On March 2, 1962, Wilt Chamberlain made history by scoring one hundred points in a single game. Fifty-nine years later, it remains a feat no one has been able to match. (Kobe Bryant’s eighty-one points against the Raptors in 2006 comes closest).
But while Chamberlain’s unique combination of size and skill played a key role, the help of his teammates often goes underappreciated.
After all, in a team sport like basketball, it’s pretty uncommon for a single player to dominate the ball so absolutely over the course of forty-eight minutes. In addition to going twenty-eight of thirty-two from the free-throw line, Chamberlain attempted eleven more shots than the rest of his team combined: 63 to 52.
Still, from all reports, his teammates were not only OK with their center taking all the shots but actively sought to get him more. When the fourth quarter arrived and the historic achievement was in sight, they started fouling the Knicks on every possession to get the ball back sooner.
When Chamberlain hit his final shot of the night with forty-six seconds remaining, fans stormed the court while he was ushered back to the locker room for the now-famous picture of him holding up a sheet of paper that simply read “100.”
Is it enough when only God notices?
If you can name even a single teammate of Wilt Chamberlain’s on that night, then you’re either an incredible student of basketball lore or you’re lying.
The truth is, eight other guys took the court for the Philadelphia Warriors alongside their star that night, but everyone except Chamberlain finished the game as a vital but obscure footnote to history.
And that’s all right. They helped their teammate accomplish something great, and that is a worthy achievement as well.
I wonder, though, how willing are we to play such a role when the Lord assigns it?
It can be far easier to praise others for accepting their seemingly minor part in accomplishing something great than it is to do so ourselves.
But as Paul describes, “the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body” (1 Corinthians 12:14–20).
The Apostle goes on to point out that God considers those parts of the body that may seem less important “indispensable” and gives “greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another” (vv. 22, 24–25).
As such, the question we’re left to face when tasked with playing a part that only God will notice is whether or not that’s enough.
It should be, and I would imagine most of us would like to say that it is. But, this side of heaven, the longing to be recognized by our peers as well as by God will usually remain.
And that’s all right too. It’s not a sin to want recognition unless we allow that desire to prevent us from accomplishing the work to which we’ve been commissioned. But learning to be content without such recognition can go a long way toward helping us embrace God’s calling on our lives, whatever it may be.
And, if you find yourself playing a more starring role in God’s plans on a given day, be sure to acknowledge and praise those around you who played a part in those achievements.
By letting those around you know how much you value their help, you are not only better protected against the kind of sinful pride that would hoard the glory that belongs to God and that he intends to bestow on the entire body, but you are also positioned to help every member of that body better understand the indispensable role they play in the Lord’s plans.
Ultimately, no one makes history alone. Anyone who has ever accomplished something great was helped along by people the world has long forgotten.
But God hasn’t forgotten the helpers, and learning to be content with his recognition and the knowledge that our role will be remembered long after history has been replaced by eternity can help us embrace whatever part we are called to play.
How well will you play your part today?