The Mocking (The Lebron James Factor)

The MockingAdmittedly, I’m a Miami Heat fan.

I’ve heard the accusations of jumping on the bandwagon of the reigning NBA Championship team. However, this is not so. In my own defense, I’ve been a long time fan of the New Jersey Nets. When they decided to move to Brooklyn, they severed ties with me! With that said (and cleared up), I’ve watched the Miami Heat’s seasons of victory and defeat. Now, they have the unique opportunity to be a part of history by becoming NBA Champions three times in a row. If achieved, it will be noted that this is not an easy feat.

After a young adults bible study, I watched ABC to see the last quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs. It was already widely reported by this time that the arena was experiencing an air conditioning shutdown. The fans were using fans to fend off the heat (no pun intended)! The conditions in the arena affected game play, especially with one of the most celebrated players in all of basketball – Lebron James. During gameplay, Lebron experienced severe cramping resulting in him forfeiting the opportunity to finish the game. It can be disputed by sports analysts and fans, but when Lebron left the game, the Spurs went on a great running streak. When the game was over, the Spurs were victorious.

This blog post is not to address what happened during the game. Rather, I want to address the mocking that took place after the game. Lebron James “haters” began to post photos on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, mocking how he left the game and why.

“If it was Michael Jordan, he would have played.”

“Kobe had a ruptured achilles and walked off! They had to carry Lebron off!”

These comments and memes began to flood the social media world. They had a new word for the mocking called “LEBRONING”. People from across the country began posting photos of friends carrying them, mimicking Lebron James in pain.

After seeing this — a thought crossed my mind.

Whether you are a fan of Lebron James, the Miami Heat or even the game of basketball, there’s a lesson to be learned. When you are striving for excellence, prepare yourself for THE MOCKING. Subtlety or directly, it will come. In the case of NBA Finals Game 1, before the evening was up, thousands of TV viewers (most of whom have never walked on a basketball court let alone play the game) reveled in the opportunity to make fun of the reigning NBA Champion. It is as if they were awaiting the moment to criticize, harass, or make fun of a celebrity-athlete…who experienced pain.

When asked about the internet wave, Lebron commented by saying he didn’t care what people thought. I don’t know what’s in his heart, but I seriously doubt it didn’t have some affect on him. The criticism ranged from not being like Michael Jordan, not being strong enough like Kobe Bryant and not doing enough to properly hydrate himself. “Well, the other players had to deal with the same conditions. Lebron, get over yourself..” leaves the mouth of viewers who may have never experienced a cramp while playing a sport.

Beyond the Lebron James factor, think about your own life. You may have experienced this in a similar way but not in the national spotlight. As soon as you fail to meet a standard or make a mistake, others around you or who strategically surround you pounce like a caged tiger, ready to devour you with their words. They were waiting for an opportunity, an opening to criticize your gift, your talent, your personhood, your character. But, like in the case of Lebron, most of those who criticize aren’t doing what you do or feeling what you feel. They are observing. They are watching how you time and time again rise above the naysayers and pursue your dreams and goals. Rather than supporting and encouraging, their bitterness turns to criticism devoid of any understanding and sensitivity. 

When you have those who mock, keep them in your prayers. The emptiness of their lives drives them to criticize the fullness in yours. In the case of Lebron James, if he retired right now, he doesn’t have anything to prove to anyone but himself. He’s the type of athlete who has yet to reach his full potential and has already garnered top honors in the NBA and the sports world. You may have not reached your full potential, but you have achieved much. Keep striving. Keep pressing even in the midst of the mocking. Mocking is not blocking. The words of others will never block the Word of God over your life. -RF

BTW: Go Heat! (Much respect to the San Antonio Spurs)

In Your Face: The Dangers of Boasting

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. – 2 Corinthians 11:30

IYFIn our celebrity-driven culture, the insatiable need for attention and self-aggrandizement grows at a quickening pace. With all the modes of communication today, it’s hard to keep up! With the opportunity to share life with one another in several ways, we can find ourselves running into the traps of being self-consummed with our world, our goals and our successes. The worst form of this is when we deny we are promoting ourselves, wrapping our comments and stories in false humility.

