How a player or coach responds to failure is revealing. During a slump, after a bad play or pitch, during a series of losses…players and coaches are put to the test during those times. Some handle it well, continuing to maintain their composure and work ethic in the face of difficult times. Others fall apart, giving in to negative emotions and a quitter’s mentality as their baseball world becomes a struggle.
Going through the fire of failure brings out who a person is, but it’s still not the greatest test of character.
Proverbs 27:21–“The crucible is for silver and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by the praise accorded to him.”
According to the Scripture, nothing brings out who we really are like being praised.
Praise is a direct test of our honesty. Will we be honest with ourselves, knowing that praise is often exaggerated? Will we be honest with God, knowing we did nothing–zero–to earn the talent we were simply born with? Will we be honest with those praising us, knowing that we didn’t get where we are on our own?
Praise is a direct test of our humility. Will we believe we truly are great and therefore deserving of deference? Will we believe we are above the rules everyone else must follow? Will we believe no one else really “gets” it but us?
Praise is a direct test of our honor. When that verse says that a “man” is tested, it’s pointing to who that “man” really is. More than failure, success and praise bring out more of what’s already in our hearts. Pride? Condescension? Neediness? Power-seeking? Whatever your weaknesses are, praise will put them on steroids.
Let truth balance praise. Yes, you might be a great player, coach, or parent, but we all are flawed. Yes, you might have accomplished some things on the field, but you are still in need of someone to accomplish everything for you off the field–his name is Jesus. Yes, you might be well-known and successful, but you are just a person like anyone else.
Praise will come your way at some point. Be prepared and let Jesus get the glory he alone deserves.
Lord Jesus, you and you alone are to be praised. When people tell me I’m great, help me to turn that praise back to you. Amen.