As most of you know, I enjoy sports. I enjoy playing sports of all kinds, I enjoying inventing sports (made up a few competitive games in my day) and I enjoy watching sports. If the competition is good, I’ll watch just about anything. I remember the night I realized how sick I was when I was watching a highly competitive dart throwing match on ESPN 2...at 3am after getting up with one of the kids.
A few weekends back the Players Championship was held by the PGA. Tiger Woods won the match on the fourth day of the tournament, following a verbal sparring match he had with fellow golfer, Sergio Garcia. A day before Tiger’s win, Sergio had questioned some of Tiger’s field etiquette, and Tiger basically called Sergio a whiner. Probably both guys were right!
But what interested me most was Sergio’s interview after the event. And in particular, this one line when Garcia was asked if there was anything he would change about his banter with Tiger:
“It sounds like I was the bad guy here. I was the victim.”
Let me begin by being particularly clear: I am not, nor ever have been, a professional golfer. Some who have golfed with me would be shocked by such a statement, but it’s true. I have never had my “Q Card” and have never been invited to one of the four Majors. So I don’t know what that kind of golfing pressure is like.
However, I think I’m highly qualified to speaking on the issue of victimhood. Playing the victim card doesn’t require any professional certification. In fact, some of the best victims have achieved nothing in life precisely because of how well they play that card. I have played that card myself on numerous occasions in my life.
Whether Tiger purposefully tried to hinder Sergio’s success in the Players Championship or not, will never full be resolved. From Sergio’s perspective, Tiger used the crowd to get into Sergio’s head. From Tiger’s perspective, he couldn’t even see Sergio’s play and therefore he did nothing to intentionally distract his opponent. But this one fact remains: Sergio is a victim.
But he was not a victim to Tiger’s alleged actions, he was a victim to his own mindset. He lost that tournament a few weekends back because he chose the path of least resistance -- he took the easy way out the moment he blamed Tiger. And worse? He will learn nothing from this event that will help him overcome a similar circumstance in the future.
Oddly, Sergio has never contacted me for life-coaching, but we can all learn from his choice to play victim. Just like you cannot win a pressure driven round of championship level golf while playing the victim, you cannot live the Overboard Life when you sit back and blame your failures and lack of progress on the actions of others. You can’t parent from faith while playing victim. You can’t forgive, love, give grace, offer truth or even get along with your spouse when you play victim. God didn’t give you a spirit of fear or weakness, but rather He offers His children one of tenacity and strength -- one that is able to overcome in every circumstance because God’s power rests behind it! (2 Timothy 1:7)
When victims are looking to be offended, Overboard-ers* are looking to provide mercy and grace. When victims blame others, Overboard-ers are accepting responsibility and rising up to the challenge. When victims are staying put in the boat because circumstances aren’t quite right, Overboard-ers are already on the water, striving to reach where Jesus is working. When victims can’t forgive because the hurt is too deep, Overboard-ers remember how much God forgave them, and they are eager to forgive and move forward. And when victims wallow in self-pity, Overboard-ers are moving forward in a God-given confidence that even the worst of circumstances can be used by an Almighty God to make priceless art from the most horrendous trash. You can’t live Overboard and play victim.
Imagine how much different Sergio’s interview could have been if he had rejected the victim card:
Reporter: Sergio, how much did the crowd, responding to Tiger’s play, affect your shot.
Sergio: Great question. I think I let it get to me more than I should have.
Reporter: Do you think Tiger was trying to mess with your mind?
Sergio: Wow, I hadn’t thought of it like that. If he was, that means he saw me as a threat to have won the tournament, and next time I’ll have to live up to that perspective. Whether he was, or wasn’t, the fact is -- I let it get to me and that’s why he won, and I didn’t.
Reporter: That is such a cheesy response.
Sergio: My life coach, Joe Castañeda, is helping me work on the mental side of my game, including my responses. Thank you for your brutal honesty, I’ll work on that too….
(I can dream, can’t I?)
These three things are true of everyone living as a victim:
- Decision are based on fear, not faith.
- You must find ways to blame others, instead of moving forward with personal responsibility.
- More time is spent regretting, than rejoicing.
Rise above being a victim. Play at a high level in whatever ‘game’ God has called you to, and as you do, watch God do amazing work in and through you.
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!
*An “Overboard-er” [plural: Overboard-ers] is the term given to one choosing to live Overboard. Can be personalized, as in, “I am an Overboard-er”. Often used to describe someone who is perpetually grabbing the side of the proverbially boat and jumping sea-ward. For example, “That [insert name here] sure loves being an Overboard-er.