Today on his blog Kevin DeYoung posted C.J.’s most valuable reads of 2009. Read about C.J.’s picks here.
Video of C.J.’s conversation with Bob Kauflin and Jeff Purswell, recorded at our WorshipGod09 conference, is now online. To watch the 70-minute video, click here: “Lessons Learned from Three Decades of Leading.” Or watch it here:
February 13, 2009 by Tony Reinke
Categories: Humility | Humor | Sports
Happy Friday! Today we post the second half of the winning entries in our Don’t Waste Your Sports DVD
contest (the first half is here
Winning entry #5:
My most embarrassing moment occurred in the middle of a 3-mile varsity cross-country race in high school. For those who don’t think cross-country is a contact sport, think again.
I was about 2 miles into the race and struggling in the hot weather. My older sister happened to be running next to me so I tried to focus on keeping up with her and looked down to watch her stride.
All of a sudden, her feet disappeared and I look up just in time to wham into a rather large pine tree. There I was, flopping on the ground like a fish after having the wind knocked out of me. I couldn’t get up. I’m not easily deterred so I finished the race and ended the day but with a pounding headache.
After the race, my teammates helped me pick out the bark that had imprinted on the skin of my forehead. I was continually the butt of everyone’s jokes the rest of the season. Can you say “tree hugger”?
Winning entry #4:
In my sophomore year on the varsity basketball team we were in a close game against Mercer County High, down by 1 point with just seconds to go.
The clock was stopped and the referee handed our point guard the ball for the inbounds pass, under our own goal. With only five seconds to inbound the ball, he was not having any luck finding an open player, and time was ticking away. Our entire bench was screaming for the guard to call timeout
, so we wouldn’t lose possession.
At that exact moment, I became wide open
under the goal, and the point guard threw me the ball. But instead of making the basket for the win, I called a timeout
, because that’s what the bench was screaming.
Bowling Green, KY
Winning entry #3:
I’m in the third grade, playing right field in my hometown rec league. I’m in right field for a reason—and it’s skill related—I lack the ability to field ground balls. The only thing I do worse is field fly balls. And I’ve gotta…well, you know…go.
Late in the game, I inform the coach of my growing need. There are no facilities at the field. He’s absorbed in the game—we’re tied. He waves me off.
We go into extra innings, and I explain to the coach, again, that I’ve really gotta go. He explains that if I leave, we forfeit the game. There’s just nine of us.
So I trot out to my lonely position in right field. I’m hopping from one foot to the other. I’m squeezing my knees together. And there came a point at which my bladder muscles decided to surrender. The dam burst. My two pant legs became a delta flowing in an ever-broadening stream down into my shoes and then into the right field turf.
No one noticed. At this level, baseball is an infielder’s game.
The inning ended with the score still tied. Now I’ve got an even bigger problem. I can’t run home, and I can’t go back to the dugout looking like this.
I spot, behind the fence that runs along the first base line, a large mud puddle. I don’t even have to think. I sprint toward the dugout and take a detour, diving head first through the brown water.
I walked into the dugout covered from chest to shoes with mud. The coach looked at me and turned his head in disgust.
I don’t remember who won.
Winning entry #2:
Since I am a professional golfer, I figure I have a lot of humbling sports related experiences.
This past year I graduated from college and turned professional. Seeing as I did not have much money to fund my expenses yet, I did not play as much as I would have liked during the summer. I still decided to go to PGA Tour Qualifying in the fall.
After a successful career in college winning multiple times, I went to Q-school looking like a weekend golfer. I shot 80-83-83-81 to finish close to last. It was the most humbling experience of my life. I was way under prepared and unfocused. To make matters worse, most of my potential sponsors pulled the plug on our deal afterwards.
Through golf God has always showed me how much self-worth I derived from my performance and the point was really driven home after that tournament. Also, it has forced me to rely on Him for my finances and that other sponsors will come along. I am thankful that I am in a profession that really makes me to trust the Lord and seek to have my identity in Him alone. Golf is a game that will give you many opportunities to practice humility and grow in holiness.
