Recently the Oklahoma Sooners played the Texas Longhorns. The OU quarterback Spencer Rattler was benched in 2nd quarter, because he was playing a little reckless. Coach Lincoln Riley said that he sat him out so that he would calm down and settle into playing the offense and just playing the game like he knew how. It was really interesting to watch this game and watch this play out. I was thinking to myself this is a bold move to bench a top notch player like Spencer. Would this ruin him mentally? Would this make him not be confident enough to play again. After half time Spencer Rattler started and the OU Sooners won in 4OT. What??? How is this possible?
I’ve been benched metaphorically and literally a couple different times in my life. In high school I was the only freshman in my class to make the varsity basketball team that would end up going to the state quarterfinals that year. I didn’t play much, but I made the team. As a sophomore I had a starting position on the team that would end up going to the state finals. One of the first games of my sophomore year the ball came to me at the top of the key at the three point line as I came off of a screen. I was open, so of course I let the ball fly. This was my moment. Until it wasn’t. I completely air balled the shot. It was an away game so the stadium erupted shouting air ball….air ball… I was completely demoralized. 16 year old high school kid and I totally air balled that shot. I was pulled from the game immediately and benched so that I would calm down. For some reason I cracked mentally after that moment in my career. I was weak mentally and didn’t have the ability to break out of that mindset for the rest of my time in high school. I would go on to sit the bench as a senior. I was the only freshman to make the team in my class to a senior that didn’t even play. I didn’t get worse. I was one of the hardest workers on the team, working out, running in season and in the off season, and practicing all the time. I just cracked mentally and couldn’t pull myself together.
After graduating high school I thought I was done with that perspective and mindset that I had. But, no it kept popping up. It kept coming up for the next decade. It followed me around and put me in a really dark place. I had a hard time believing in myself. I had a hard time believing I had purpose, worth, or that God could use me. I found myself in addiction. I lacked any focus, direction or commitment in my life. Literally for 10 years I kind of just floundered around. I managed to still find opportunities, they just weren’t what they could have been.
I found some quick success as a pastor. Within my first year or so I was given the opportunity to lead from stage on the weekend. One week I was supposed to practice what I was going to say from stage that weekend. I came in a little unprepared, and extremely insecure. Recently we had two new additions to our team that were incredible stage communicators. Needless to say the thoughts of not being good enough of course popped up and I cracked. I didn’t perform under pressure, similar to my sophomore year playing basketball. I got pulled from stage that weekend and lost my position as one of the main stage communicators. This triggered all those old memories and thoughts about myself that I thought were gone. They weren’t. They were still there.
A year later, I dropped the ball leading through some things that I wasn’t bold enough to lead in. A lot of the reasons I wasn’t leading boldly were because of all this doubt in my self and lack of self worth and understanding who I was. I was demoted in leadership and had to give up my position and my role. I was moved to another role across the city in the same organization. It was the most humbling/humilating experience. All of my peers and friends saw this happen.
I had a choice in that moment. I could choose to continue to believe those lies. I could let it take me back down a deep dark spiral. I could find myself back in addiction. I could focus on myself and how I’m not worth anything. I could let it take me out of the game, losing my job, my calling, my wife, and my purpose. Or, I could get some help. I chose this time to try to do things a little differently. I was meeting with a mentor regularly and he said something that I will never forget. “Ryan, you have two choices. You can hang your head low and feel sorry for yourself, which will probably lead you off the team. Or, you decide today that you are going to accept your circumstances for what they are and move on.”
I decided to move on. It was probably one of the most difficult seasons I’ve ever walked through, but I kept marching on. I decided to get some help working through the negative mindsets and lies I was believing about myself. I met with my mentor regularly. I began writing and/or reading “I am….something positive” statements daily. I started seeing a counselor to get the professional help I needed. I worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my life. I kept myself in the game. I showed up early in the office. I would work late. I would put my hand in the air for opportunities. I kept playing. I found myself getting promoted back to my previous position in 4 months and then given two more promotions within 2 years.
Why am I telling you this? Is there a lie you are believing about yourself that’s not true, that’s taken you out of the game? Maybe it’s time to reframe your mindset. Maybe it’s time to get a mentor that will point you in the right direction. Maybe it’s time to speak truth over yourself daily. Or maybe it’s time to get the professional help that you need. Don’t spend a decade of your life floundering in life keeping yourself from opportunities and influence that is right there at your fingertips. It’s time to get back in the game and win, even if it’s the fourth OT. Use the bench to reframe your mindset and then get back in the game. Let’s go!
About the Author
Ryan Westrup is a pastor and leader who has been empowered to empower. You can read more of his blogs at https://ryandwestrup.wixsite.com/website.