“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in Heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” — Philippians 2:1-11
My college track coach, a former U.S. Olympic coach, told me that his greatest challenge with freshman athletes is to teach them that the world doesn’t revolve around them. All through junior high and high school, these athletes have been told by parents and friends that they are the best — they are the star.
Some have gotten preferential treatment because of their athletic abilities. In high school, they started every game, never left the field, and had their name in the newspaper. Then they get to college and join a team with other athletes as talented or more talented than they are. Now they don’t start every game, they rarely see the field, and their name isn’t in the paper.
For someone who thinks the world and the team revolves around them, this is a hard pill to swallow. Just look at all the college athletes that quit or transfer during or before their sophomore year. My college coach had to remind freshman athletes to put the team’s success ahead of their individual success.
Paul summarizes playing second fiddle and exalting Christ in Philippians 2:1-11. As Christians, our world revolves around Jesus Christ, not us. And if we really love playing the fiddle, then we won’t mind playing second fiddle. But if we love being first, we’ll have a hard time playing second fiddle.
Does your life revolve around Christ? Do you consider others before yourself? Or are life and sports always about you?
— Ikki Soma, Houston Rockets chaplain
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.