When the Seattle Seahawks took the field for Sunday’s Super Bowl contest, they were led by a flag emblazoned with the number 12. Later that evening as they hoisted the Lombardi Trophy in celebration of their 43-8 victory over Denver, the common refrain was a salute to the fan base affectionately known as “The 12th Man.” It was The 12th Man who, we were told, helped them through a successful season to their first NFL championship.
Really? Other than making a deafening noise, do fans really have an impact on the outcome of a game? After all, it’s the coaches who draw up the game plan and the players who put in the countless hours of training, practice and preparation for the games. It’s the performance of those who pound it out on the field that determines the true outcome of the contest. All the fans do is cheer in the stands, urging the team on to a victory they will refer to as “our championship.”
Athletes will tell you the encouragement and support of their fans does make a difference. True, the fans are not the ones who make the plays. But, there is a push to another level when the chant “U.S.A.” echoes in an Olympic hockey venue, the fans rise to their feet for the final out in the ninth or The 12th Man makes its presence known.
Ask any pastor. The email explaining how Sunday’s message impacted your life this week makes a difference. Making an appointment so you can pray for him and his needs relieves his burdens. Uplifting words from the church board renews his outlook on ministry. Though God has called him to shoulder the burden of ministry, the congregation’s support has an impact.
Ask your friend struggling through a trial. A silent, warm embrace after they hear a disheartening report from the doctor gives courage to press on. A note expressing your concern and prayers gives assurance he is not pounding it out on his own. Warm meals or an offer of childcare encourages her heart. Carrying one another’s burdens not only fulfills the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2), it also spurs others on in the difficulties of everyday life.
“Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up” is Paul’s admonition in 1 Thess. 5:11. Show support for those slugging it out on the playing field of life. Cheer them on when the going gets tough. Let them know you are with them, ready to rejoice when they lift the trophy high.
Let the people God has placed in your life know that you are their ardent fan. Be their “12th Man.”
Author: Pastor Frosty Hansen