds us secure. Jesus repeats this fact. Because we are so inclined to forget or disbelieve the degree to which he loves us, Jesus repeats it twice. So great is the Father’s fierce covenantal bond with us, “no one can snatch them out his hand.”
We are talking about the hand that created four-hundred billion galaxies.
If you’ve had a six-interception day, you probably expected the Father to bench you. You may think he is so disgusted with you he wishes you were not even on the team.
I’ve been there. If you have, the place to begin is to be graced again by Jesus. And again, and again, and again. Let his authoritative voice convince you. Let the cross convince you.
He will not let you go. He will not bench you. He will not kick you off the team.
It may very well be that your six-interception day can be turned into your own life-defining moment. It is doubtful that pivotal event will take place on a football field. I suppose it could be anywhere. A bedroom, closet, kitchen, basement, backyard, parking lot, coffee shop, or even a sanctuary — anywhere you can hear the Father’s voice declare, “You are mine. I will not let you go. So, get back in the game and play like you really believe that I will never bench you.”
SECOND, having received grace, we dispense grace to others on their six-interception days.
Giving grace makes us part of the process for how God empowers others, seeing them move from failure to hope and from humiliation to teachability. If this works on the football field, the same principle applies in our discipleship with Jesus and how we dispense grace in marriage, with our kids, in the workplace, on social media — everywhere.
There really is something powerfully transformative and freeing about being graced. And there is something powerfully transformative and freeing about being the one who gets to grace someone else!
So, I wonder. Who could I grace today? How about you? Isn’t that a fun question? Who knows where the ripple effect of being graced could lead?
But let’s be sure we’ve been graced, first. 🙂
- About Mustard Seed Discipleship
- Meet McKay Caston
- Theological Foundations
- Discover Our Content Philosophy
- Discover the Three Core Doctrines That Guide Us