Please, Please…. Don’t Toot your Own Horn

I love watching sports.  Gymnastics, swimming, diving, skating, soccer, volleyball, skiing. You name it; I have probably watched it. Hey, during the winter Olympics I even watch curling.

When I was a kid I would watch ABC’s Wide World of Sports most Saturday afternoons.   After all these years I can still hear Jim McKay saying, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” and see the skier flipping wildly down the slope completely out of control.

Yep, I am an enthusiastic spectator. In my younger years I was a cheerleader which maybe explains my shouts of encouragement to athletes who are so far away on the field they look like ants.

I have always been a sucker for humility in the sports world. I love the MVP who deflects glory and points out the accomplishments of his teammates.  It is just so right to acknowledge that personal success should be attributed, at least in part, to teammates, coaches, and family support.  Some people even recognize they play well because of an ability given by God.

I guess it’s because I appreciate humility so much that I notice when athletes are cocky.  There is nothing more cringe-worthy than the person who does the end-zone dance; the “I’m all that” strut; the chest thumping; the one who actually says to reporters, “I’m the best.”  Seriously?  Get over yourself.

And it isn’t limited to sports figures.  Any political campaign is overflowing with candidates boasting of their seemingly supernatural ability to do the job that awaits.   Just once I would love to hear a candidate admit their opponent is actually just as capable as they are of doing the job, and tell us the bald truth “I just really, really want this job.”

The Academy Awards is a night devoted to self-acclamation.  It is three hours of celebrities patting themselves on the back.  Evidently the adulation of fans is not enough to assure them of their talent, so once a year they flock together to heap praise on one another.  (Just wondering… does this sound matter-of-fact or simply whiny?)

And now I arrive at the saddest part of this little essay:  this attitude of self-promotion is seen even in followers of Jesus.  His followers have been taught to think more highly of others than they do of themselves, but the lesson doesn’t sink in very deep.

A Christian might be thinking, “Well, I certainly don’t brag about myself“,  but I think it’s more subtle than that.  Ask yourself,  Do I tend to think that my way is the best way to do something?  Do I push to make that happen? Am I quietly critical of how other people fulfill their roles?  Do I have a secret desire to promote myself?  It looks different from the chest thumping athlete, but the underlying sentiment is the same:  I am worthy.

Pride.  It’s something that is hard to see in ourselves and easy to see in others.  Above all other vices it is singularly unattractive.  King Solomon must have run across a few braggarts in his day because he saw the need to include this bit of advice in his writings:

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips. Proverbs 27:1

When the followers of Jesus get this figured out, maybe we can pass the lesson on to the rest of the world.

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10 thoughts on “Please, Please…. Don’t Toot your Own Horn

    • It is my daily struggle as well. When I was in India I saw a snake charmer coax a cobra out of its basket. I learned that a cobra can lift up to 1/3 of his body off the ground before he prepares to strike. The King Cobra’s venom is always fatal and can even kill an elephant. I think my pride is like this. It is a rearing up of myself before I strike out. The venom of pride is hurtful. I know I have been the recipient of attacks, and I am sorry to confess that I have also been the striking snake. My pride may show itself in relations, or more fearfully, it may cause me to stand against God.

      I too am thankful that God continues to show me my pride and helps me to fight against it.

  1. Our sediments exactly about the Academy Awards. We all said the exact thing as we turned on 5 minutes of it. Such self-absorbtion for what? Looking good? Why dont they have awards like this for Doctors who just saved another life and spent 12 years in school? Inventors who made walking without legs a reality? All of our talents are God given and we need to find them and put them to good use in this world.

    • I agree. I just saw a video posted on Facebook that showed a high school basketball game in which a player from an opposing team threw the ball to a developmentally delayed player on the other team so that he could score a basket in the final seconds of the game. This unselfish act brought tears to my eyes. He exemplified what Paul taught “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

  2. I have no idea what you’re talking about… I haven’t watched the Academy Awards in many years 😉 Pride on the other hand affects every aspect of my life unfortunately. I would even go out on a limb and say that any argument I’ve every had with anyone I’ve ever known had pride as it’s deepest root. The answer? Hebrews 4:12-13 “12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” It’s been painful and difficult but well worth it. If only there wasn’t so much more for Him to accomplish. But then… if I’d only cooperate……… there goes that pride again.

    • Well, now I know who NOT to ask for Oscar info. 🙂
      I agree that the vast majority of interpersonal problems probably stems back to pride. I am so thankful for the work of the Sword in my life, and God’s never failing gentle persuasion to be obedient to what the Word tells me.

  3. In small groups we have been talking about pride — it being the root of all sin perhaps. I was reading in Burrough’s book again, and today I was meditating on some of his insights:
    I am nothing, I deserve nothing, I can do nothing. Total surrender. Only because of Christ can we be anything, have anything, or do anything. I am in the midst of a study on this…yes, I think we are all prideful and struggle to rid ourselves of it, cuz it is sinful nature that infests our earthly existence. It’s that constant battle & process of taking off the old man and putting on the new man…..

  4. Yes, and we clutch our old man tightly to ourselves! I think pride is particularly dangerous because it seems to be one of the hardest sins to see in ourselves.

  5. Enjoyed the parallel to believers as well as the blogs responding to your thoughts and your responses to their blogs:). Very encouraging/confirming of issues I’m dealing with (or not dealing with?) in my own life. God is so faithful to show us what we need to see for our good and for others good. That old man just doesn’t want to die!

    Thanks all!

    • No dealing with…. I like that! Pride has so many layers that it is hard to unpeel them all. The Lord is the only one who can do it, layer by layer. The Lord bless you as He continues to make you more and more like Jesus.

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