Palm Beach, FL
Winning entry #1:
As a high school sophomore, I was trying to get on the varsity basketball team. Playing in a J.V. game on the road, I was posted up and calling for the ball, hoping to impress the varsity coach who was watching.
The guard didn’t have a good passing angle. Frustrated, I turned to screen across the lane. Just as I began to turn I was smacked hard in the head.
The next thing I know, everyone was laughing.
Apparently when I turned my head, the pass was made, smacking me in the back of the head. The ball bounced off my head, up in the air, and down into the basket. The referees were laughing so hard they called a timeout.
But I got to play varsity that night for the first time!
February 12, 2009 by Tony Reinke
Categories: Humility | Humor | Sports
Congratulations to the ten winners of the Don’t Waste Your Sports DVD Contest. Today and tomorrow we are posting the ten winning entries on the blog, in ascending order (to heighten the drama).
Today we feature winning entries #10–#6. Enjoy.
Winning entry #10:
Playing baseball was my lifeline as a young boy. And I was pretty good at it. I was the pitcher nobody liked to face (once threw a 16-strikeout game).
For years my parents, coaches, and teammates recognized my gift and encouraged me in the game. Every summer I was part of a tournament “all star” team that traveled around the Pittsburgh area, playing other schools.
Can you just sense the humility here?
In one particular game, we faced a team with one fantastic hitter. I was pitching, two men were on base, and Mr. “Big Shot” steps to the plate. And just to be safe, we decided to intentionally walk this kid, who greatly resembled Goliath.
I threw the catcher two intentional balls. My third pitch came in a little too close to the plate, close enough for Goliath to swing at and send out of the park—a three-run home run on an intentional walk. That was the day I learned what humility was all about.
Winning entry #9:
The most humbling moment in my athletic career is more serious and sad than anything else.
During high school I was fortunate enough to compete at the high school and Junior Olympic level in volleyball. I had several scholarship offers to play volleyball at the D1 level (and a few offers for softball too).
Volleyball was my life; I ate, breathed, worked, played, and slept volleyball. And I was raised in church, and had been a believer since a very young age, but had ignored God during this time in my life because I was so focused on volleyball.
Toward the end of my senior year season, I developed severe tendonitis in my dominant shoulder. Being a typical prideful athlete, I took painkillers and ignored it.
During a semifinal game for the state championship, we’re tied 14–14 with our rival team. I go up for a spike. Perfect. Except it was not so perfect. My shoulder dislocated and in the process I ripped my rotator cuff apart.
We lost the game and I lost my ability to play volleyball and softball (I was supposed to be the ace pitcher that year), I lost scholarship offers, I lost my pride, and lost what I thought was my life.
But what I gained was far greater. Through the pain and tears, and many months of anger, God changed my heart and my attitude. That painful, embarrassing, and devastating event readjusted my view on life and showed me that Christ really was my only solution for happiness and fulfillment.
Winning entry #8:
The town where I attended high school had its share of rivalries. I attended the slummier, grittier public high school, and we were playing a big basketball game against one rival, a private Mennonite school, both of our schools having long histories of success.
Big crowds, pep rallies, and a lot of excitement preceded the big game. And although we were visitors in the Mennonite gym, we had our share of loyal fans bussed over.
Deep into the game, the ball became trapped between the backboard and the rim. Our coach called a timeout, and my teammates retreated back to our bench. Eager to help out the hapless referee—and show off my amazing vertical skills!—I took a couple of steps and with breathtaking athleticism, leapt towards the ball. Reaching a height just short of my goal, I was able to reach (and slap at) the ball. But I could not free the ball.
The large crowd erupted into jeers, as my face turned an inhuman shade of red, whereupon my coach promptly screamed at me to get over to the huddle.
The fans heckled me mercilessly during my endless jaunt back to the bench. We eventually won the game, but my vertical was never the same!
