Two excerpts from C. J. Mahaney on humble athletes:
When Chad and I watch a game together, I am on the lookout for ways to teach him. I want to equip him to discern true greatness in the eyes of God. True greatness, according to the Savior, is serving others for the glory of God. It is defined for us in Mark 10:43–44: “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.”
Nowhere is the word great mentioned more often in our culture than in the context of professional sports. If you watch any game this weekend and listen to the announcer’s commentary, then like a mantra you’ll probably hear the word great repeated throughout—great, great, great. Yet it may well be that nowhere in our culture is the absence of true greatness more evident than in professional sports.
Now, I’m not opposed to professional sports. I’m a longtime fan of the Washington Redskins and the Washington Wizards. But I hope I’m a theologically informed and discerning fan. And I want to teach my son to be as well.
So I never watch a game passively. I’m never just observing. Not only do I always have the remote ready to change the channel when a commercial comes on, I seek to draw Chad’s attention to any evidence of humility or unselfishness I observe, as well as any expression of arrogance or selfishness. I will celebrate the former and ridicule the latter. For, more than anything, I want my son to celebrate and pursue true greatness in the eyes of God.
So how is humility expressed on the field? Here’s a profile of the humble athlete:
- The Humble Athlete Recognizes His Limitations . . . .
- The Humble Athlete Welcomes Critique and Correction from Coaches and Teammates . . . .
- The Humble Athlete Acknowledges the Contributions of Others . . . . A humble athlete who scores doesn’t dance in the end zone by himself as if no one else was involved in the play. Instead, he acknowledges that his team made the score possible. . . . [T]here is something about soccer that I find very strange. When a player scores a goal, he runs as hard as he can away from his teammates, who then run as fast as they can after him! The striker then retreats to a corner of the field, by himself, to receive the crowd’s applause. This tradition is not just odd. It’s ugly. This looks like nothing more than pride in action. This is not how a humble athlete glorifies God. . . .
- The Humble Athlete Is Gracious in Defeat and Modest in Victory . . . .
- The Humble Athlete Honors His Coach . . . .
- The Humble Athlete Respects Officials . . . .
- The Humble Athlete Gives Glory for All His Athletic Accomplishments to God . . . .
Here’s how to be a servant-athlete (p. 37, numbering added):
- Encourage Your Teammates . . . .
- Put the Team’s Interest ahead of Your Own
Related: Media from the “Don’t Waste Your Sports” website.