As fans of Clemson Tigers, my family really enjoyed the National Championship game after a great season. Finishing 15-0, ACC champions, CFP Champions, beating Notre Dame (30-3) in the semifinal, and then beating Alabama (44-16) in the final game was an incredible list of accomplishments.
The mid-season had its fair share of uncertainties. Dabo chose freshman Trevor Lawrence to start over senior Kelly Bryant because he thought he would be needed if they got to a moment like this. Turned out he was right.
But I couldn’t rest in the game.
- As a Clemson fan, I remembered the moments of “Clemsoning” all too well.
- As a fan when your team is playing Alabama, I remembered too many halftime adjustments that caused the Tide to come back for me to breathe easy.
As the game progressed and the lead extended, my family kept asking, “Do you think we have it yet? Do you think we will pull it out?”
It was much later into the night before I felt confident. Why? Because I have seen the dominance of Bama. I remembered what they did to Georgia after the half last year. I remembered the surprise they gave to Clemson three years ago. As the halftime began last night, ESPN interviewed Dabo Swinney heading into the locker room. Looking like he was heading for a victory, he stated:
“There’s nothing less important than the score at halftime.”
Whether that quote was on the spot or remembrance of that line as an Andy Andrew quote, Dabo said it well. Yes, they were up, but this was Bama. Yes, Bama was down, but the last 2 national championships that Alabama won was due to halftime adjustments and surprises. All that had to take place was Clemson to make some mistakes and the Tide would have come rushing back.
There’s nothing less important than the score at halftime.
While the second half fared well for the Tigers, Dabo’s perspective was spot on. He told his team that the score was 0-0 starting the second half. Even if you are leading or trailing at halftime of anything, there’s just as much time on the other side of the clock for it to change dramatically.
I say that as encouragement to many of you who are at a halfway point in life: there’s nothing less important than the score at halftime.
Leading at Halftime
Are you winning now? That’s great. Don’t get complacent. Don’t get prideful. Don’t get entitled.
Many people who fall apart do so later in life because they think they are untouchable. By making it through some of the challenging times, they assume that they are guaranteed victory. It’s not so. The mid-life crisis for many men and women is getting older and older all the time. Just because you made it over some hurdles does not guarantee you can make it over the last ones.
Trailing at Halftime
Do you feel defeated heading to the locker room? Are you unsure any halftime speech can fire you up enough to get back in the game?
Realize this – There’s still enough time and enough opportunity to get you out of this mess that got you into this mess. The game isn’t over. Time is still left. If you feel like you have made so many mistakes that the challenge is insurmountable, I disagree. You can still make a comeback.
It’s Not About How You Start
When I was in college, I read a book by Steve Farrar entitled Finishing Strong. His premise in the book is how many Christian men start well in life but fail to finish strong.
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve had a great start in the Christian life or a rough one. It doesn’t matter if you’ve stumbled time and again, or even fallen flat on your face. What matters most in this all-important race of life is how you finish.”
It’s not about how you start but about how you finish.
- If you feel like you have dominated your first half, be careful because pride comes before the fall (Prov. 16:18).
- If you feel like you have lost the ability to compete after your first half performance, realize that God has promised that He will finish what He started (Phil. 1:6).
If you are at halftime, realize that there is still more game to play. Make adjustments and get back out there.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.