Respect: a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
This might sound a bit abstract, but I think we ought to be far more respectful of the opportunities we get every day to work hard, learn, and compete for the glory of God. We need to have a greater sense of appreciation for the seemingly mundane repetitions in the weight room, during practice, and in competition. Each of them is a gift. Every moment is an opportunity to get better and become more like Christ in the process that we ought to respect deeply. We aren’t guaranteed more of them and we are blessed to have them. Last week the game of tennis provided us with an interesting example of not respecting the opportunities God has given us and I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to write a few words in response to help you and I both think critically.
Bernard Tomic is a talented 23 year old tennis player from Australia with a reputation for conducting himself in a less than professional way on the court. Last week, while facing match point, he gripped his tennis racquet by the strings and attempted to play Fabio Fagnini’s serve with the handle of his racquet. You can watch a video of the lackluster effort here. When asked after the match if he cared about match point Tomic responded, “I don’t care about that match point. Would you care if you were 23 and worth over $10 million?”
There’s so much that could be said in response to Tomic’s post match comment. There are several ways we could analyze this situation from a Christian point of view. We could discuss the way Tomic seems to be defining success: being young and rich. We could point out the irony in the fact that Tomic is rich because he cared about other match points and won them. We could probe into Tomic’s motivation and ambition and ponder what he’s really trying to accomplish in tennis.
Doing those things, however, would require a great deal of speculation and since I don’t think Tomic would be interested in doing an interview with Compete4Christ I think we will steer clear of those options. What I’d like to do instead is take Tomic’s backwards racquet antics and use them to highlight a new phrase I’ve been contemplating: Respect the Rep.
Christians are called by God’s grace to serve Him in and through all things. The goal is to get to the end of this life and hear God’s voice say, “Well done good and faithful servant.” Being a servant comes with a certain amount of humility. That humility results in a changed perspective on who you are and how you should conduct yourself not only in competition, but in every area of life.
It’s not your job to decide which reps matter and which ones don’t
When you quit on an opportunity or a rep like Tomic did you’re essentially saying to God, “I’m wise enough to discern that this rep doesn’t matter that much so I don’t need to try.” That’s a bold thing for a servant to say to a master. As the image bearers we don’t have the wisdom needed to make that call. Our finite bit of knowledge and wisdom has no idea what God is doing in and through the rep. It’s not our job to declare that the rep isn’t important because doing so is above our pay grade. Making such judgements aren’t our responsibility and when we have the proper humble perspective on things we’re glad our sinful, shortsighted selves aren’t the ones making that decision because we would make a mess of things if we were.
Your job is to give 100%
When we understand who we are in Christ and begin to wrap our minds around the nature of who God really is we begin to say, “Lord, I’m not wise enough to judge the importance of this rep. I’ll just give 100% and trust you with the outcome.” You see the difference? Humility breeds a willingness to embrace your job as the servant while trusting God with outcome. It’s simply not our job to try and determine which reps we should go hard on and which ones we should take off.
Now, obviously, there are many unique situations that might involve injuries or sportsmanship or who knows what else. I’m not attempting to interact with those types of situations. Here we are focused only on Tomic’s lackluster effort and whether the Christian competitor ought to be judging the importance of opportunities and reps in the same way.
What does it look like to respect the rep?
Here are four areas of competition to consider:
- Effort–respecting the rep begins with giving 100% effort. Avoid the temptation to think you need to give 110% effort. That’s a statistical impossibility that you can’t actually do. All you need to do is give all that you have. There’s no need to try and mysteriously gather up an extra 10%.
- Technique–every component of competition has proper techniques. This is true even for the most basic movements in every sport. Also, coaches, communicating has proper techniques. Make sure you’re using best practices as a communicator in the same way you would expect an athlete to use best practices.
- Be coachable–be humble enough to realize you aren’t perfect while simultaneously wanting to be perfect. Coaches, accept feedback from players and parents and connect with coaches who are more experienced.
- Away from the game–eat the right things. Get proper sleep. Stay hydrated. Make the right choices in social settings. You get the idea. Coaches, you aren’t off the hook here. Your lifestyle choices impact your ability to perform as a coach as well. Make sure you’re making good choices away from the game so that you are at your very best for the sake of your athletes and to the glory of God.
There is so much more that could be said here, but I think this is a good portion for all of us to chew on for now. Be humble, embrace your role as God’s servant, and respect the rep.
Has this post been helpful to you?