Ah, another football season’s come to an end. Not that I’m exactly an avid fan, but I live with a couple of diehards. And if I want to hang out with them during the fall season, I’ve learned to quit multitasking and hit the couch Sunday afternoons.
It’s not a bad deal, even for a novice like me. My husband whips up some crocked comfort food for dinner, and I keep the snacks and drinks coming. But it’s not just the cozy family time I’m going to miss – it’s No. 13.
The Cardinals’ star quarterback never needed a lucky number and is legendary for more than his prowess on the field. During his career, Kurt Warner earned a string of accolades for the exemplary character he demonstrated on and off the field. Throughout his hardscrabble journey from working guy to gridiron hero, he managed to embody the humility so rare for anyone in the public sphere – much less a professional athlete, where the ego reigns supreme.
As a believer, I think of humility as the cornerstone of a character molded by faith. But many Christians miss the mark. We often fail to follow the playbook our “coach” devised for us; but we score a touchdown when we manage to “be completely humble and gentle … bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)
Our chest pounding, self-reliant culture often characterizes humility as a weakness. But expressing an unassuming, unpretentious nature is no easy feat, even if you have neither power nor influence. It takes the courage of a lion to show the humility of a lamb. Try exercising humility for just five minutes when debating your view on politics, religion or any other hot-button issue. See what I mean? But the truth is that humility diffuses emotions, and inspires others to lay down their weapons.
Many times our natural inclinations are to prove we’re right and to highlight our own achievements. But Warner’s strength was not just his ability to crush the competition in the right context, but rather, his practice of sharing credit with his team. He could have basked in the accolades, but instead chose to point to His Creator, making noble use of his lofty platform. He modeled discipleship on the field by acting with integrity, and by serving his family and community when he exited the locker room.
How much more civility would our public discourse embody if more people paused to really consider someone else’s idea? How much more peace would steep in marriage if each spouse put the other’s needs first? How would co-workers feel if we routinely offered them thanks and praise for their contributions to our success?
Humility is its own reward. Something tells me though Warner is leaving one legacy behind, he will continue his life of service, as “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12)
Still, I’m going to miss watching him Sunday afternoons next fall. I might have to actually learn something about football!
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Diane Meehl worships, serves and enjoys fellowship at Mountain View Lutheran Church. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.