The 2020 Olympic games have been postponed, if they had been held the opening ceremony would have taken place this Friday. With that in mind I decided to write this week about a previous year’s Olympics. The 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London produced may new American heroes, especially 16-year-old Gabby Douglas, the petite gymnast who captured our hearts with her phenomenal skills and contagious smile.
Many Americans also became fans of athletes from other countries. Even those who did not watch the Olympics that year heard of Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter who picked up two gold medals. The name “Bolt” conjures up images of speed, and he more than lived up to his name. Many believe he is the fastest man who has ever lived. He is the only person in history to ever hold world records in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4X100-meter relay at the same time. He would ultimately win eight Olympic gold medals.
His incredible speed earned him the nickname “Lightning Bolt.” However, he lives up to his name in another way as well. His ego was nearly as amazing as his speed. On Thursday during the 2012 games he referred to himself as a “living legend” more than 20 times. He put himself in the same category as sports greats Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordon. Although that level of self-promotion is unattractive, most shrugged it off because of his phenomenal athletic ability.
Then, Bolt stepped over the line by not merely comparing himself with other great athletes, but by trashing America’s greatest track and field star, Carl Lewis, a man who won nine Olympic gold medals. He said, “Carl Lewis, I have no respect for him… nobody remembers who he is…”
Unfortunately, Bolt needed to learn a quaint country proverb that I heard when I was a boy, “A shut mouth gathers no foot.” Before the sprinter’s arrogant put down, many believed he might become one of the world’s best paid product representatives. After demonstrating that he could not only run fast but could also shove his entire foot into his mouth, we were uncertain.
The Bible has a lot to say about pride and humility. Jesus put it this way, “…If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” (Luke 14:11, MSG)
Jesus’ point is simply that to become all we can be, we need to realize we are not as impressive as we are tempted to believe. Although Usain Bolt needed to learn that lesson, the rest of us will do well to learn it too. Until we fall flat on our face, many of us fail to realize the importance of keeping our attitudes in check and our mouths shut.
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