Feb 7, 2013

Hockey Guy

“Hi hockey guy”; she shouted across the store as I pushed my shopping cart through the isle of a local grocery store. She was an employee and saw me as I was doing my weekly grocery shopping.

“I suppose you are happy that the NHL is back up and running again”; she continued as I gathered items into my shopping cart somewhat paying attention to her comments. She said that when the four month long NHL strike had ended and hockey had started back up she knew that I would be happy since that was my sport, my thing; after all, I was “hockey guy”.

My disengaged look seemed to bring some confusion to her; so she asked if she had understood correctly that I played hockey and was somehow involved with coaching. I told her that I did still play, sometimes two times a week and that I did teach kids to skate as well as coaching.

As she continued with the conversation, I realized that this was one of two places where the name “hockey guy” was given to me. The other place was at the gym where Cathy and I work out at several times a week.

It was at the gym that I had first heard that I was affectionately referred to as “hockey guy” by those who didn’t know my name and named me “hockey guy” due to the fact that oftentimes I will turn one of the four TV’s to NHL to watch a game; all twelve months of the year.

It’s not that I was hiding anything about who I was or what I did from fellow gym rats; that had been exposed a little over a year ago after I came back from a long mission trip. When I returned and questions were asked about what I did, which was mostly preaching, some had dubbed me a “man-of-the-cloth”. My secret identity was revealed.

It isn’t that I was embarrassed about what I do, it’s just that as soon as people find out that I am a minister, everything changes. Suddenly conversations are modified and statements are added like, “Oops, I forgot we had a man-of-the-cloth here; so watch your language”. Being “hockey guy” gives a opportunity to get to know people without walls.

“So, what is it that you do?” the employee of the grocery continued with her questions, moving past her original inquiry into my thoughts on the NHL strike ending. I told her that I was a minister and she started asking questions about what specifically I did in ministry.

I told her that besides preaching and pastoral care, my ministry was geared to Pastoring Pastors:
    o   To those who are burned out in ministry
    o   To those who are in a transition in ministry
    o   To those who are in need of Restoration due to failure

After I told her she looked at me and said; “that’s cool!” and dialoged a bit more as to what that practically looks like.

I finished my shopping only to be asked by the cashier if I was going to play hockey in the upcoming “Pond Hockey Tournament”. I told him “no” and he shared how he had some friends coming to the Twin Cities to go to the tournament. I realized that my name as “hockey guy” might be store-wide.

When I heard the second employee at the grocery store make an association with me to hockey, I realized that perhaps I had not fully shared who I was with the employees at this store where I shop every Monday. I realized that perhaps I had only shared a small part of my life. 

I’ll admit that the name “hockey guy” wasn’t without some merit; I play, teach, and coach hockey and I workout to still be able to play hockey at my age. I even have one of my guest rooms dubbed “the hockey room” because of the hockey paraphernalia including around twelve hundred pucks.

But my concern was whether I was going through this life and not sharing the most important part of who I was. My concern was that if I was to die tonight, the sum total of who I was, my epitaph, would be that I was “hockey guy”.

Had I gone to two important places in my life and not even revealed who I was? I don’t mean whether or not people know I am a minister, but that I was a follower of Jesus Christ; that I was a Christian. The most important relationship and place in my life had been foreshadowed by my “love” for hockey.

My real concern is at the end of my days whether or not people who knew me knew that I hung with God, that I spent time with Him. I do not want my epitaph to say that I was “hockey guy”; but rather, that I was a “friend of God”. Oh, that that would be the legacy that I would leave!

“And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.” (James 2:23)

"Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."



1 comment:

  1. Hockey Guy ~ Until your reputation is as bad as Christ's, "a friend to drunkards and tax collectors, and sinners", being "hockey guy" is really not too bad of a legacy. Having that benign reputation gives you an edge, coming into people's lives under radar, theirs ~ and the devil's. Now that they know you are not some kind of religious guru, their defenses are down, their receptivity open. Stay real! Be you!