The football player from Abilene Christian University thought he had a touchdown — he even flashed the “peace” sign as he neared the goal line — until a defensive player from Army chased him down and caught up just a few yards shy of the end zone. Arizona Cardinals defensive player Budda Baker was sure he’d picked up six points for his team, having intercepted Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson … that is, until DK Metcalf ran nearly the length of the field and tripped Baker, bringing him to the ground a couple yards from the end zone. That play headlined NFL coverage for days afterward as commentators and football fans everywhere pointed out Metcalf’s incredible hustle and blistering speed.
Coaches, parents and fans everywhere in all sports preach the importance of hustle. But sometimes, it can appear as though even your best hustle won’t do any good. Sometimes it can feel as though it’s easier just to give up on the play and try again another day. In the case of both of these plays mentioned, it looked like an opposing touchdown was a dead given. There seemed to be no way that anybody could catch the guy with the ball and prevent him from scoring. But neither Metcalf nor the player from Army would take “no” for an answer.
When you take the court, the field, the track or the workplace, do you give it everything you have, even when it feels like a losing effort? Do you prize excellence enough to keep putting out your best effort, even though it may not produce the immediate results you are hoping for?
As a follower of Jesus Christ, excellence should matter to you. There are countless passages in Scripture that speak of how your work ethic translates directly to your spiritual witness. When people see you doing things excellently, it reflects on your Heavenly Father and your desire to please Him, seeing as He is a God of perfection and excellence in all He has made or done. It also reflects on your desire to honor your team and those you play for. You’re willing to go the extra mile oftentimes for people you respect, and you earn their respect when they see you out there giving it your best every single day, all day.
So the next time it looks like you’re probably going to be thrown out at first base, or the opposing player is well beyond your ability to catch up, or the score is so lopsided it feels tempting to just throw in the towel and save your energy for another day, think about the fact that how you hustle, if you hustle, is a reflection of your heart.
Both Metcalf and the player from Army were willing to run the risk that their effort might not be enough to stop the opposing player from scoring. But that risk was still worth it to them. Is it worth it to you?