Welcome to “Athlos” a weekly Wednesday blog which examines pillars of personal excellence and regularly brings together the worlds of spirituality and sport.
Rising above Rivalry
“But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will be disorder…” James 3:15-16
The Greatest Of All Time. This popular expression has been abbreviated as G.O.A.T. and in the world of sport, the debate is fierce. In football, is it Maradona, Pele, Ronaldo or Messi? What about Michael Jordan, Le Bron James or Steph Curry in basketball? Does the recently retired Tom Brady claim that title in American football? Surely Brian Lara gets the nod over Donald Bradman and Sachin Tendulkar, right? And, of course, Usain Bolt has no close rival, except for Jesse Owens, perhaps.
You get the point. Trying to decide who is the “all-time” best can be fascinating, although it is hardly an objective conversation because we have “recency-bias” and, to be frank, only God has been around for all time!
This past weekend, Spain’s Rafael Nadal won his 21st tennis Grand Slam title putting him ahead of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, who have both won twenty. To their credit, Federer and Djokovic offered kudos that media houses described as classy. This is an excerpt from Federer as reported on usasportsradar.com: “Never underestimate a great champion. Your incredible work ethic, education and fighting spirit are an inspiration to me and countless others around the world.”
Federer’s magnanimity in the face of such a fierce rivalry is beautiful. There could easily have been room for jealousy and selfish ambition, but he did not go there. New Testament writer, James, reminds us above that where there is envy, there is disorder. Things get messy and relationships get destroyed. James calls it unspiritual.
Spirituality is more than religious practices. It is also about the condition of our hearts and the integrity of our character. To be magnanimous, therefore, is to be mature.
Rich in wisdom
True wisdom is found in those who can genuinely celebrate the victories of others.
If you were inspired by this blog, please consider sharing it with one other person today. To learn more about these and other related themes that promote the cultivation of an integrated inner self, read UNBEATABLE! which is available on Amazon in print and as an e-book.