What Football Playoffs Teach Me About Ministry

kaerpnick interceptionHaving lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for much of my life, you can bet that I was excited about the National Football League’s NFC Divisional Playoff game this past Saturday (January 12, 2013) between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers.

The 49ers ended up receiving at the beginning of the first half. On the second offensive play of the game, San Francisco’s quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, threw an interception that was ran back by the Packers for a touchdown.

I was worried. I know how important morale and momentum can be in any sport. Starting off the game with an interception turned touchdown is one of the worst ways to start a game.

Would this be a sign of what was to come for the 49ers that day? It’s not that I didn’t have faith in my 49ers. It’s just that I was worried about a young quarterback and the team, slightly questioning if they would allow this massive failure (in football, anyway) to determine the pace of the rest of the game.

Thankfully for me and all the San Francisco 49ers fans, the 49ers ended up winning the playoff game and moving on to the NFC Championship game.

The next day, as I was watching the halftime show for the other NFC Divisional Playoff game (Seattle Seahawks versus Atlanta Falcons), the halftime hosts had an exclusive interview with Kaepernick.

The first question the hosts asks Kaepernick was this: “what did (head coach) Harbaugh say to you when you came to the sideline after that interception and TD?”

Kaepernick has a great head coach. His coach said: “It’s still early.”

To Kaepernick, that was all he needed to get back into the game. With the help of his head coach, Kaepernick kept a good attitude and made sure that the first two minutes of the game did not effect the rest of the game.

That’s the type of attitude we need to have as ministry leaders. Failure isn’t fatal. Failure is a step on the journey. Sometimes, that journey leads to victory, like it did for the San Francisco 49ers that day. Other days, it leads to a loss.

However, it is through loss that we learn the most.

Question: When you have an early failure, what is your response? Who do you have on the sidelines that remind you that it’s still early in the game?

John Rinaldo

As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.


John Rinaldo


As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.



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