How Big Is Your Heart?


On March 1, 2009, Corey Smith drowned along with two friends, Marquis Cooper and Will Bleakly. The three men and Nick Schuyler were on a fishing boat in the Gulf of Mexico when it overturned while they tried to pull up an anchor that had gotten stuck. Smith and Cooper were both NFL football players. Schuyler would be the only one to survive the two-day ordeal in 63-degree water with 15-foot waves pounding them. In his book describing their nightmare experience, “Not Without Hope,” Schuyler tells of one instance in the life of Corey Smith when he played for the Lions. Smith had sustained a hamstring injury in a game against the Chicago Bears, and the coaches tried to take him off the kickoff team. Schuyler writes:

“Coach, I can give you one more play,” Corey told Stan Kwan, the Lions’ special teams coach. “I might not be able to walk after that, but I can give you one more play.”

So they left him in the game. The Bears tried an onside kick, but the Lions recovered. Corey made two blocks on the return, sprung his teammate for a touchdown, and the Lions won. While everyone else celebrated the touchdown, Corey limped to the sideline. He was finished for the day, but he had done his job. The next day, Rod Marinelli, Detroit’s head coach at the time showed a replay of Corey’s blocks to the team as a sign of determination and toughness.

“Rod just showed the play over and over.” Kwan told the Detroit News. “Right then and there, his teammates knew he was a team guy first. He’s not the fastest guy. He wasn’t the tallest or biggest guy for a defensive end, but his heart was bigger than everyone else’s.” (p.10)

As I read this page of the book, I stopped and thought about what makes a true teammate. I decided that it’s the size of your heart. When you’re a team, you learn to put what’s important for the team first. Although it’s okay to express what “I” think is best, it is secondary to what is best for the team to fulfill a common goal. 

I love football and played it all through junior high and high school. Over the years, I’ve watched great teams with great players pile up win after win, only to falter when they entered the playoffs. I have watched teams that everyone expected to win and even go all the way to the state championship. Often, these teams have a couple of exceptionally good players who are considered the team’s stars. Many of these great teams fail because they depend too much on the stars and forget that to win, it takes a team of twenty-two players on the field. Great teams have often found themselves dead after one or two playoff games because of individual desires instead of putting the team first.

When I was a senior, we had a few college-quality players, but the team, many thought, would not be as good as teams past. However, what I remember about our group of guys was that we were first a team. No one looked for individual glory, but whatever it took to be a team is what we did. In the end, this team won the state championship.

God expects the church to grow as a team, not individuals seeking their interests over the interests of what is best for all. What Paul writes concerning the body can also be applied to the church as a team. In 1st Corinthians 12:12, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.”

He explains in verses 14-22 “Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable,” 

He then sums up the team and its players known as the church in verse 27, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

In Philippians 2:4, Paul again encourages us to look at the church not as individual stars but as vital members of the body. “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Whether we are members, serve as ministers, deacons, or elders, we are all part of the team. Our team is the “body of Christ.” Everything we do, everything we say, everything we think and every way we present ourselves we do for the honor and glory of God for the good of Christ and “His Body.” Sometimes our hearts must be like that of Corey Smith, giving of ourselves for the good of the team even when we’re struggling ourselves. 

There will be members of the team who do not have specific talents that another holds. Not everyone possesses the same gifts. But there is one thing we all do have in common. It’s as big as we want to make it. It’s our heart to serve the Lord. It’s the heart to reach the lost and care for the hurting. 

So the question we can ask as we serve is, “How big is our heart?”

Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ

One comment

  • Being part of a team is a responsibility and a blessing. I have a lot of trouble accepting my bench time! I need to remember that the TEAM will carry us through and may even discover some hidden talent.


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