What’s the limit of your character? Have you found it yet? That point at which you begin to change for the worst in order to achieve the things you desire. That point at which your success or failure begins to bring out things in you that are better left hidden.
Most of us believe we can handle success. We are convinced that the solution to our problems is just getting to the next level as a player or coach. So we spend our time working and praying for those things to happen. We seldom stop to consider whether or not we have the strength of character to sustain whatever might come with that next level.
There’s an incredibly wise prayer in Proverbs 30:7-9. Read it slowly.
“Two things I asked of thee, do not refuse me before I die: keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food that is my portion, lest I become full and deny thee and say, ‘who is the Lord?’ Or lest I be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God.”
This is really incredible. Here is a man who takes seriously the limits of his character. He knows himself well. So he prays that God would not give him so much that he would become arrogant and assume he no longer needs the Lord. And he prays that he would not have so little that he would fail to trust God, steal what he needs, and thereby bring shame on the name of the Lord.
Now, this isn’t a prayer that God wouldn’t give him success or that God wouldn’t let him deal with any failure. It’s really a prayer that relies on God’s wisdom instead of ours. God knows how much success and failure we can handle. He knows those limits.
Put another way, here’s a prayer for players and coaches to repeat often:
“Lord, my prayer is simple. Make me a man of honor, someone who can be trusted, who doesn’t cut corners as a player or coach. Also, please don’t let my success ever outpace my character. Show me how to honor you before success comes, so that I’ll handle it well when it does. Finally, please don’t lead me through more failure than my character can sustain. Strengthen my faith now, so that when failure comes, I will be ready for the test.”
Not too much. Not too little. Lord, that’s my prayer. Shape my heart and character to handle it all.