Volleyball, Anyone?


Volleyball has always been one of my favorite team sports. I have many happy memories of playing the game at summer camp and family reunions. Of course, these matches broke all the rules we learned from our junior high physical education instructors. (We called them “gym teachers” in grade school, because in order to teach at the grade school level, these folks weren’t required to have a college diploma, only a sense of humor.)

Anyway, I liked volleyball because it was truly a team sport, an activity where we could actually help each other win the game. When the ball came to me, I could “set” it to someone else, who then would “set” it to the next person for the winning spike.

Although I also enjoyed tennis—playing and watching—I discovered with my first tennis lesson in high school that this was a very different sport. When the ball came to me, I was the only one who could smash it back. Even doubles tennis didn’t allow for any sharing. Imagine how fun it would be if, in doubles tennis, I could lob the ball to you, my playing partner, and you could crush it down our opponents’ throats? Don’t try this even at summer camp or a family reunion.

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (5:21). Paul told the Christians in Ephesus. Wives, respect your husbands.  Husbands, love and serve your wives. In fact, be willing to give your lives for them. Children, obey your parents. If he had had access to the two sports, the Apostle might have said it this way: “Marriage is not singles tennis. It’s not even doubles tennis.  Marriage is volleyball.” And one more thing he would have said: “You and your family are on the same volleyball team.”

In fact, for the sake of this conversation, let’s call your opponents the “visitors” and your team the “home team.”

Isn’t this a great picture?  Challenges, circumstances, or opportunities come flying across the net. Someone takes the initial hit. This may come at some level of personal sacrifice, especially if the ball comes over the net as a result of the opponent’s vicious spike. Diving on the ground to save the ball or taking the shot in the face are a part of this game. 

But good volleyball players save the ball to someone on their own team. The second team member is the stable one—the most important person in this play. He takes the save from the first player, and then he directs the ball to the best person to win the point.  His watchful eye, his dedication to the team’s strategy, and his accuracy in putting the ball in the right spot for the spiker ensure a point for the good guys—the home team.

Over the centuries, people—insecure men especially—have taken five singly-selected words from Ephesians 5 and used them to beat their own inflated chests, “Wives, submit to your husbands.” Some of them have even made noises reminiscent of Tarzan.  This is neither a pretty sight nor is it biblical. Men who have done this have perpetuated a vicious lie.

“Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph. 5:21 ESV).

Of course, every working organization has individuals who are willing to assume strategic roles. Someone creates the product, someone sells the product, someone watches the money, and someone watches over the whole operation. God’s plan is for dads, as presidents of their family, to keep an eye on the entire family, making certain that each vice president is thoroughly trained, adequately supervised, and tenaciously motivated. His job is to encourage, serve, to share, to participate, and to give his life for the whole team.

Good dads do not have tennis racquets in their hands, because they are playing a different game. Get ready . . .  here comes the volleyball right now.  It’s really moving, and it’s headed right for you. You can do this.