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Around the world in recent months sporting events have received considerable media attention over the lack of self-control displayed by players, coaches, and fans. One has to wonder, what is going on in the sports world?Recently my wife and I watched a basketball game in a high school gymnasium. One of the players also participates in our church youth group. We wanted to see him play. We expected to enjoy a well contested game between rival high school teams. But sadly, our anticipated joy was overshadowed by the disappointing behavior of one of the coaches.
Soccer games have turned into riots, baseball players have been attacked by 'fans,' and a melee of fisticuffs and throwing chairs marred a NBA game. Even parents are now being banned from Little League baseball games in some areas for their lack of self-control.
One has to wonder, what is going on in the sports world? The answer might be: We now put up with a lack of self-control at games that we once took for granted as obviously unacceptable.
While the disappointing high school coach was not physically violent, he spent much of the game running up and down the sideline yelling at his players. Instead of letting them play their game and build confidence, he belittled them in front of everyone in the gym for any mistakes they made. The players on his team dropped their eyes to the floor and pretended to concentrate on the game, but their embarrassment was obvious. Their level of play declined as his yelling and criticism increased. Needless to say, his team lost the game.
An important rule of managing people is: Always praise in public; criticize, if you must, only in private. This advice reflects the Bible principle "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Romans:13:9). None of us wants to be corrected or humiliated in front of others, especially in front of family members or classmates.
If the basketball coach had understood this one rule his entire approach to coaching would have been different and his chances of winning games greatly improved. But despite having talented players, his team ended up the season with only one win.
If we want to be our best and bring out the best in others we need to follow the rules of treating others with the same respect that we would like to receive from them. Where do you find those rules? The simple answer: in the Word of God. The Bible is full of wisdom and sage admonitions concerning what we ought to say and how we ought to treat other people.
Increasingly, most of Western society now openly rejects advice from the Bible. The obvious result is an increase in violence and uncontrolled outbursts of anger at all levels. Also, many professional athletes no longer become positive role models for the youth who admire them.
Consider what would happen if the following principles were followed in the sports world:
- "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his own spirit than he who takes a city" (Proverbs:6:32).
- "Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools" (Ecclesiastes:7:9).
- "Let no corrupt words proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification" (Ephesians:4:29).
- "Do not provoke your children to wrath …" (Ephesians:6:4).
During this coming week, take a few moments each day to reflect upon this cardinal rule of good management relationships: Always praise in public; criticize, if you must, only in private. If you let this rule guide you in your workplace, in your family, and in your social life much more rewarding relationships will be the natural result.
Following the outstanding example of Jesus Christ is always rewarding. To do that successfully we need the foundational knowledge of good relationships revealed throughout God's word, the Bible. Most of us also need assistance in putting the various pieces of that knowledge together in our own minds in a truly meaningful way (Romans:10:14).