Football: A Lesson in Humility

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Kevin Larter, Student Pastor – Gilbert campus

Have you ever been humbled? Have you ever been put in your place, embarrassed, humiliated? I went to high school at Paradise Valley High School in north Phoenix. During my sophomore year, our varsity football team was good. Really good. We had a solid class of seniors and a solid record heading into the 8th game of the season.

We were about to play Sunnyslope High School, the worst team in our region. They hadn’t won a game all year. In fact, they didn’t win a game the year before that either. They were on an 18-game losing streak. We had this game in the bag! An easy win. We didn’t even have to try. I mean, did we really even have to play this game? We all knew what was going to happen. Everyone…but Sunnyslope. They came out and kicked our tails. They outworked us and outplayed us. It was miracle that we didn’t lose. But we didn’t win either. We tied, 14-14.

A tie…bleh! I know all the soccer fans out there are used to ties. 0-0. 1-1. Bleh! But football players? We don’t like ties. Ties are lame. Ties leave a really bad taste in your mouth, especially when you’re so used to winning.

So after the game, we walked out to the middle of the field to shake hands with Sunnyslope. Every one of our players had his head hung low. We were dejected. Sunnyslope, though, they were ecstatic! It was the first game they hadn’t lost in two seasons! Players on their team were hugging each other, celebrating. But for us it was a long, silent bus ride back to our school. The next day, as we did every Saturday during the season, we showed up to school at 7am for some running and weight lifting, and then we’d watch game film from the night before.

When it came time to watch film, the coaching staff came out of the head coach’s office and they were quiet. Too quiet. They stared at us. They stared through us, like right down into our souls. And one of the assistant coaches spoke up. He simply said, “I’ve never seen such poor football played in my entire lifetime of coaching. There is nothing we can learn from watching this tape. Go home.” And the coaches walked out on us. It was the most humiliating, embarrassing, humbling moment of our lives.

18Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. 19Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud. – Proverbs 16:18-19

I’ve always loved those verses. Like when I see an arrogant, cocky person fall from grace. That’s fun for me. But I also hate those verses, because they apply to me, too. When I get a little too proud, a little too full of myself—my destruction comes, as well. So, in light of this truth from God’s word, may we all remember to keep ourselves in check and stay humble!

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less. – C.S. Lewis

Football: A Lesson in Humility

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