November 19, 2011

Church Ball

Church basketball is notorious for bringing out the worst in Latter-Day Saints. And while I wouldn't say the same is true for volleyball, last night's church volleyball game has made me think that it's time to hang up my volleyball shoes. Never naturally athletic, volleyball has been the only team sport at which I have felt competent enough for a recreational (certainly not competitive) game here and there. There was competitive vibe during last night's game that prevented me from enjoying the sport like I normally do. Conversely, I am pretty sure I hindered the enjoyment of my teammates.

Pride injured, I wanted to make excuses for my playing--I was too cold, the net was too high, the gym is too big! And, aren't church sports supposed to be more relaxed, more low key, than this? Isn't this a venue in which mediocre players are supposed to be allowed a chance to participate?

Struggling with my dejected feelings, it occurred to me that church ball is emblematic of all of the problems inherent in a volunteer organization such as ours. My engineer husband, who approaches every job with efficiency and effectiveness, often struggles with inefficiencies and the never-ending call for more meetings. And, how many, participating in ward choir, have groaned because of the one monotone singer who faithfully attends every practice, and never sings in tune?

One dear friend of mine quit attending ward choir, and when I talked to her, she said that she had lost her voice, and it was time for her to hang up her vocal chords. She didn't want to be the one old lady that everyone wished wouldn't come to choir any more. I recalled her words last night after volleyball, and made the decision that I wouldn't be that person that everyone secretly wishes would stay away.

But what about those poor souls who never "get it"?

Two examples from the Savior's life come to mind: The instant in which the apostles wanted to send the children away so that Jesus could get some rest, and Jesus instead invited the children to come unto him; and the time when Jesus was found amongst the sinners and publicans, instead of the more "righteous" pharisees.

I'm not saying that my competitive volleyball friends are pharisees! But the Savior showed us how to be patient with those among us who are weak, and taught us to include everyone who wants to associate with us, even if we have to put aside our own desires for a "good game", or a pitch-perfect performance--a good lesson for me in my current calling as Ward Music Leader, and in whatever callings I may have in the future.


Marie said...

Hmmm.... Looking forward to hearing more about this!

Happy Thought, Indeed! said...

Something I may address in a further post might include strategies for including various levels of talent within a given volunteer organization.

For instance, our choir director is always careful not to select hymn arrangements that exceed the level of difficulty the choir members are comfortable with. Also, while she will rehearse a capella sections without accompaniment to encourage the singers to listen more closely to their pitches, she will have the choir pianist accompany those sections in the actual performance to ease everyone's nerves.

I would love to hear more suggestions on how to improve the quality of a performance, or a sporting event, without excluding the less experienced and less competitive, but enthusiastic participants.