The words echoed of the walls and fell with a thud. We had been running, throwing, hitting and diving for the last two plus hours. With each passing hour, we became more aware of the 99 degree heat that the sun relentlessly sprayed across the artificial baseball field. The glue began easing out the side of my cleats. The less fortunate guys crawled to the grandstands and began puking their guts out.
Those of us who survived that day, managed to scramble into the dugout a little before 2PM. Windy and soaked in salt-stained sweet, we gave the head coach our full attention. He briefly thanked us for show up on that miserable July afternoon. Then he said the words the felt like an anvil sinking to the bottom of my heart. “There was no one special here today.”
Though the words were full of disappointment, they have since become a moto for me. I plan to call my autobiography, ‘No One Special.’ But do not get to excited. I have no plans to write it anytime soon, or really ever. But if I do, I have the title. I believe that is approximately around 90% of the work. Anyways, I digress.
I think back to that coach’s words often because they are a great reminder of reality. I am not special. Yes, I am made in the image of God. But when I evaluate my abilities my skills, and my life, I am ultimately no one special. I have no right to demand that others put me on their team, listen to my opinions, or defer to my prejudices.
If I do have the opportunity to play for a team, to win the ear of a friend, or to gain the respect of a coworker, those abilities and moments are all gifts from above. We essentially have the ability to be noticed, respected, and honored because God has blessed us. I.e, we are not inherently special.
The apostle Paul tackled our insignificance this way. He wrote, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.” Romans 12:16
Many people in and around our churches today lack harmony because they are haughty and think themselves wise. I knew a dad who regularly lambasted his son’s 2nd grade teachers and the other adults in his sons life. His son was always in trouble because of what the teachers did. The teachers failed to understand the boy, they failed to listen to the boy, and they failed at failing the boy. In short, the dad and his son were above reproach. The dad cared nothing about the fact that his boy talked back in class, fell asleep during school, and regularly refused to do his homework. He and his son ignored everything the Bible said about respecting those in authority. They refused to listen to the Bible and to the biblical counsel of our Senior Pastor. They were haughty and were wise in their own sight. They always knew what their problem was. They cared little for living in harmony with others and regularly attacked, belittled, and verbally assaulted anyone who criticized them. They failed to grasp that they were not special.
Sadly, they are not alone. I blow up at my kids for messing up the family photo. I am quick to become defensive when my wife and others challenge my ideas. And I fall into worry because someone does not immediately return my phone call. I do all these things and more because I become prideful, haughty, and self-confident. I forget that I am not special.
Those who over estimate their value are destined for failure. James 4:6 says that, “God opposes the proud.” Those who are wise in their own eyes and who are quick to blame others for their sins and the sins of their kids will not find peace. They will find broken relationships, discord, and every kind of evil. They will feel alienated from their schools, churches, and friends because they have deemed themselves more special than those around them. Those with prideful hearts stand outside the will of God.
The solution for broken relationships is not more self-justification and more explanations of everyone’s else’s problems. The antidote for the prideful heart is humility. God tells us that God, “gives grace to the humble…Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you…humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:6-10). We need to confess our sins to our friends, teachers, and pastors. We need to encourage our children to confess their sins. We find peace only when we humble ourselves. We find joy and happiness when we realize that, “I am no one special.”
I was not special enough to make my college baseball team. But they guys on the team and the coaches also turned out not to be all that special. The Athletic director fired the coach at the end of that season because the coach’s main gift appeared to be leading young men to lose. Even off the field, the team had knack for losing. They regularly flunked their exams and spawned the moniker “Geology for Jocks.” Evidently, they did finally find one class that a few lucky ones could pass.
I share all this not because I want to bash my baseball team. I truly love my alma mater. I share above story because it illustrates what the coach told all of us that hot summer day. No one is special. No one is above needing correction, no one is above being fired, and no one is above failing. To live well, we must live humbly boasting in our God and all his God gifts. At the end of the day, “There is no one special here.”
Are you ready for those words to sink in?