Las Vegas Golden Knights: a tale of redemption and caution
Ever since it became clear that the NHL expansion franchise the Las Vegas Golden Knights were not going to be nearly as bad as many folks predicted (they are currently 3 wins away from a Stanley Cup championship for which they were 500-1 odds, i.e. just being this far is incredible) I have thought of their Cinderella story as a beautiful tale of redemption. Here are a bunch of cast-offs, players whose teams couldn’t be bothered to protect them in the draft playing for the Stanley Cup while their original teams are golfing.
If you’re not familiar with the system perhaps a word of explanation is in order. Each team in the NHL could protect a certain number of players on their roster, the rest were up for grabs and the Golden Knights were to take one player from every team in the league. These are hard-working men who have committed to hone their skills and use them for teams who seemed to have faith in them and a willingness to develop them. Then came the day they were no longer wanted, or at least, no longer considered key pieces.
The Golden Knights were not expected to be a great team, I remember well the Ottawa Senators first season, I think they won 10 games out of 82! Las Vegas lead their division and won 51 games, in their first season as a team. I love the story of redemption, the way the team has come together, the passion and drive the players have to prove their old teams wrong, that they are good and worthwhile players, players you can build around, more valuable than anyone realized (except maybe the GM and coach of the Knights).
Thinking more about it though, I cannot help but wonder if there is an important lesson for churches in all of this. Part of their success has been that many players are being asked to fill roles they have never filled before. To score goals, to defend against top players and so on. They are applying their skills in new ways as they are being asked to. I wonder how much talent and skill is sitting under the noses of church leaders and going either unused or misused? Who in our pews would we leave unprotected in an expansion draft? It sounds funny but a church plant might be a good example, who would you be willing to give up to support a church plant? How can we better develop them? How can we more appropriately invite them into deeper lives of faith and community in ways that are fulsome, that recognize who they are and what they are capable of? Classically we know it is very important to have everyone “in the right seat on the bus,” are we confident we are doing this well? The Golden Knights are a living, breathing, winning, example of this principle.
Where is God at work in your congregation? Where is he preparing someone for a task that only they can do? Where is he waiting for you to notice the 500-1 odds adventure that he has for you? If you are like me you will be fascinated to see if this plucky group of cast-offs can do the impossible, and if you are like me you will wonder what impossible you are being called to in life or as a congregation. May God guide your discernment and clear your paths!