We often refer to our teammates as "brothers" and the relationship we have with those who go to battle with us on the field of play can be a strong bond. It is one which is born out of the trials of practice and forged in games.
Teams start as a collection of individuals with different goals and desires. They certainly have different strengths and weaknesses and the one thing which draws them together is a common goal.
The next stage in the development process is a level of friendship among the players. This is the stage where they are assessing one another. Is this someone I can trust? Is this someone who will work to make us better? Is this someone I can go to battle with and will have my back?
Finally, in some seasons it reaches a place where the bond reaches beyond casual friendship and develops into what I would classify as a brotherhood.
It is written in Proverbs,
"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Proverbs 17:17
True friendship which forges the bonds of brotherhood is caring for your teammate regardless of their circumstance. I have heard it said you can not discern who your friends are in times of prosperity.
God tells us the same. We will know who true friends are when they come alongside us while others are jumping off the ship of friendship.
A brother looks beyond your weaknesses and sins to encourage you when you are down. They hold you accountable for your actions but do not judge. They have taken the time to know your heart and are not swayed by the whims of public opinion, hearsay and gossip.
You know you are a brotherhood as a team when players who have different perspectives can come together in times of adversity and stand alongside their teammates.
In a culture which is filled with the temporal, where the court of public opinion wields an unforgiving sword, it is a brother who will take the time to discern what is truth and what is fiction. It is a brother who will love you unconditionally as Christ so loves us. It is a brother who you can trust to give you measured council because you do not have to question their motives.
I grew up without a biological brother but have been blessed to have three sons. They are truly brothers in every sense of the word. You can see the love they have for each other and it is a bond which no one will be able to break. They laugh like brothers, fight like brothers and when one of them is struggling the other is there to pick them up.
As a coach, it is my prayer each season our players will develop into a team which goes beyond friendship and develops into a brotherhood. Each season has it's own adversity and that adversity either separates the players or brings them together.
On the way to our first state title the adversity was injuries and youth. We started 1-3 but I watched as the brotherhood developed and worked its magic.
God calls us to be parts of different teams in life and to be a brother or sister. This often means setting aside personal aspirations to care for our teammate. I pray we forever seek to be a brother or sister on the teams to which God has called us.