Winning entry #7:
The game was clearly over. Time had not run out, but the scoreboard indicated an insurmountable lead of our team and the faces of the opposing team confirmed it. We dominated on the boards and sank one shot after another.
We were the better team on the court that day, or at least the scoreboard would have you believe.
With the decision in hand, our team of 8th graders was clearly having a blast. And being an inexperienced, volunteer boys basketball coach, I seemed to let the unruly on-court behavior get the better of me. Discipline soon waned. One fancy no-look pass on one play gave way to a showy alley-oop on the next. Before we knew it, our players began chucking three-pointers from half-court.
After the game, as both teams were exchanging high-fives, their coach, several decades older, confronted me.
“Congrats on the win. You got a talented team,” he said, “But it was disrespectful what you did towards the end. Maybe they can learn a thing about sportsmanship, Coach.”
I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me then, but we were no longer just having fun—we did it at their expense. Though we won the game as was obvious on the scoreboard, we had lost the game in spirit. Sure enough, I would deliver this message to the kids who were not expecting such words after a victory.
There is much to be said about humility, because the ability to reflect genuine grace is perhaps the best victory of all.
Diamond Bar, CA
Winning entry #6:
I was attending a San Francisco Giants baseball game about 10 years ago accompanied by a junior high student from my church. I had acquired some field level seats along the third base line, and as is the custom with most baseball fans with “good seats,” I brought a baseball glove.
Halfway through the game, a right-handed batter pulled the ball foul on the ground in my direction. As I (and the fan to my right) stretched over the fence to snag the ball, I toppled over the fence entirely and landed right directly my head! In a panic, I scrambled back over the fence. Needless to say, there was a roar of laughter from the fans who caught the moment. Which would include the photographer from the Chronicle newspaper who ended up capturing the moment. The next day that picture of me falling head-first onto the field was published in full color on the front page of the sports section.
To make matters worse, the picture captured not only my fall, but also captured the junior high student who had joined me cracking up in laughter.
Now that was a bit humbling, especially when I had to explain that for all that effort and embarrassment—and brief of moment of “fame”—I never got the ball.
San Jose, CA
August 6, 2008 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Humility | Sports
I’m back from a wonderful, memory-filled vacation with my family in Tennessee. The blog silence is now (so fittingly) broken with a story from the world of sports.
On Sunday, Washington Redskins legends Art Monk and Darrell Green were inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. There was a lot of predictable pageantry, with a surprising twist in the speech by Monk.
Now I assume there are knowledgeable sports fans reading who are either unfamiliar or minimally familiar with Art Monk, given that he played many years ago (1980-1993). But I couldn’t be more familiar with the receiver--having lived in the D.C. area all my life, having been raised in a Redskin home, and having watched almost every Redskin game during that era. I probably saw 800 of Monk’s 953 catches as a Redskin (and I saw all of the 65 catches in playoff games).
So if you’re looking for stories and stats about Monk (or arguments for why he should have been inducted into the Hall of Fame years ago) give me a call! But this post is not about stories and stats.
What I most appreciated about Art Monk in his speech Sunday was his evident humility and love for the Savior, both of which were on full display. They were on display through his son’s introduction, and they were on full display in and through his own speech. But they have not been on full display for a broader audience. Some of the most impressive comments appear to have been selectively excised from the video highlights and sound bites.
Art Monk was introduced by his son James Monk Jr., whose words are a loud statement of what he observed in his dad off the field.
You know, growing up as a son of Art Monk is something that I would never ever change for the world. And as his son, there's always been this question I could never escape, that I could never avoid, that I could never get away from and that was: Do you want to be like Art when you grow up? Now, you think such an easy question would have such an easy answer. Let me tell you a few things that go into answering this question …
James Monk Jr. concluded the short introduction with this answer:
So to answer the question, do you want to be like Art Monk when you grow up, my answer is I'd rather be like Dad. Dad, thank you for being the man of God that God has called you to be, and for raising me in the same way. As your best friend, as your admirer, as your biggest fan and as your son, I want to tell the whole world that I love you and I'm truly honored and blessed to induct you into the 2008 Pro Football Hall of Fame.
