Monday, August 13, 2012

Humble Heroes

With the end of the Olympics and the PGA Championship, yesterday was a big sports day in Teagarden Casa for sure.  I do not consider myself a huge sports fan--my level of involvement is more a function of coming alongside my husband to enjoy the things he enjoys.  I do love golf though--playing it and watching it.  I am a die hard Phil Mickelson fan and have always appreciated that he not only has true skill at his game, but he has a heart of humility, is a true family man, and from what I have seen, seems to be a man of integrity (a trifecta that is rarely seen in a lot of big-name athletes).

After all the exciting events, moments, and media hype, the one thing that always stands out to me regarding the celebration of the winners, is the attitudes of those winners.  Regardless of who wins, what countries they are representing, or for which sports or events they've just won, if the victors display any attitudes of pride, arrogance, or gloating, I just feel sick.  My level of joy for them deflates rapidly.  On the flip side, if the winners shows humility, sincerity, and gratitude to those who supported them and aided them to this path of success (namely, to God), I usually find myself welling up with tears at the great value those particular athletes properly place on others who helped them "arrive."  It is just a neat thing to see.  We saw both ends of that spectrum throughout the three weeks of watching the Olympics.  I don't have to mention any names, but there was one athlete in particular from Jamaica who gloated disgustingly every time he won.  It was just unreal to me that anyone could be that openly boastful (and that misguided in their perceptions of reality).  Compared to one US runner who ran on a broken leg just so his relay team could qualify and so he wouldn't let them down, this Jamaican victor seemed so unworthy of his medals.  Humility and understanding WHO gives you the gifts you have are two very crucial elements in being a good winner and a truly successful person--a winner who not only gains the gold or the trophy, but gains the hearts of the onlookers around him/her.

Yesterday, Rory Mcllroy, a 23-year old from Northern Ireland, won the PGA Championship in Kiawah Island, SC.  He not only blew the competition away with a commanding win, but displayed such sincere gratitude, humility, and grace upon winning.  As an only child, his parents worked hard to give him every opportunity to learn and hone his skills which they saw him display at a young age.  They even worked multiple jobs to be able to afford for Rory to play in worldwide tournaments throughout his youth in order that he would have every chance to grow and compete against other gifted young golfers.  When he is interviewed, he almost always gives credit to his parents for all they sacrificed for him and he is always sincerely grateful for his victories, never gloating that he "deserved" the win, or bragging that he has proven himself to be "the best."  It is a true delight to revel in the winnings of athletes such as Rory, who not only have a great story, but who have the right attitude and heart to boot.

Last week, I had the awesome privilege of attending a two-day Leadership Summit Conference with the two Worship Arts Pastors of my church.  They have been training me and having me join them in leading worship at Topeka Bible Church for the past year or so.  At this conference, we learned from nearly every speaker that all truly great leaders have one thing in common--humility.  We visited about the things we learned over the lunch break each day, and discussed this idea of humility at one point.  Our Women's Ministry Leader said that she once heard humility defined as, "confidence properly placed."  I love that definition because when Christ calls us to be humble, He doesn't mean for us to be weak or down on ourselves to the point that we have a negative opinion of our own abilities.  Doing so would be insulting Him, the Author of those abilities. He simply wants us to realize from where our abilities come and to view others as more important than ourselves, considering their wants and needs over our own.  I think of Romans 12:3 which says, "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you."  Likewise, in Philippians 2:3-4, the Bible states, "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."  I also think of James 1:17 which says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights..."  Obviously, it is God Who gives us anything good that we have--whether it be a gift or talent, material wealth, health, or any provision.  When we succeed at anything, or if we have been blessed with any particular gift(s), we must remember and embrace these verses, realizing the Author of our gifts and blessings, as well as, those who have encouraged, supported and sojourned with us to this path of success.  If we do, we will not only be humble leaders, but truly good winners, as well.