This story appears in FCA Magazine’s May/June 2017 issue. Subscribe today!
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” – Colossians 3:12 (NIV)
To many sports fans, especially younger ones, Frank Reich is probably not a household name. But it’s one etched into the record books at least a couple times.
Most folks remember Reich for his famous comeback with the Buffalo Bills in the 1993 NFL Playoffs. Trailing the Houston Oilers 35-3 in the second half, Reich (playing quarterback for an injured Jim Kelly) engineered a remarkable 41-38 overtime victory. What many likely don’t remember came years earlier. In 1984, Reich’s Maryland Terrapins trailed the Miami Hurricanes 31-0 at halftime. Coming off the bench, Reich directed his team to a 42-40 win—at the time the largest comeback in NCAA history.
No one thought either of those comebacks were possible. Especially with a backup quarterback under center. But perhaps even more surprising was how Reich handled all the attention following each game. Instead of grabbing the spotlight and taking sole credit for the wins, he thanked God for the opportunity and his teammates for stepping up.
Reich’s humility was shockingly real and refreshing.
In sports and in life, humility is in short supply. Everywhere we look, we’re faced with people who seek the spotlight. Competitors are quick to take credit when things go right. And every level of competition puts the best athletes on pedestals, so they come to expect the love, admiration and status that come with success.
True humility is refreshing. That’s what makes it so remarkable when we see someone at the top of his or her game operating with genuine humility. We truly appreciate when a successful athlete gives credit to coaches, teammates and others, and when they own their mistakes and don’t make excuses when they fail.
Whenever you are striving to be your absolute best, there’s the potential you’ll do some great things. And with that will come attention for your achievement. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In fact, it can be very good thing if handled correctly. The spotlight will become an opportunity for you to tell people what’s most important to you.
Humility is all wrapped up in your motive. Your motive for wanting to win or be the best is either to draw attention to yourself or to bring glory to someone else. Sometimes those two get mixed up or even mixed together. But one thing is certain: Your true motive will always be revealed under the spotlight. When you get attention—for winning or for losing—what comes out of your mouth exposes the motive and condition of your heart.
Sometimes it’s not pretty.
After spending nearly 20 years in the health and fitness industry, I’ve found the pursuit of great health and a fit body to be very similar to the pursuit of athletic achievement. It can easily and quickly become all about “me.” It can be rooted in a desire to look good and get noticed. I call this the “Mirror Effect.” Walk into any gym and you’ll know what I mean. Watch how many people spend much of their time just looking at themselves in the mirror. That can be unhealthy and prideful.
But the pursuit of great health can itself be healthy. It might be to simply be a good steward of the body you’ve been given. It can be to prevent illness, to take care of your body, or to feel fully able to carry out your mission for God with the energy and passion needed. It can also be motivated by a desire to honor God in every aspect of your life.
Your motive matters.
Humility is only possible when your “why” is properly aligned. When the reason you want something is consistent with a pure heart and motive, you’ll naturally show humility whenever you get attention for your achievement, because humility never says “look at me.” It always points to God with thanksgiving.
In Deuteronomy 8:18, we’re reminded to “Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.” This references all the ways God had supernaturally provided for His people and delivered them miraculously along their journey.
God knows we will forget Him and try to take credit for our success, so He warns us to stay in a posture of humility. Every good and perfect gift comes from our Father.
Humility always gives away credit to others who have helped along the way. It realizes that nothing is possible without a community who supports you. Humility never makes excuses or blames others. It always wants the best for others and brings out the best in others. And humility is never threatened by the success of others; instead, it celebrates it!
Let’s check our motives for why we work so hard to be our best. Let’s give thanks to God in all circumstances—the ups and the downs—making sure others see our love for Jesus whether we’re winning or we’re losing.
HONE IN ON HUMILITY:
1. What’s your motive for striving to be your best both on the field and with your health?
2. Do you give God the glory when you get attention?
3. What are some ways you can let your light shine and point to Jesus when the spotlight is on you?