My son is a natural in sports. He’s nine and the envy of all sports dads, in every sport, because he just gets it. It doesn’t matter what sport it is, if he’s seen it played, he picked up most of the skill just by watching, and all you have to do is help him to know when to use it, and refine what he knows. When he was four or five, he watched a 45 minute skateboarding video, went outside and landed an ollie on his first try! His first year of wrestling, he lost one match, and that was at the state level. Soccer, we just stood by with our jaws hanging as he maneuvered past the other team with ease and scored time after time like a one-man show. This year, he decided to try basketball. His first game was last Friday and his team won 17-14. My son made 13 of their points, and his second shot was a three-pointer! Yeah, I’m bragging. My mom is probably rolling her eyes right now. I do have a point to all this, though.
We were in the car this afternoon and he was telling his sister about the game. How all our family was there cheering him on, and his teammates were begging the coach to put him in, and he said, “Oh my gosh, my head almost exploded!” I was floored! We’d never actually discussed pride and arrogance, but you can’t watch the kid play sports and not see the way he thinks of himself. Much like I do, he thinks an awful lot of his abilities. He’s probably more proud of himself than I am … maybe. But without knowing the clichés about “big-headedness”, he recognized the ultimate danger: his head was going to explode.
Obviously, this was a perfect, humbling opportunity for a life-lesson with one finger pointing forward and three pointing back at me. I told him why it felt like that, and explained what pride was and the danger of allowing it to build up. Then we talked about how he could safeguard himself from losing his head. I said, “you simply deflate by redirecting the praise. Who deserves praise?” He said, “Jesus.” And so I said, “so you give Him the praise and glory for your abilities. Thank Him for making things so easy for you to understand and apply. Don’t internalize it. Don’t allow it to build up inside of you. Just pass it on to Him.”
What a great word! What an amazing truth! From the mouths of babes, nonetheless. You know, God gives us all talents and abilities, and even the means to use them, and so many times, when others acknowledge our abilities and talents and praise them, we accept their praise and keep it all for ourselves. We allow it to build up inside of us until we really think we are someone, and our heads get huge. And whether we recognize it or not, our heads sometimes get so big, we are in danger of exploding. It’s messy, nasty business, this audacious display of arrogance. And while others may smile in toleration, they abhor it. It’s offensive. It’s taking glory for something you aren’t hardly even responsible for. The Bible says, “Without Him we can do nothing. (John 15:5)” He is the one who orchestrates, facilitates and bears the overall burden and responsibility of everything we do as Christians. To believe anything besides that is to put yourself in a position you don’t belong. All that is within you, God placed there. In all that you are capable of, God equipped you. He opens doors. He’s the voice behind you directing you. He’s the one who deserves the glory and praise. He’s the one who deserves the recognition. You, and all that you do, are just another way He displays Himself to the world. So be bold, do it! But give God the glory. Thank Him. Praise Him. And direct the praise and accolades from others to the Lord, who is worthy to be praised.