They worked hard, stuck together, gave it their all, made mistakes but can be proud of their achievement.

I’m talking of course of the USA football team that exited the World Cup this weekend.

I watched the last-16 game between Ghana and USA with interest. Partly because I wondered what it would be like if England were in that game, partly because of my American links, and partly because I have Landon Donovan in my Fantasy Football team …

In a tense affair, the game had everything; goals, a penalty and lots of close chances.

We should all offer our congratulations to Ghana – what an achievement! They wanted the win, worked for the win and went into celebrations as if they’d won the entire competition!

But for the USA, it’s the prospect of a long journey home. However, they can be proud of what they have achieved as a team.

Topping their group was no mean feat and reaching the knock out stage was never assured them at the beginning of the tournament.

Two things they have shown consistently throughout their matches:

  1. A true team spirit
  2. A never-say-die attitude

We could learn a lot from the esprit de corps that the Americans have shown in this World Cup.

Staying The Course

I was in Sheffield on Saturday with a group of guys from different churches and together we resolved to stand side by side and give it all we’ve got in this life to make Jesus known. To do this we’ll need to show the same characteristics that the Americans portrayed throughout their time in South Africa.

When things don’t look like they’re going well it’s easy and cheap to criticise the failure of those around us in a bid to claim the high ground. In football we can point to other players performances, the coach, the referee or linesmen.

It’s the same for any organisation and especially so for the church. In any group of people derision and infighting can take a team down. So let’s band together, encourage one another, share in the victories and take the losses together.

Back home, the USA might not yet have football fully in it’s blood. They might not yet have shown us what they can produce. But they did play this game of ours well, and in the highest spirit. A beautiful showing of the Beautiful Game.

Their morale resolute, their unity resolved they will learn and grow from this experience and they will be back.

For us our calling is higher than the expectations of a nation. Let us leave our mark on this life in a way worthy of the death of Jesus. That when we reach glory we might do so together as an indefatigable, ragged bunch of guys that truly gave their all in this lifetime.