I read these words with tears in my eyes.
Art Monk stepped to the podium next to deliver his induction speech. His words are worth reading carefully. He said,
… Getting here did not come without controversy, as I'm sure it did with some of the guys sitting behind me. But through it all, I'm here with a greater appreciation for something that not every player is able to achieve and for the people who stood up for me and spoke out on my behalf. …
What I’ve tried to convey to those who were upset about the process was that I was okay with it. But in all due respect, that as great as this honor is, it’s not what really defines who I am or the things that I’ve been able to accomplish in my life. …
And even now as a Hall of Famer, the one thing I want to make very clear is that my identity and my security is found in the Lord. And what defines me and my validation comes in having accepted his son Jesus Christ as my personal savior. And what defines me is the Word of God, and it’s the Word of God that will continue to shape and mold me into the person that I know he’s called me to be.
So I’ve learned a long time ago never to put my faith or trust in man, for man will always fail you. Man will always disappoint you. But the Word of God says that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. And He will never fail you.
And that is what I live by and what I stand on. Being included into this fraternity is a pretty humbling experience for me. I always grew up seeing these guys as giants and legends who make significant contributions to the game of football. And it’s pretty hard for me to believe that I’ve now been included as part of them. Growing up I was never voted the most likely to succeed. And there was never anything about me that would have given anyone the impression that I would have played in the NFL, let alone to be standing here.
There’s a scripture that I think about almost every day and I’ve come to personalize it to my life. It says: “Lord, who am I that you are mindful of me?” [Psalm 8:4]. And the Apostle Paul says, “Think of what you were when you were called. Not many were wise by human standards. Not many were influential. Not many were born of noble birth” [1 Corinthians 1:26]. And when I look at my life and how I grew up, I certainly had none of those qualities or benefits.
But I understand and I know that I’m here not by, in, and of my own strength—but it’s by the grace and the power of God upon my life, who I know gave me favor along the way, and who provided opportunity and room for me to use my gifts.
So I am very grateful to receive this honor, and I can stand here before you and say, “Hey, look at me, look at what I did.” But if I’m going to boast, I’m going to boast today in the Lord, for it’s because of him that I’m here and I give him thanks and glory and honor for all that he has done for me.
Art Monk’s words reveal humility, are theologically informed, and are mindful of an eternal perspective (as were Darrell Green’s).
From my view in the cheap seats, too many pro athletes who profess Christ appear theologically ignorant, have little or no involvement in the local church, and have no pastoral oversight in their lives. Monk’s speech appears to be the fruit of good pastoring. If more professional athletes participated in churches where sound doctrine was taught, there might be more examples like Art Monk and Darrell Green.
But I want you to notice that early in the speech Monk mentions the controversy over his postponed induction to the Hall of Fame. For seven years he was denied entrance into the Hall, though his stats were obviously as good as other receivers already in the Hall (such as Michael Irvin, who was inducted in 2007). And Monk addressed the controversy head-on, but with humility. After a long and controversial wait, we hear a humble man who places his trust beyond the reach of man, and who doesn’t live to be honored by men.
Monk’s speech reflects the words of Jeremiah 9:23-24.
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
The quiet sports star stepped in front of thousands of fans and used the moment, not for self-congratulation, but to glorify God. Standing beside a bronze bust of himself, his speech is no celebration of human achievement, but of amazing grace. In a place built to enshrine human achievement, Monk reminded us all of human weakness.
Sunday Art Monk provided a compelling example for fathers and their children of true greatness—humility before God. I try to seize these moments as teaching moments for my soul and my son. And I am freshly provoked to provide my son with a similar example of humility.
In early March, C.J. and Carolyn Mahaney addressed a room full of couples being trained for pastoral ministry at the Pastors College. Soon these couples will return to their home churches to begin (or resume) the public and transparent life of pastoral ministry.
