If there’s one thing I’ve learned about coaches and parents at the amateur level, many of them want to be known as something great. We try all sorts of things to accomplish this. In some cases, we name-drop, try to impress people who we believe have “arrived,” and some have even resorted to outright lying about what they know and what they’re done.

Proverbs 25:6-7 speaks to this. “Do not claim honor in the presence of the king, and do not stand in the place of great men. For it is better that it be said to you, ‘Come up here,’ than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince, whom your eyes have seen.”

The Bible often speaks of pride-driven ambition. Hint: it’s not good. In line with the thought of this proverb, here are four ways to avoid such ambition.

1. Stop trying to prove what you know. 

Just know it. Believe in it. Get to work on it. Let that be enough. Trust me, even if you prove it to someone, there will always be someone else in line who doesn’t know what you know. Let it go and let it be enough.

2. Stop looking at others as better than you because of their position.

In every realm of life, the speakers at the conferences are always the ones whose records suggest they know what they’re talking about. We elevate them, worship them, listen to them, and try to imitate them. We assign them personal worth based on their position as Hall of Famer, Head Coach, or whatever. And what a shame. People are people, regardless of the position we assign them or they earn here on earth. We all stand on equal ground before God, from our conception to our death. Look for your value not in comparison to others, but in the love and grace offered you through the cross of Jesus.

3. Stop trying to get to the next level. 

Maybe this one is just for coaches and parents. Players, by all means, strive to be the best you can be, wherever that might take you in the end. But Coach, hear me on this…sometimes the “next level,” whatever the step up for you would be, isn’t worth what you lose getting there. It won’t validate you like you think it will. It won’t finally make you recognized as great in the eyes of the people that really matter. So, stop trying to get there. Just do what’s right, right now, where you are, for as long as you are there. If the next level is where God wants you, get there on his timing.

Parents, your kid might be a special talent and he might not. Either one is great, so long as you simply just love them instead of obsessing over whether or not they make it to the next level. This is monumentally difficult, given the tendency we have as humans to compete with one another. But, your worth as a parent isn’t tied to your kid’s ability at the current level or any other. It’s tied to your unconditional love for your child.

4. Stop playing the game and just play the game.

Who will be the ones who simply do what is right, even if it gets them nowhere and no recognition? Who will be the ones who stick to their convictions, even when the tide goes against them? Who will refuse to get caught up in the nasty games of amateur sports and simply help and nurture kids (I believe you can develop them as both young men and as players!)?

How determined are you to “stand in the presence of great men”? It might ruin you if you aren’t careful.

Lord Jesus, today, I repent of my pride-driven ambition. Help me to have one ambition: to please you in all I do. Amen.