We all know what it means.
You are on the team but you don’t have the same amount of ability or appeal as others, a.k.a. the A Team, hence, you are on the B Team. If you’ve spent any amount of time on a B Team you know it comes with very mixed emotions. You’re grateful to be a part of something that is good and important to you. You are happy to work hard, in fact most B Team players work harder than anyone; but it can be accompanied by feelings of not being enough or being side stepped and it stings. And you get stung when you’re on the B Team.
Lately, I’ve been thinking back to a time in my life when I felt consistently passed over for opportunity, at least it really appeared that way. Hungry to build an inspiring career, I did what I could to have good experiences with others and tried to create a lasting impression. You know, stuff our parents told us about when we began working, the stuff we tell our kids to do now. I wanted integrity and I wanted to feel like I was on the A Team. Then, I would be successful.
My season in that place came and went. I never got on the A Team or at least I never felt like I was. Through the years sadness and regret lingered because of it, until I began taking a closer look at something Jesus said.
It was a story that seemed to be about the B Team. (Click here to read it.)
This is how it went.
There once was a father with two sons. The younger was arrogant and selfish. The older was loyal and hard working. One day the younger son comes to the father and essentially says, I wish you were dead. Give me my inheritance now so I can live as I please. This younger son clearly felt staying at home was being forced to play on the B Team and he deserved to be on the A Team. He felt he did not belong where he was. The heart broken father knew his sons heart was hard and there would be no persuading him to stay or to change. So he gave him the inheritance and let him go.
Not long after, the younger son had squandered all of his money in senseless and numbing ways. Not only did his economic situation change, the entire regional economy had changed and he began to starve. He was definitely not on the A Team now. Worse yet, there were no other A Team players willing to help him out. He was now one of the desperate ones, something he never thought he’d be. He had no choice but to go back home and beg to be one of his fathers servants.
Before he could even reach the house, his father see’s his son returning from a long way off. The father forgets everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. He runs to embrace him. He throws the biggest party celebrating the homecoming of his youngest son.
Meanwhile, the older brother gets word about this and he’s ticked off. He knows his younger brother doesn’t deserve this kind of attention. He deserves to be forgotten for all time. How could his father celebrate him after all he’s done to them? The older brother is so angry he won’t even cross the threshold of the door where the party was being held.
The father learns his older son has arrived and is saddened that he will not join them. Relationships had been fractured. He goes out to meet with him, to plead with him. The older son begins complaining about how he worked for the father for years with great diligence and loyalty and he feels slighted by this extravagant party. He’s done everything he could to please his father and earn his good graces, why had he never been given a party like this? He didn’t want to be there. He no longer felt he belonged.
His mind must have mingled with thoughts like:
- Am I not good enough?
- Do I not do a good job?
- Does my father not like me?
- Does my father like my brother better than me?
The older son clearly felt the sting of the B Team.
The story ends this way. There is no resolve for the older brother. We do not know if the younger brother remains grateful and faithful. We only know the father was happy that his younger son was home.
This ending is so normal and painfully real.
Part of being a human is experiencing relational anger, wounds, confusion and envy. We don’t just get happy because our brother isn’t embarrassing the family any more. Our soul holds every bit of hurt, distrust and rage when relationships spiral’s downward.
And that is normal.
I think Jesus was using a very real world scenario to help us explore an invitation from God.
The father responds to his older son. Words exploding with meaning and significance. My son you are always with me, everything I have is yours.
There never was a B Team.
If the older son had wanted a big party, the father would have given it to him. Every good thing that father had available to him was also accessible to his older son. But the older son just didn’t know it. He didn’t believe it.
The sins of the younger brother affected the older brother. The acceptance and reclamation of the younger son by the father, also impacted him. Self-doubt, insecurity, feelings of insignificance, jealousy, anger and loss of compassion had emerged. When the father wrapped himself around the broken and hungry younger brother, it made the older brother question his own value to his father. Jealousy rumbled. It made him long for the attention and celebration his younger brother was now receiving.
Tough things that happen in relationships can cause difficulty, chaos and confusion. Patience and a willingness to wait, allow emotions time to settle. Time to become ready for healing, reconciliation or restored relationship. The father pleaded with his older son to become ready. Ready to face his pain and move into freedom. His emotions were raw and unfiltered. The father welcomed his son’s pain and gave it a soft place to land.
This story paints a beautiful picture of how God understands the emotional, mental, physical and relational twists and turns that happen to us. He does not disparage either humanity’s grievousness or the pain that comes from being wounded by those we love. He understands that often times the ways we relate in our circumstances and with one another, we inadvertently lose our self-esteem and sense of worth. He welcomes our brokenness and gently invites our hearts back home. Back to the place where it’s spoken until we believe once again, THERE IS NO B TEAM.
We always belong and have a safe place to wrestle with the difficulties of being human. When we feel we’ve slipped onto the B Team of life God reminds us that you are always with me and everything I have is yours.
This story is about two broken brothers who feel trapped by the B Team, that their worth and happiness are threatened because they don’t believe they belong. This story is also about a loving father who wants his sons to know they have been on the A Team all along and with him THERE IS NO B TEAM.