A question asked by one of the wives was simple: How should a wife respond when her pastor-husband is criticized? The question was asked in the context of pastor’s families, but the answer will likely benefit all married couples.
Question: Carolyn, as a pastor’s wife, how do you handle situations where your husband is criticized or there is grumbling in the church about your husband?
Carolyn: Obviously, it certainly isn’t easy to have your husband criticized. But as wives, we must recognize our role as our husband’s helper and make sure we don’t take up an offense, which would not be helpful to our husbands. And that does not take place without a fight. This is the person you love the most in the whole world, and if someone is criticizing him, you can be easily offended and want to defend him. Yet, I must realize that taking an offense would be a disservice to my husband. So it’s important that we as wives guard our hearts, making sure we don’t take up an offense, seeking to serve our husbands as helpers.
C.J.: Your point is an excellent one. There have been many times that I have desired Carolyn to take up an offense—“Join me in my offense against this individual.” I’m not immediately happy that she hasn’t taken an offense, but I have learned that eventually she has served me invaluably when she does not take up an offense. In no way is she defending or justifying what others have said or done, but helping me monitor my heart, and impressing upon me that a sinful reaction from me would be more serious than whatever they are saying or doing, are the most effective ways she can serve me.
Sadly, over the years we have witnessed couples in ministry where wives have taken up an offense.
And this doesn’t just apply to sinful criticism, but also to when a husband is legitimately corrected by a member of the pastoral team or a member of the church. So you need both those categories. It’s difficult when those serving with your husband correct him in a certain area or bring an unfavorable evaluation. A wife might find herself more vulnerable to taking up an offense when her husband has been corrected. I am grateful for the way Carolyn has served me by not taking up an offense. And numerous times she has agreed with the correction, protecting me from arrogantly dismissing the correction and preventing me from sowing discord among those I serve in ministry.
So, whether it’s sinful criticism or legitimate correction of me, how do you guard your heart, Carolyn?
Carolyn: Wives should carefully listen to what’s being said. If there is something legitimate, bring that lovingly and carefully to your husband. I don’t think it serves a husband for a wife to just take the side of the person bringing criticism. But if there is a degree of truth, bring that in a way that serves him.
And just helping to mirror back to him what you are hearing him say. If he is sinning in response to the criticism, where appropriate, lovingly mirror that back to him: “It seems like this is how you are responding. Is this true? Are you offended at this person? Are you bitter?” Asking skillful questions.
It takes a lot of prayer and soul-searching in our own hearts to keep our hearts free from taking up an offense. But we must have a conviction about our role as our husband’s helper and ask, “What will truly help my husband?” It will not help him if I’m adding to the temptation he’s already experiencing. If he is being corrected or criticized, he’s already got a battle he is fighting. And if I come along and agree and participate in that, it makes his battle more difficult.
My husband has gone through seasons of correction, and it’s a temptation and fight. So I find myself having to pray for those who bring criticism or correction and filling my own heart with appropriate Scriptures so I can be a true helper to him during that time.
C.J.: Yes, but where they have been accurate observations—whether critics analyzing or friends correcting—you have courageously transferred that to me. Too often I have not been grateful in the moment. Eventually, I am grateful.
Would you say that one of the biggest challenges these ladies will confront as pastors wives is will be—when they hear the criticism or correction and they find there are aspects they agree with—how to inform their husbands of that without appearing to support any sinful attitude of others?
Carolyn: Yes. And I have through the years seen wives not do that, I’ve seen the effect and the outcome, and it has put the fear of God in me. At the moment it’s not always easy to take a stand and say, “I don’t think you’re responding humbly to this situation right now.” And it takes courage. Yet we’ve seen, because we’ve been in ministry for as many as we have, some very sad situations where I think wives really could have been the difference-maker if they would have challenged or confronted their husbands.
