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Playing with Humility
Nathan Naversen

A few weeks ago the San Francisco 49ers won a close game against the Seattle Seahawks. With the game on the line, San Francisco 49er Terrell Owens caught a touchdown pass over two Seattle defenders. But what happened afterward shocked and amused spectators worldwide. In the end zone after the play was over, Terrell Owens pulled out a magic marker from his sock, autographed the football, and tossed it to one of his friends, his financial advisor standing right there.

When I first heard the story I laughed, because I thought it was a creative way to celebrate after a good play. But then the more I thought about it, the more I became upset with what happened. As a Christian, is this how God wants us to act after we make a good play?

To answer the question, consider this:

To pull off a touchdown pass, you need a number of things all to work in your favor. You need great blocking up front. You need all the receivers and the backs to execute their routes perfectly. Some receivers are decoys meant to get the real target open. The quarterback has to make a quick, accurate read, sometimes throwing to the second, third or fourth wide receiver. Then he's got to put the ball right on the money with a perfectly timed pass. Then and only then can a receiver make a touchdown catch.

I finally concluded that celebrating, taking glory for yourself before the game is even over is the pinnacle of arrogance. After all, it took 11 players to get that ball into the end zone, not just one. Imagine how silly Terrell would have felt if the Seahawks would have come back on the next drive and won the game with a touchdown and a two point conversion?

So with that in mind, here are some tips for playing a team-oriented game characterized by humility:

  • Spend time giving up your own pursuit of glory by blocking on the offensive line. You won't score a touchdown, but with a servant's heart, you can help others score.
  • As a quarterback, don't pass to the person you know who can catch it and score. Try making your first priority the person who hasn't caught a pass all game. As a receiver, spend time running decoy routes. Use the play to run in such a way to get someone else open.
  • Remember that your tongue is just as much a part of the game as anything else. Honor one another with your words and try not to trash talk. Instead, try to use words that will build players up.
  • As Coach Vince Lombardi used to tell his running backs: Play with abandon! Just because you are playing with humility does not mean you shouldn't play hard.

Finally, here are some tips from our Coach in heaven, on how HE wants you to act. May these verses speak to your heart this week.

Philippians 2
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Colossians 3
12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

1 Peter 5
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

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