As a society, we claim that we like athletes who tend to be humble and quiet, but in reality, those aren’t the guys who get the focus—at least not as much as the other guys who are trying to bring attention to their own names. Barry Sanders and Deion Sanders came into the NFL together in 1989. Barry was “old school.” He did his job and played spectacular football, and when he scored a touchdown, he handed the ball to the official and then went back to the bench. After games, it was hard to get him to talk about himself. He would praise his offensive lineman, then head out and stay away from the camera as much as possible.
As great as Barry Sanders was and as much as we admired his skill on the field, the media tended to gravitate more toward Deion Sanders, the self-proclaimed “Prime Time.” Deion was flashy, loud, and proud. He played great and was always ready to put on a show, especially for the cameras. Behind the scenes, Barry and Deion probably weren’t much different. Everyone who played with Deion said he was hardworking, a great teammate, and not really like the “Prime Time” persona he was known for. But Deion had figured out that in our society, flash sells. He had endorsements, show and clothing lines, and notoriety. But there’s a problem with this…
Pride Vs. Confidence
There is a proverb that says, “Pride goes before destruction.” Time and time again we see examples where the fine line between confidence and pride has been blurred, resulting in fall after fall. Pride is all about me, but confidence is a realization that God has given me abilities and created me to fill a unique role that no one else is called to fill. Borne in humility, confidence is recognition that life is not about me but about using the gifts and abilities I have been blessed with to their fullest. And it’s not just using the gifts to benefit me, but to help my team and impact others.
I appreciate that form of humility; it’s not a false modesty claiming that what you accomplished or who you are isn’t important, but a realization that God created all of us with unique gifts and abilities. It’s a different dynamic than tearing myself down; rather, it’s trying to lift others up. It’s embracing the idea that God created me for a particular place and time, and sharing that idea with others who were also created to play a role. Once you can do that, it becomes much easier to let go of the status or false ideas of respect.
Respect Others First
Rather than insisting that others respect us, we need to make sure that we are respecting others, holding others in the proper esteem. We need to make sure that we demonstrate a respect for others simply because they are here, trying their best to be all they were created to be. Those who truly live out that quality will make the best spouses, teammates, parents, friends, and business partners. Stop for a moment and think about people you know who tried and are trying to be all they should be. Are we modeling that for our children? Hopefully, we’re teaching them that humility—that life is not about us but about others and something greater than us is to be valued.