Greatness Has Been Found

The Olympic Games is a place where greatness is found. I thought Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings played an almost perfect match against the Italian duo, who played exceeding well. It may have been the greatest and most perfect beach volleyball match I have ever seen played by two volleyball players.

Winning three consecutive gold medals over eight years in beach volleyball could very well declare greatness for the two American athletes. I think it does.

What’s nice about May-Treanor and Walsh-Jennings is that they allow others to declare their greatness. They presented themselves as joyful, yet humble athletes.

The American women’s soccer team, on the other hand, decided to declare greatness on their own by donning pre-planned tee shirt proclaiming, “Greatness has been found”. Granted, it was probably a promotional idea from an athletic shoe company, but it still smacked of unbridled pride and arrogance. If a company is trying to promote its product through victorious athletes, I prefer, “I’m going to Disneyland!”

Besides which, if the soccer squad exemplified greatness on the field, shouldn’t the final score have reflected their greatness with a much wider margin of victory instead of 2-1.

The Bible gives us counsel on how to deal with personal accomplishments. According to Proverbs 27:2, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips”.

It’s far better to let another sing your praises than writing and crooning your own cantata. Somehow, self-aggrandizement diminishes the accomplishment whereas allowing others to speak of it increases the stature of the achievement and the one who did the achieving.

I loved what U.S. judo gold medalist Kayla Harrison said Saturday, ''The Olympic motto is faster, higher, stronger. And I think that every American came here to do that… 'Not necessarily fastest, highest, strongest, but I came here to perform at my very, very best and make America proud as a result.'' Well spoken. She competed to serve her country.

Maybe it is as Jesus said, “…but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 20:26).

At the very least, allow others to applaud you rather than giving yourself a standing ovation. You may find yourself standing all by yourself.

Something to think about...