Four days after Sunday’s big football games, and everyone is still talking about the action on and off the field. Of particular conversation are the words and actions of Seattle Seahawk’s player, Richard Sherman after finalizing the Seattle’s win over the 49ers. As a passionate sports fan myself, I had to laugh at the divide that happened instantly between fans. Seattle fans quickly defended Sherman as being caught up in the moment, getting even for past grievances, and 49ers fans called his actions “classless” and “embarrassing”. Whether you think he is a Stanford grad using his IQ to stir up controversy and keep his name in the media, or a man ranting like a child, this much is true: he sure got us talking.
Then interviews started happening, video clips were circulating on youtube and facebook, and apologies were issued and fans' entrenchment was even stronger! Was Sherman starting something or was he the victim of bad sportsmanship? I listened to a solid hour of talk about the series of events surrounding the Sunday interview and subsequent words, and this one thing I know -- it will continue to be a major piece of conversation leading up the Superbowl.
As I scrolled through my FB feed after the game, I was struck by how much the one moment evoked so much emotion on both sides of the debate. After reading a great blog that was written rapidly in response to the incident, I started putting down my thoughts. And really, it boils down to just one key Overboard concept:
Character is tested AND proven in the big moments of life.
Whatever you think about Richard’s comments and actions -- whether they were uncalled for, or a justified part of a trash-talking game and sports culture -- the reality is that his character was revealed in what he did and said. And the same is true for you and I when our emotions or reactions overflow into outward expression. Whether it’s because of sheer joy and elation, or because of frustration and anger, your “moments” of expression aren’t the building blocks of your character, they are the reflection of the character that has already been formed.
Many years ago I was driving around town with a pastor when we were blatantly, and somewhat dangerously, cut off in traffic. Instantly my friend threw together a series of profanities. In the moment, he got caught up and let the offending driver know that his actions were unacceptable. I couldn’t really blame him could I? He immediately turned to me and said, “Sorry for that…I don’t usually lose it like that.”
Maybe he doesn’t normally use profanity in such instances, but the reality is that in the moment of that driving day, he did lose it, and what was revealed was a glimpse into how he handles his anger. And I don’t have to look to my friends or acquaintances to see such examples, my own life overflows with moments that reveal what’s going on in my own heart. We all have opportunities to see our character revealed in moments where life throws a curve, justice slaps us in the face or where we overcome great opposition and experience extreme waves of joy!
Jesus said it this way, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). In other words, the character that’s being formed inside of you and me will evidence itself in the moments of life.
How is your character revealed in the moment when...
* An unlikable employee is the recipient of praise, or raise, you don’t think they deserve?
* You get cut-off in traffic?
* You beat out a competitor for a contract bid?
* When the waitress messes up your order…again?
* Your team wins?
* Your team loses?
* The house doesn’t look like you think it should after a busy day at work?
* Your spouse shuts you down?
* Your kid’s report card is way better than your friends’ kids?
* You’ve just won the NFC championship?
* You’ve just lost the NFC championship?
* Someone writes an FB post that makes you outraged?
* Your politician gets dumped on?
* You least favorite politicians gets their way?
I believe character is forged in the day-to-day grind of how we try to live our lives. Then, in moments, sometimes special, sometimes fun and joyous, sometimes filled with anger and frustration, the character we’ve forged emerges clearly for all to see. I’m definitely not proud of some of those moments in my life, but I know this: what came out wasn’t an accident. Whatever words or actions came from me were rooted deeply in the character that had been forged in the hours, days and weeks when no one was paying much attention.
What is revealed about your character in the moments of life?
Are you intentionally connecting with God each day, so that your character is developing with His help?
What areas of your life often reveal aspects of struggle for you? How can you game plan to create wins in those moments?
Go ahead and take the plunge, life is always better on the water!