C.J.: So wouldn’t you say that over the years that some wives misunderstood submission and honor (or so it appears)? I think that has played a role. And for some it could be fear of man—fear of husband.
I can tell you this: For any marriage, correction of the husband by the wife would be one category on my short list of most important. If I observed a wife who was reluctant to correct her husband I would be concerned with that marriage. Obviously, I’m not arguing for a contentious marriage, but correction, humbly communicated, must be part of every marriage.
Part of what Carolyn has modeled personally and taught well is what she taught at the last Leadership Conference—“Watch Your Man”—in broadening an understanding and application of “helper” to include appropriate correction. I would argue that correction is not just part of marriage but an aspect of what it means to be fellow heirs of the grace of life.
Carolyn’s encouragement has been of immeasurable benefit to me, but equally so or more, on balance, has been her correction. She has protected me when sin was deceiving me. What a gift this has been to me!
February 4, 2008 by C.J. Mahaney
Categories: Humility | Sports
Most of what you read and hear today about the Super Bowl will involve what took place on the field. I don’t need to add to this noise, and I wouldn’t have anything unique to add. (Although how could Belichick have gone for it on 4th and 13 and not kicked a field goal from the 49-yard line in the third quarter?)
Obviously my prediction of an easy win by the Patriots was slightly off. Personally, I didn’t think it was a great game -- but it was a great 4th quarter. And I can’t believe I was rooting for the Giants. And I can’t believe I am happy they won. Actually, I was more interested in what would take place after the game. I was leaning forward as the game ended, eager to observe what Bill Belichick would do. How would he respond to this test of adversity and his first taste of defeat this year? Would he be humble and gracious in defeat?
Sadly, he didn’t appear to be. Before the game officially ended he had already left the field. Sure, he did make his way across the field to congratulate Tom Coughlin, but then he left the field and the game was not over! He should have returned to the field to take his place as coach for the final play of the game. He should have humbly returned to the sideline and set an example as the leader of this team. This game will be difficult, if not impossible, for the Patriots to forget, but Belichick could have set an example for his team that would have transcended the game. He could have set an example of humility they would never forget.
I stayed up after the game for one reason. I knew they would interview Belichick, and I wanted to hear what he would say. I hoped he would at least congratulate the Giants on their victory. He did not. He missed yet another opportunity to provide a compelling and humble example of how to conduct oneself when one has lost the game.
Though many will write about what took place on the field during the game, I thought his actions at the end of the game and after the game were the most disappointing aspects of the game. And this is the stuff I review and emphasize with my son as we talk about the game. This is what I want him to remember and learn from this game.
But I must pay careful attention to my heart as I critique coach Belichick, because I am vulnerable to my own more serious expression of arrogance as I observe Bill Belichick. In critiquing coach Belichick and teaching my son biblical discernment and the importance of godly character, I must avoid a self-righteous attitude.
Bill Belichick is not the worst sinner I know. I am the worst sinner I know. For am I most familiar with the countless sins I have committed against God, the countless times I have responded in a similar way as Mr. Belichick when I have encountered the test of adversity. Though it doesn’t appear Bill Belichick is a humble man, I know I am not a humble man.
I am a proud man who is pursuing humility only by the grace of God. And it is only by the grace of God that I have been saved from the wrath of God against my sins. It is only by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, on the cross, as my substitute for my sins, that I am forgiven of my many sins and have hope for the weakening of pride in my life. And therefore the appropriate response to what I observed in Mr. Belichick last night is to pray that he will become aware of his need for a Savior and turn from his sins and trust the Savior.
So today after examining my heart for any trace of self-righteousness, any hint of moral superiority in my soul, I have prayed that God would use these circumstances to obtain the attention of Bill Belichick. I pray that God would strategically provide individuals to care for this man at this time and share the gospel with him. And I pray that God would have mercy on him and grant him the gift of repentance so this most disappointing experience would become for him a means of encountering the most amazing experience, the grace of God in the gospel of Christ and him crucified.