August 27, 2013 (Breakpoint) - Here we are in the dog days of August. Makes us think of beaches, barbecues, and baseball. Unfortunately, due to recent news, we no longer think of home runs and hot dogs when we think of baseball. Thanks to superstars like the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez, we think of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) and cheating.
Rodriguez was on pace to challenge baseball’s most hallowed hitting records. But as a result of his involvement in baseball’s latest steroid scandal, he’s been suspended for 211 games. His career and legacy are in ruins.
A-Rod is appealing the suspension, causing controversy at every ballpark at which he suits up.
Of course, there are a lot more important things to think about than the trials and tribulations of professional sports figures. But the case of A-Rod opens a window to give us a view of where we are—and where we need to be going—as a culture.
New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote a thoughtful column about Rodriguez and the narcissism that many see in his every decision, including demanding that a personal assistant put toothpaste on his toothbrush.
“One of the mysteries around Rodriguez,” Brooks says, “is why the most supremely talented baseball player on the planet would risk his career to … take performance-enhancing drugs?” Brooks theorizes that “self-preoccupied people have trouble seeing that their natural abilities come from outside themselves and can only be developed when directed toward something else outside themselves. … Locked in a cycle of insecurity and … self-validation, their talents are never enough, and they end up devouring what they have been given.”
G.K. Chesterton said that gratitude was the mother of all virtues. Whatever talents and opportunities God has chosen to bestow on us demand our gratitude, and we should aim for His glory as we cultivate them. Self-reflection time: Do we do this? Do you?
Another story out of the sports world provides a stark contrast to A-Rod’s idea of what life is all about. A few weeks ago at the Canadian Open, golfer Hunter Mahan left the tournament to be with his wife, Kandi, who had gone into labor three weeks early.
The really amazing thing about Mahan’s decision is that the thirty-one year old was leading the tournament at the time and had a real chance at the million-dollar winner check. Let me repeat that: “a million dollars.” According to Mahan, though, the decision was easy, because he wasn’t focused on himself or the money, but his family.
“When I am done playing golf,” Mahan said, “I’d rather be noted for being a good husband and good father than anything else … success comes and goes. … Seeing your daughter every day, having a family—that is stuff that makes you happy to your core.”
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The sad thing is that Mahan’s decision wouldn’t have been so newsworthy just a generation ago.
Chuck Colson knew how ubiquitous the culture of narcissism had become, and how we must actively fight it—that we need to call narcissism what it is and repent—even in the church, where self-absorption has gained more than a foothold.
But Chuck knew something else: “The cure for narcissism,” he said, “is stepping away from the mirror and looking at someone else—especially Him who is the true desire of us all.”
Of course, Jesus Christ is not just the cure for narcissism. He’s the cure for all forms of sinful pride and selfishness, and every other sin.
By dying on the cross in our place, taking the punishment we deserve, the Lord was looking out for us, not himself—which is the very antithesis of narcissism! As Paul wrote, Jesus, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant…. And being found in human form, humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” [Phil 2:6-8].
Are you ready to humble yourself, step away from the mirror and up to the plate, and receive this incredible gift Christ offers?
Reprinted with permission from Breakpoint