Allow me to explain…and let’s see if you have run into this from time to time:

EXAMPLE #1: “Boasting In Success and Then Giving Glory To God!”

Have you ever heard someone remark on their successes, what they accomplished and how they were so overwhelmed by their many talents…then bookend their comments with “I give all glory to God!”? Tagging God at the end of your verbal resume as if you are tagging a photo reeks of a pride cover-up! When someone shares a testimony or God’s blessings in their life, we should collectively celebrate the goodness and faithfulness of God. But, there is a vast difference between a bragging about the wonders of the Lord in your life and bragging about what a wonder you are! 

EXAMPLE #2: “Boasting In Success — Already Knowing The Person You Share It With Would Like The Same Thing”

I don’t hear this talked about often, but here it goes. If you know you have received a measure of success in an area, it should beckon a humility and a call to inspire others to reach (if not exceed) what you have been enabled to do. Throughout my life, I have had family members, mentors and friends inspire me through their hard work, tenacity, and healthy ambition to achieve excellence. I’ve learned the art of dismissing excuses and tackling the challenges that lie ahead. For that, I am eternally grateful.

However, if you already know someone is praying, working hard and striving for something you have received, why would you boast in their face? Why mention it every time you are in conversation with them (directly, indirectly or in a subtle manner not to raise ‘red flags of pride’)? Why deliberately provoke jealousy, envy and unhealthy competition? For what? Isn’t your success satisfying enough? The danger of this type of boasting is that your success and blessings are not enough. Unfortunately, too many find pleasure in another’s sufferings. If you cannot find satisfaction in your achievements without trashing someone else, you will never be truly successful. 

EXAMPLE #3: “Boasting Incessantly About You and Then Wonder Why You Have “HATERS”!” 

My generation has coined the term haters. My parent’s generation used the word backstabbers. The lyrics to a classic song by The O’Jays rings true for many: “They smile in your face, all the time they want to take your place, the backstabbers!” In this life, you will have life-long backers and supporters. You will also face those that may not be fond of you — for a variety of reasons. Some reasons are out of your control. But, for that which is in your wheelhouse, why provoke people to not like you? It’s as if our success is measured solely on how many haters we claim we have. Our successes and blessings should be measured on how we love, not how much hate surrounds us.

BOAST IN YOUR WEAKNESS

There are many other examples of boasting that is veiled in false humility, cloaked in false platitudes, and surrounded by wrong motives. But, I don’t hear much about boasting in what Scripture speaks of — your weakness. Boasting in your weakness is not popular. Who wants to willingly reveal their struggles and failings? It takes a level of maturity to share the whole self: the ups, the downs, and the in-betweens. In 2 Corinthians 11:30, the Apostle Paul makes it plain – boast in your weakness. Paul was embarrassed by a late night escape from Damascus in a basket, but he shared it. In 2 Corinthians chapter 12, he speaks of the the “thorn in his flesh” but how God’s grace is sufficient; in his weakness, God is strong.

Imagine if we (you and I) would be so bold to boast in our weakness. Our sharing would not strive to “bleed on” others for the sake of sympathy, but sharing for the purpose of glorifying God and His strength. The Apostle Paul’s example of boasting in his weakness showed his strength. Rather than taking credit for his great exploits, He gave all glory to God. The record is clear — Paul is a major hero in the New Testament Scriptures. But, his heroism was not marked solely by his missionary resume; it was and is demonstrated in his humanity.

Let’s boast in our God, what He has and is doing in our lives. Let our lives shine brightly — for Him. Share your testimony but for the sake of the Gospel. Inspire others to achieve greatness rather than lording your success over them. As we are in this learning journey together, I pray we avoid the dangers of boasting for the wrong reasons and embrace the joy of boasting in our God! – RF