"Let's see now. There was one other thing." That's the way he put it. It was seven years ago, and I still remember it. I was standing over there at basketball practice in the Ambassador College gymnasium, and after an hour and a half we were ready to go home. We were tired, tired of listening, tired of working and ready to go. But he turned to us and said, "Let's see now, there was one other thing." It was funny the way he put it. It seemed as though he almost forgot to tell us. But by doing that he caught my interest.
One more thing
"There was one other thing," he said, "poise." Poise? Ballerinas have poise. I'm a big, tough basketball player. What do I need poise for? At the time we were in a special practice between the juniors and the seniors of that year, preparing for the upper class game against Big Sandy (Tex.) during the middle break in classes. We had just gone through a grueling practice before the big game, scheduled for the next day. And finally, at the very end, he said there was one other thing. Coach Jim Petty took about 20 seconds and talked about poise. That talk affected me more — in that 20 seconds — than the whole hour and a half before it. And the next day I played my all-time best game. And I did it trying something new, going through the whole hour with a disciplined mental attitude. Poise. Poise is the ability to maintain your emotional, psychological and physical equilibrium under stress to be in the clutch and stay cool.
Christians need poise
Christians need poise too. But I've seen us lose our poise at times. Sometimes we lose our ability to look at a trial with God's Holy Spirit, to face it as a trial that has to be overcome. The Bible talks about poise. It doesn't use that word. But in Galatians 5, it mentions the fruits of God's Holy Spirit. It says the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and poise. Well, temperance includes poise anyway. It's the ability to stay on balance. And that is a gift of God's Holy Spirit. When you get so emotionally involved that the control of your mind is no longer your reason, tempered by God's Holy Spirit, but is instead the adrenalin in your system almost demanding you to lose your head and cry out in some temper outburst, then you are going to sin. "Wherefore my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God" (Jas. 1:19-20). When you rely on your own human emotion you're going to make a mistake. That's why our coach said, "one more thing." The game might get hard. You might get discouraged and let down. But don't get excited and go berserk. What has your attitude been during the recent trial God's Church has gone through? If you've lost your poise during the receivership and allowed your emotions to rule your mind, then you've been exposed to Satan's attitudes.
Help and encourage others
In II Corinthians 2:7, Paul talks about a man whom he had put out of the Church for committing fornication. "So that contrariwise you ought rather to forgive him and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." He said I want you to go to this man and to comfort him, and I want you to make sure that his sorrow — his emotion — doesn't get the best of him. That he doesn't lose control of himself by losing poise. "Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also; for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices." One of the devices of Satan is to pick on you when you are vulnerable, when you are no longer acting out of a rational mind with God's Spirit guiding you. But rather you're acting out of the base, human emotions.
How do you react?
Not everyone loses their poise in the same way. Using our basketball example, let's say you're a player, and you see that you are 30 points behind with 5 minutes to go. You're tempted to go down and take a shower, but you want to hang in there. So you stick it out. Another player in the same situation might become totally disoriented and freeze up. He forgets the plays. When he's supposed to dribble he shoots, and when he's supposed to shoot he dribbles. His emotions are not under control. On the other hand, there's the fellow who believes he's the answer to Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and he knows he alone can save the game. He starts foaming at the mouth, jumps out of bounds, throws the ball in to himself and goes leaping and hopping down the court like a cross between Daffy Duck and an ostrich. He fires the ball at the basket from 50 feet out and drinks the water for all five guys. That is not poise. It is unadulterated vanity. Then there's the guy who looks poised and confident when actually, he's scared to death. He's too afraid to look at the scoreboard, fearing his team might be behind. He is avoiding stress, not maintaining his poise.
Hard to admit error
What happens when you lose your poise? Most of the time you want to place the blame somewhere else. It's hard to say, "Look, I made a mistake, I'll do better next time." The easy thing is to start spreading rumors and slandering your teammates or your brothers in God's Church. When trials come upon the Church or upon us as individuals, we should go into an enforced calm, as one man put it recently. We should do as Paul exhorted in Philippians 1:27: "Let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel: And in nothing terrified by your adversaries." If we are constantly poised, if we constantly have that peace of God spoken of in Philippians 4:7, then our attitude can be much like the apostle Paul's in II Corinthians 4: "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed" (II Cor. 4:8-9).
One other thing — poise
It was seven years ago that we had that basketball practice. And you know the funny thing about it is, that I don't remember anything about the practice. And I don't remember anything at all about the game. I don't even remember if we won or lost. All I remember is what Coach Petty said. Because it had such a big impact on me. I think it applies during this time of trial. He told us to have poise. We've heard various sermons, and we'll hear more about pulling all of the weapons of our warfare out that are mentioned in Galatians 5, and we should use them all. The fruits of the Spirit and our weapons are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, gentleness, faith and meekness. And there's one other thing, poise.