When You’re On The Bench

I love college football, and I’m a long-time Alabama fan. Which is why I was so intrigued by an incredible story that happened over the past year.

In January 2018, quarterback Jalen Hurts began the national title game against Georgia with a 25-2 record as a starter. Trailing 13-0 at the start of the second half, the coach replaced him with the backup quarterback, a freshman named Tua Tagovailoa. He came in and turned the game around, giving Alabama the national championship.

And Tua has been the starting QB ever since, with Jalen benched as his backup.

In an interview, someone asked Jalen what he did after winning the national championship, and he said he sat in his hotel room with his parents and cried. He asked his dad, “What am I going to do?” And his dad said, “You’re going to fight.” And what he meant was, you’re going to stick with it and work hard.

So Jalen stayed at Alabama and remained the backup QB. The truth is, with a 25-2 record he could have transferred anywhere and played as starting quarterback. But this Freshman of the Year and SEC Player of the Year decided to stay on the sidelines at Bama.

He sat on the bench all the way to the SEC Championship on Dec. 2, when they were again playing Georgia, and were again behind. Only this time it was Tua who was injured and went out of the game. They were down by a touchdown, 28-21, and so they brought in Jalen Hurts.

Here’s what happened next.  [ link to: https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/ncaafbvideos/highlights-alabama-wins-sec-title-behind-hurts-heroics/vi-BBQlYHj ]

Sports are driven by competition. To be the best. To be the star. Sometimes as leaders we’re susceptible to this too. I know some of you are in seasons of changing roles, with positions you no longer have, or a new role that someone thinks is better for the team going forward. And it feels like you’re sitting on the bench, and not part of the action.

So I encourage you: You have a choice about how you respond or react. Hurts gave us an example of what it looks like to respond in God’s love and grace – to be the best teammate, and the best player he could possibly be – even if that meant sitting on the bench. And when his time came, he shined because he‘d been preparing.

Today you may be the person on the bench, and tomorrow you may take the lead. Choose to be responders, not reactors. Choose to serve with compassion and grace and purpose, and trust God for the outcome.