In May, when the Angels’ ace pitcher Jered Weaver threw the first no-hitter of his career, he was overwhelmed with emotion. When interviewed, Weaver, an All-Star hurler by any standard, immediately began to talk about his parents and wife, the support of his family and their importance in his life, and how this master-class pitching performance would never have been possible without them. In the world of big-time sports, where athletes routinely blow their own horn and trumpet their own personal greatness, this was a moment of refreshing clarity. The fact is that none of us accomplishes anything in a vacuum. Our skills have been developed, our mindsets have been learned, and our efforts have been influenced by parents, siblings, spouses, teachers, coaches, pastors, and friends who have cared enough to make a difference in our lives. No one achieves any level of success alone—we are deeply dependent on one another; and when we are blessed with success in any arena of life, it is certain that the fingerprints of many others are indelibly etched upon those successes.
The apostle Paul planted churches, endured suffering, wrote half the New Testament, and did it all to honor his Lord, but he also recognized the contributions of others to his efforts and gave thanks for them.
- In Romans 16:4, he told of Aquila and Priscilla, “who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.”
- In Ephesians 1:16, he marveled at how the church at Ephesus had developed spiritually and said, “[I] do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers.”
- In 1 Thessalonians 3:9, Paul celebrated the joy he had because of his relationship with the church at Thessalonica: “What thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account?” (NASB).
The great apostle understood very clearly that any good he had achieved had not taken place in isolation—it had been with the help, encouragement, and participation of others. And for that help, encouragement, and participation, Paul gave thanks. He gave thanks to God, but he gave thanks for them.
I suspect all of us, in our moments of quiet reflection, could come up with quite a list of those who have helped us along the way, beginning with the Father. As Paul wrote: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Colossians 3:17).
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain