Join The Winning Team! Come Together And Give Selflessly.

Join The Winning Team! Come Together And Give Selflessly.

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

The 2022 college football season has gone, and the Georgia Bulldogs have repeated as national champions. Some argue that our national admiration of sports numbs us to the deterioration of our society. (Think ancient Rome and circuses and bloody spectacles.) However, there are also critics within the college football fan base who believe that the current method of crowning a national champion is unfair. The latter is more a matter of sour grapes. But when I consider paid college football players and transfer portals that foster a sense of entitlement among four- and five-star recruits, I find it difficult not to listen to some criticism. 

As Kirby Smart’s teams have improved over the years, so has their emphasis on teamwork and selflessness. They’ve made it a permanent part of their game strategy, and as a result, they consistently give it their all in most contests. ESPN sports pundits marveled at Kirby’s ability to make his team believe they were undervalued and disrespected despite being labeled the favorites. But, as the adage goes, the proof is in the pudding. Many athletes wanted to help pave the way to victory for their teammates. That is to say, rather than dwelling on how many times they had possession of the ball or how many big plays they had made, they celebrated the accomplishments of their teammates. Nolan Smith, a senior, is a prime example of this because his senior season was cut short due to an injury. After his stellar play on last year’s national championship team, he was eligible to enter the NFL draft. But he returned to Georgia for his senior year. However, his injury hasn’t stopped him from acting as a de facto coach for the rest of the team. Marvin Jones, Jr., one of Smith’s admirers, says he wants to fill the void Smith will leave after graduation. 

Some readers might assume I’m just trying to boast about “my” Georgia Bulldogs. Trust me; there’s more to it than that. An even more valuable group needs the same sense of teamwork and selflessness. Yes, I’m referring to the church. Like sports teams, the church requires teamwork and a selfless attitude to work together for the same mission. Paul writes that each church member contributes to its growth by fulfilling their role (Ephesians 4.16). One aspect of this role is encouraging and supporting each other (1 Thessalonians 5.11). Paul even went so far as to say that we should defer to our weaker brothers’ scruples to pursue peace and edification (Romans 14.19). While it is true that we will give an account of ourselves to God (Romans 14.12), we must focus on the “team.” Jesus loved the church so much that He gave His life for her (Ephesians 5.25). As a result, we are to have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2.5ff). And the early church had its counterparts to people like Nolan Smith, most notably Andrew and Barnabas, two men about whom less is known but who undoubtedly had a significant impact on the early church. These two provided the selflessness and humility the church needs today by following the Lord’s call and putting aside their desires. 

Remember, we are not competing for a stylized black football atop a golden pedestal. Instead, we seek an imperishable crown (1 Corinthians 9.25). As a result, our devotion to the church must outweigh our enthusiasm for a football team on any autumn Saturday, especially in the South.  

Sources Consulted: 

Bender, Bill. “Entitlement at Georgia? Kirby Smart Keeps His Bulldogs Hungry and Focused on Winning Titles.” Entitlement at Georgia? Kirby Smart Keeps His Bulldogs Hungry and Focused on Winning Titles | Sporting News, 10 Jan. 2023,

Riley, Connor. “How Injured Nolan Smith Continues to Help Georgia Football Win: ‘He’s Been a Huge Help to Everyone.’” DawgNation, 30 Dec. 2022,

Brent Pollard


Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross


Neal Pollard

I am a lifelong fan of the SEC (Southeastern Conference), as a diehard, if long-suffering, Georgia Bulldog. In fact, I was born in Oxford, Mississippi, home to the Ole Miss Rebels football team that took on and beat the Indiana Hoosiers on January 2 at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida. But, I could not help but love the charisma and philosophy of Indiana’s head football coach, Tom Allen. They had a remarkable season, giving Ohio State all it could handle in the Big Ten Championship game. They are up-and-comers. They are over-comers. A big reason why is Allen’s motto. It has helped them deal with internal tragedy and loss. It has brought them together in a year that tore so many people apart, politically, racially, and philosophically. The motto is simply “L-E-O”: Love Each Other. He preaches to his players to live for something larger than themselves. He explained, “…You have to live your life with core values and core principles. There are anchors in your life. This is what we talk about all the time, that when these storms come — not if they come, when they come — you have a rock-solid foundation that cannot be shaken” (Jon Blau, Bloomington, IN, Star-Times, 1/3/21). He sees his opportunity as head coach as about much more than wins and losses, but about shaping young men at a crucial time in their lives. And what they need to succeed, he’s convinced, is “brotherly love.”

As fantastic as that, promoted by a man of faith like Allen, he’s simply echoing the motto Jesus already gave His disciples 2,000 years ago. John records Jesus’ admonition to His followers, when He said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). OK, technically, that’s L-O-A, but, when we remind each other, it’s L-E-O. More than a motto, it is our identifying mark. Jesus knew the power of selfless, sacrificial love. Love, defined as “the quality of warm regard for and interest in another” (BDAG, 6), helps us through the storms of life. It gives us something bigger than ourselves to lean on. 

New Testament writers tell us what L-O-A will do:

  • It causes us to serve one another (Gal. 5:13)
  • It roots and grounds us (Eph. 3:17)
  • It helps us show tolerance for one another (Eph. 4:2)
  • It makes us spiritual laborers (1 Th. 1:3)
  • It leads us to highly esteem one another (1 Th. 5:13)
  • It shows us as proper examples of a believer in Christ (1 Tim. 4:12)
  • It will cover a multitude of sins (1 Pet. 4:8)

Of course, the list is much longer than that, but think about the impact we can make on the world, especially right now, if we will work to master such a motto in the body of God’s Son. Love each other! Don’t divide into camps, suspect, prejudge, accuse, isolate from, and indict each other. That’s the world’s modus operandi (M.O.). We do that, and we have nothing to offer them that they do not already have. Offer them love, and you help fill a crucial void. God’s nature is love (1 John 4:8). It’s to be our nature, too! Let’s love each other. A desperate world is waiting. 



Neal Pollard

It was painful to watch my Georgia Bulldogs pulverized by the Auburn Tigers (my fellow Bronco fans can easily relate this year). Yet, later that Saturday evening, I found myself smiling and even cheering for a familiar face who was calmly embracing a signature win against college football’s number three team, Notre Dame. Level-headed. Even-keel. Happy. None of those words quite captured the way I wanted to describe Miami’s head coach, Mark Richt (former general of my beloved Dawgs). It was Dan Walken (USA Today, 11/13/17, 1C,6C) who found the one I was searching my mind for: “serene.” He is peaceful, placid, poised, and phlegmatic. But, as Walken points out, it’s not because the Hurricanes have ascended to number two in the Coaches and Press polls. He has been that all along, even the day he was fired at Georgia (his .740 winning percentage, 145-51, is the highest in college history for any coach ever to be fired). He was criticized for not being able to win the big game—which he still hasn’t. Second to that, the fan base was agitated that he was too concerned about his off-season mission work. There’s such an interesting story about how Richt came to faith, and how deeply his faith drives his life. Walken’s article mentions nothing of that, but few people who know about Richt fail to know how profoundly religion effects his life. It is, unquestionably, what drives his come-what-may serenity.

What characteristic best describes me? I know several I’d like for it to be, but, ultimately, I don’t get to describe myself. The people who know me or know about me get to do that. While the word “serene” is not found in most English translations, it is a biblical concept. 91 times, the New Testament uses a word (εἰρήνη—eirene) that is usually translated “peace.” Luke 11:21 has “undisturbed” (NASB). It can describe harmony between governments or in personal relationships, but it also describes a state of well-being within. In fact, that’s usually the way New Testament writers use it. Jesus says He offers a peace superior to what the world can give (John 14:27). A mind set on the Spirit is life and peace (Rom. 8:6). The God of hope can fill you with peace in believing (Rom. 15:13). This peace passes all comprehension and guards your heart and mind (Phil. 4:7). It can rule your heart (Col. 3:15). It can be yours in every circumstance (2 Thes. 3:16). Repeatedly, Scripture promises peace to the disciple of Christ.

But our world continually scrambles to find it, much less maintain it. It seeks to achieve peace through alcohol and drugs, firearms, money and things, achievement and success, and other earthly things to plug that void. If at our core we do not fill ourselves with the peace of God, we will find ourselves futilely searching and never finding tranquility and undisturbed calm. Richt was able to smile and be joyful at the press conference that centered around his dismissal. You and I can embrace joy and steadiness in the darkest, most painful, moments of life. We never want false hope or empty peace. But a life directed and submissive to the pure, unadulterated Word and will of God leads to unshakable peace. No matter what comes our way!

Would people say I am serene? What about you?