Time-outs are crucial in the game of life

There are only 50 seconds left in the first half. The Panthers are behind by six points and they have the ball. A touchdown would send the team into the locker room ahead, with our fickle friend “Momentum” on our side.

The fans are screaming and Cam does what any good quarterback should do: He calls a time-out. That time-out may be one of the most important offensive decisions he will make all day. During the time-out the players take a couple of needed deep breaths, Cam consults with Coach Rivera and everyone is ready.

Cam calls the play and Benjamin goes long. They connect and score. As important as the completed pass was, the key to that successful strategy was the wise use of a time-out. A time-out may be one way of stopping the clock, but its value far exceeds that purpose. And the use of time-outs is far more than a sports strategy.

Through the years I have had a chance to talk with several very successful coaches about how they use time-outs. One well-known college coach described it this way: “(Time-outs) give coaches time to develop and relay strategy to the team in critical situations. It can be used to stop an opponent’s momentum and give one’s team a chance to catch their breath and gain perspective.”

What applies to sports also applies to life in general. Sometimes time-outs take the form of the simple act of rest. Studies show that most people today are operating on less sleep than they need. And then we wonder why we cannot play our best game!

Rest is never the end of the game, just a way of getting back on the field or court. Rest is a means of remaining productive and performing more efficiently. We should never forget that even God rested in the creation account. God sanctified the Sabbath by resting on the seventh day. If God takes a time-out for rest, what does that say to you and me?

Time-outs can also be moments when we step back from the habitual rush so we can gain perspective. It can be a mental and spiritual deep breath that pays huge dividends. It is a time when we consult with our human team and when we pay attention to our Divine Coach.

What do we need to do differently to be more effective? Some decisions have to be made while we are on the move. Others are best made when we stop and think.

Whether on the football field or on the basketball court, you seldom see one player in isolation during the time-out. Teams are almost always together during these moments. It is so easy in any game to assume that we are in it alone. That is not the case. There is always a team and a coach, and a time-out reminds us that we are not alone.

It is a time to take a deep breath, check the game plan, and get a better perspective on the challenge of the moment. Ignore this important strategy and discover the feelings of fatigue, frustration, anger, and oh, yes, loneliness. The game deserves better than that from all of us.