Back to Basics
In 1961 the Green Bay Packers were leading in the fourth quarter of the championship game for the National Football League. Late in the game, just moments from victory, they squandered the lead and lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. It was heartbreaking to come so close to one of their sport’s highest honors to see it vanish before their eyes. The team spent the off-season nursing their grudges, determining to do better, and wondering what their coach would have planned at the start of the next season to help them improve their game.
Their coach was Vince Lombardi, and he too had been thinking about how to help his team advance their game. His plan, however, was a surprise to members of the Green Bay Packers. On the very first day of training camp, Lombardi walked into the room ready to address his team for the very first time in the season. Standing in the room full of some of the best players in the NFL, he extended his hand that held the oblong leather ball for which his sport was named and declared, “Gentlemen, this is a football.”1David Maraniss, When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi (New York, Simon and
Schuster, 2000), 274. Lombardi then spent the entire season hammering away with his team on the basics of blocking and tackling. The instruction often felt so basic that members of the team would jokingly request that he please slow down. Lombardi was convinced, however, that the path to victory was found in mastering fundamentals that others took for granted. His conviction paid off. Six months later the Packers shut out the New York Giants 37-0 to win the championship game. This now famous account serves as a constant reminder that basics matter.
The Journey Back to Basics
Basics matter in biblical counseling as well as in football. If Lombardi’s journey to recover the basics traced back to the 1961 NFL championship, this journey back to basics goes back to the 2015 annual conference of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). The theme of the conference that year focused on homosexuality. That was the year that Obergefell v. Hodges changed the nationwide landscape of homosexuality and marriage, and many Christian ministries were highlighting the sin of homosexuality. The difference between the ACBC conference and many other Christian conferences, however, had to do with the theme of homosexuality and change. Whereas most of the evangelical conferences on the topic were highlighting the ethics of homosexuality, the ACBC conference was emphasizing ministry to people struggling with homosexuality, and how to help them change.
In preparation for that conference, I engaged in careful research regarding reparative therapy and read numerous resources on the topic. My concern was that even within biblical counseling there was an instinct to engage in integration on this topic and assume that reparative therapy was a biblical rather than secular approach to change. My research on reparative therapy led to many serious concerns about this secular approach to care which I have chronicled in other places. But one of my many concerns was regarding the secular goal of reparative therapy.
To keep reading this essay by Heath Lambert in the Journal of Biblical Soul Care Spring Edition 2023 click here.