“But the greatest paradox of the sport has to do with the psychological makeup of the people who pull the oars. Great oarsmen and oarswomen are necessarily made of conflicting stuff – of oil and water, fire and earth. On the one hand, they must possess enormous self-confidence, strong egos, and titanic willpower. They must be almost immune to frustration. Nobody who does not believe deeply in himself or herself – in his or her ability to endure hardship and to prevail over adversity – is likely even to attempt something as audacious as competitive rowing at the highest levels. The sport offers so many opportunities for suffering and so few opportunities for glory that only the most tenaciously self-reliant and self-motivated are likely to succeed at it. And yet, at the same time – and this is key – no other sport demands and rewards the complete abandonment of the self the way that rowing does. Great crews may have men or women of exceptional talent or strength; they may have outstanding coxswains or stroke oars or bowmen; but they have no stars. The team effect – the perfectly synchronized flow of muscle, oars, boat, and water; the single, whole, unified, and beautiful symphony that a crew in motion becomes – is all that matters. Not the individual, not the self.” – Daniel James Brown in The Boys in the Boat, a story of the 1936 Olympic rowing team from Washington.
As I read this description I couldn’t help but notice the striking similarity to pastoring or being part of the church and laboring together for the glory of Christ. Less self-confidence and more Christ-confidence. But no stars, all winning together.