Lesson in Humility

A man’s pride will bring him low,
But the humble in spirit will retain honor.
Proverbs 29:23 NKJV

Lesson in Humility

TV and radio reports repeated the same story. So did the newspapers, but I kept watching, listening, and reading anyway. Each time I heard it I listened for a different result, but no matter how many times I heard the story, it always ended in heartbreak. Tom Watson, only two months short of his 60th birthday, was unable to hold on to win golf’s oldest championship. The whole world was pulling for him to become the oldest major champion. It was not to be.

As an avid golf fan, I have grieved for Tom Watson. He played so well. He clearly outplayed the field in the way he managed his game. But in golf as in life, things happen. Someone made a long putt, and Tom chose a club that carried the ball only a few inches too far. Game over. Tom would not be the champion. Or was he?
No other player had a better score at the end of regulation play. Then age caught up with the old guy in the playoff that followed. But to the fans it mattered very little. Tom Watson performed like a champion in the eyes of all those who watched.

In the final moments of the tournament, Tom and his opponent walked together up the fairway toward the final green. The crowd’s standing ovation expressed their appreciation and everyone knew the cheers were mostly for Tom. He might have let his pride prevail and share the moment of glory with the one to be crowned champion. But with the outcome clearly decided, Tom slowed his pace and allowed center stage to his opponent. There for all the world to see, he gave a lesson in humility.

Sometimes we wonder why good things can’t happen when we see such a valiant effort. Sometimes it seems that the wrong champion wins the prize. But in losing, Tom Watson gave us a lesson that he could not have taught in the spotlight of victory. Another’s name would be inscribed on the trophy, but Tom Watson left an indelible mark on the lives of people around the world. And in the minds of the world, he is a champion.

Our Lord Jesus was another who accepted a humble defeat in place of the victory that was within his grasp. In defeat He was the light of the world.

Few of us will ever play on a stage as large as an international championship. But in our everyday lives, we all have chances to receive accolades that perhaps we even deserve. Those are times when we might allow our pride prevail, but when we choose to stand aside, we can make a greater difference in the world. Those are the times for a lesson in humility. Those are the times you will be the light of the world.

July 26, 2009