“Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” – Luke 18:14b
When Herb Brooks, coach of the 1980 US Olympic hockey team that beat the Soviets and went on to win the gold, was assembling the roster, he wasn’t looking for the best players; he was looking for the right players. He needed players who weren’t skating for the spotlight, but those who would sacrifice for something bigger than themselves.
Herb lived humility. But humility in sports today is virtually dead. Parents produce highlight films for 13 year-olds. Players point to the name on the back of their jerseys and taunt their opponents. It seems this is the only way to get noticed.
Jesus shows us a different way. He was not only the “best player”—He was the right player. He was God. He had every right to claim position and power. Instead, He gave up heaven, humbled Himself by living as a man among us, and made the ultimate sacrifice for those He loved (Philippians 2:3-11). He paid for our sins so that by faith we could be reconciled to God and live forever.
Humility doesn’t seek the spotlight. Instead, it serves and sacrifices. Humility comes from the inside out. It’s not just words—it’s actions and attitudes too. More importantly, humility comes from the heart and the mind. What do you think about yourself and how do you feel about yourself? Humble athletes die to self and see themselves as servants—agents of elevating others.
The humble athlete makes others around them better and celebrates their success. They do good deeds no one else sees. They have an attitude of gratitude. They give away credit when things go right and take responsibility when things go wrong.
You might just be the best player. But are you the right player? Do you give Him the glory and use the ability God gave you for the benefit of others? Humility beats pride every time. Humility always wins!
- Do you seek the spotlight or do you sacrifice and serve?
- What can you do to take on the humble attitude and actions of Jesus?
- How can you show humility to your teammates, coaches, officials, and opponents?
- 1 Corinthians 1:31
- Philippians 2:3-11
- 1 Peter 5:5
Father, help me be a humble athlete who serves and sacrifices to make others better, amen