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Role Reversal

Rob Stroup
Written by Rob Stroup

One of the unique characteristics of basketball is how quickly the game changes from offense to defense. If the other team has the ball, I am playing defense. I need to move close to my opponent, getting between him and his goal. I have to watch the ball and try to steal it. But when my team has the ball, everything changes. Now I need to gain distance between me and the other players so that my teammate can pass the ball to me. Offense (to bounce the ball, pass it, and score baskets) demands a different set of skills than playing defense. When Coach announced defensive drills in practice, a lot of groans were heard. For many guys it was boring to work on defense, but when the game was in full swing we often found a good defense could give us the edge.

In life we experience role reversals. Like switching from offense to defense, our role determines our responsibility. When we start life, we are children and must obey our parents and other adults. As time passes we become adults and the roles change. Now we must love and lead young people, especially our own children. Happily, parenting often progresses to grand parenting. Once again, the roles have changed. We tease that a grandparent’s only role is to spoil the grandkids, but a wise grandparent makes opportunities to influence the little ones to follow Christ.

Perhaps the most difficult role reversal happens even later in life. As adults we must be independent and lead others, but eventually senior adults once again become dependent on others. The assisted living communities are full of people facing the challenges of a new role in life. Now the caregiver has become the recipient of care. As some basketball players never learn how to play good defense, some folks that excelled in other areas of life drop the ball when they begin to lose their independence. Whole sitcoms have been developed around grumpy old men and women. As pain and weariness become hourly companions, it is easy to be short, irritable, and focused on self. It requires grace, humility and patience to be a blessing to others. Many Christians struggle when they reach this stage of life, but we need to remember two things:

  1. God is not done with us. Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
  2. Words are to be used for good, not evil. Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Proverbs 16:23 -24 The heart of the wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips. Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

Let’s determine that we will not be the bitter old person, but the blessed old person!