Thursday, July 23, 2020

An Arm-Chair Quarterback

Almost every person in these United States have heard, know, and understand the term “Arm-Chair Quarterback.” A synonym for the ‘arm-chair quarterback’ is a “Monday Morning Quarterback” as both terms means basically the same thing. 

After a little research (very little for sure), I discovered that this is an American born phrase or concept.  The difference in the arm chair and the Monday morning is that the ‘arm-chair’ guy always second guesses the football coach and he does it in ‘real time’, as it happens. The Monday morning guy (and they can be and frequently are the same person) is the one who, on Monday after the action is over, looks back to the game played yesterday and begins to tell how things should have been done, how the game could have been won, and how he would have done it.  Sitting with him and/or watching a ballgame with these guys makes you feel like you are sitting with one who has the knowledge of a Don Shula or Bear Bryant and yet, you know it isn’t so.

Here are a couple of the definitions which I found:

  • An armchair quarterback is someone who offers their advice despite having little or no expertise on the subject, often after the fact.
  • someone who gives opinions about something without having direct knowledge or experience of it
  • An armchair quarterback is someone who offers advice, especially about football, but never shows that they could actually do any better.
  • A Monday morning quarterback is someone who second-guesses a decision someone else has made after the event is finished. A Monday morning quarterback criticizes from the comfort of 20/20 hindsight.
  • some dirt-bag who is certain that he or she can make better decisions than the coaches or players while watching a competitive sport on television.
  • "Armchair quarterback" is an idiom that originated in the United States. It refers to someone who doesn't participate in an action but still makes judgments about it.

Some of those definitions may offend you, but these are simply a selection of definitions I found that others had stated. 

The point is this; it is easy to be an ‘arm chair’ or “Monday-Morning” quarterback, because he/she has ‘no-skin’ in the game.   He has no responsibility, accountability, or answerability.  In other words, the pressure has never been on his shoulders in real time.  He never had to tell the front office why he called that play or made that decision.  In fact, it’s fun being an arm-chair or Monday Morning quarterback ‘know it all’ because, unless and until your friends get tired of it and call you out on it, everything goes your way.

Every position of leadership has the potential of hearing from ‘arm-chair’ or “Monday-Morning” people who always know better and have the answer for everything.  Whether you are President, Pastor, Priest, CEO, entrepreneur, business owner, doctor, lawyer, or well – just about anything else, someone is going to be there to second guess you.  Sad as it is, it must be human-nature.

Personally (and yes, this is simply my opinion), on a National Scale, the President has been thrust into a situation which no one has ever experienced and it seems that he has the wrong people advising him.  After all, he has top military leaders, top medical professional, and other top leaders to assist him in making decisions which impact ALL AMERICANS.  I have been thinking lately that maybe he should fire the experts and hire the x-reporters (I say X-reporters as it appears there are few true reporters left in our land) because they seem to have all the answers.  Has the President made every decision perfectly? No, he like everyone of us, human.  He responds to the information brought to him by the EXPERTS in their field.  But the decision is still his.  For all his faults and failures, I have a deep belief that HE LOVES America and Americans, and wants to make the best decisions that he can.  It is HIS RESPONSIBILITY and not the responsibility of either political party. 

Governors all across this lands are charged with a similar responsibility and have been placed in a similar situation, just on a smaller scale.  Do I understand the decisions made by these leader? Nope, but for me to second guess them and undermine their leadership violates advanced citizenship.  I heard a disturbing defense of rioters and looters today by someone which, from his words, appears to not really believe in law and order in America.  How disturbing and disheartening.  Until recently America has been a country rooted in law and order which brings civility.  The current climate in urban American seems to not desire that kind of society any longer.   I pray daily for my children, grandchildren, and those who come later.

While these two areas (National & State) are out of my area of expertise, I now come to the very reason I began writing this piece.  And that is the CHURCH.  Not just the CHURCH, BUT HIS CHURCH.  The number of ‘arm-chair’ and “Monday-morning” quarterbacks which I have seen and am seeing these days are alarming.  Certainly Pastors are not infallible, a fact which every ‘God-called’ man I know will easily and readily admit.  But one thing is certain, when time on earth has passed and eternity has begun, it will not be the men’s group, the lady’s group, the group who had and gave the most money, the deacons, nor even the group who had garnered the most power because they garnered the most followers, who will be responsible, accountable, and answerable, for the church, it will be the Pastor. 

Yet, within the Southern Baptist Church, the easiest thing to do is be a ‘arm-chair’ or “Monday-Morning” quarterback, no responsibility, no accountability, and no answerability, just second-guessing.  This is not speaking of the healthy interaction and interchange between pastors and lay-leaders to find a church’s way forward under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, rather it is about undermining the Biblical authority and responsibility a pastor has before God.  It is easy to second guess any and every decision he may make, when the unltimate and eternal fallout doesn’t fall on your shoulders.  Let is illustrate:

Many years ago, a man who was a friend came into my office to tell me how to handle a particularly sensitive issue with which I had been struggling .  My friend was well known, well liked, and possessed much influence in the church.  After he made the ‘suggestion’ of what I should do, I responded, “You tell me what I should do and I’ll do it.  But know this, when we have to stand before the congregation and tell them what we did and why, you are going to stand next to me in front of the congregation and tell them that I followed your directions.”   My friend paused, smiled, and said, “Maybe we should give it a little more time.” 

To all who might read this blog, I pray that we will become prayerful encouragers instead of quarterback who are not in the game.  It will honor our Lord and His gospel.

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