Posts tagged taking responsibility

Deflating your ego



FootballsDeflatedJeffKemp
Few quarterbacks have dominated the NFL like Tom Brady. In his 13 full seasons, he has led the New England Patriots to four Super Bowl titles.  What he may lack in raw talent, he makes up for in hard work. He watches lots of game film and pays attention to detail on and off the field, which is a common character quality of someone who performs at the highest level like he does.

But now the reputation of the reigning Super Bowl MVP is tarnished, with the league recently announcing that he will be suspended for the first four games of the upcoming season for participating in the deflating of footballs in the first half of the AFC championship game.

Breaking the rules, as the NFL has claimed, may not have been the most damaging thing Tom Brady did. He may not have even been suspended if he had admitted early on to his involvement (whatever that was) and apologized to the league for his indiscretion.  Instead he allowed his agent to speak for him and deny even knowing of a scandal.

But after spending months reviewing the evidence surrounding the “DeflateGate” scandal, the NFL found enough in text messages to confidently say that Brady was involved in some way. And now public opinion has turned against him, with about 70 percent of avid football fans believing Brady cheated.

Let’s face it: if you don’t take the blame for your own mistakes (as small or as big as they may be) other people will spend their time, effort, and energy putting the blame on you. I learned that lesson in my last year with the Seattle Seahawks and gained a great appreciation for the importance of accepting responsibility. Even though I wasn’t involved in a cheating scandal or at the center of some controversy, the incident did involve my integrity.

I was the starting quarterback with the Seattle Seahawks and we had just suffered a 20-13 loss in an important game with Kansas City. In press interviews after the game, rather than own up to my shortcomings, I chose to play the optimist. “We’re going to do better next week; we’re going to turn the corner and go forward.”

It wasn’t until later in the week that I realized the damage that I had done. Eugene Robinson, a great friend and teammate, came up to me and told me privately, “Dude, a bunch of the coaches and defensive guys are questioning whether you’re a stand-up guy or an excuse maker. They don’t think you’re owning up to your responsibility for that loss.”

Their criticism wasn’t aimed at my skills or performance, but at who I am—my character. As I wrote in my book, Facing the Blitz:

They thought that, in my optimism, I’d left the blame with the team instead of taking my part in it. Not only had I contributed to the loss, it seemed I wasn’t being an accountable and trustworthy leader.

I felt misread and misjudged. I decided to talk privately to a couple of the defensive coaches who reportedly held these concerns. I told them I was my own worst critic and knew I’d fallen way short of what we needed to win. I knew I’d played a major role in our loss. … My team wanted to hear that I understood my role in our loss. My play wasn’t the only reason we lost, but they needed to see that, first, I got it, and second, I was willing to take the heat, not simply leave it with my teammates and coaches.

The bottom-line issue isn’t the results of your actions as much as what it says about your character. Whether it’s me playing down my part in a loss or Tom Brady refusing to admit even an awareness of the team fudging on league rules, the ends still don’t justify the means.

Another NFL great quarterback recently weighed in on the “DeflateGate” controversy. Brett Favre believes that even if Tom Brady broke the rules it wasn’t really cheating because it didn’t affect the outcome of the game. He was just doing what everyone else does—trying to get a competitive edge.

A common philosophy in the world, and in the world of professional sports is, “If you’re not getting caught every once in a while, you’re not working hard enough.” It’s ironic that someone as good as Brady would feel a need to do something that has so little impact on the outcome of the game to gain a competitive advantage.

Deflating your ego

Maybe an even bigger issue is what happens when you make it to the top of the heap, or the top of the league. You begin to believe the hype that everything depends on you. You may even begin to see yourself as a special case. You then justify actions that for most everyday people would be indefensible.

American society invites a pride and hubris in its successful people, and that is reflected in how Tom Brady and his agent have continued to oppose the NFL investigation. Pride and hubris aren’t attractive to the public. Pride lets you think you can do things differently because you think you are special. It’s easy to get sidetracked when you’re in the spotlight and when you’re trying to keep up expectations as the being the best. But Scripture brings us back to reality:

“Pride comes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before the fall.”—Proverbs 16:18

“Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules.”—2 Timothy 2:5

But then there’s another scriptural reminder than keeps us from pointing the finger too much at others.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”—Galatians 6:1

My teammate Eugene Robinson helped me to open my eyes and see the impact of my actions. Issues like “DeflateGate” help us check our own character to see if we are cutting corners, cheating, or taking ethical shortcuts. And it’s a great opportunity to teach our kids valuable lessons about integrity and humility.

We’re just talking



One of the unique opportunities I have had in attending seminary, after ten years of marriage, is discipling young men who are single or dating. One of the disadvantages, however, is not being current on the lingo.

This struck me in a recent conversation with a friend who told me he had gone out several times with a young lady and was uncertain about the status of the relationship. Curious, I asked him if he was planning on continuing to date this girl.

“You misunderstand,” he said, “we aren’t dating — we’re just talking.”

“Talking?” I replied, a little confused, “you mean like we’re talking right now.”

“No,” he explained, “we’re at the stage of a relationship just before dating. It’s called talking.”

Dumbfounded and feeling a little old and disconnected, I decided to investigate this new pre-dating phenomenon. “Talking,” I discovered, is a widely accepted stage in current guy/girl relationships wherein a young man and a young woman get to know each other without better defining the relationship. This isn’t even a real stage of the relationship; it’s a pre-stage. They’re not just friends; they’re not really dating or pursuing marriage; they’re “talking.”

After these conversations, I was left with the question: Do we really need another stage in relationships that are directed toward marriage?

Shirking Responsibility

Our culture suffers from a large number of males wallowing around in quasi-manhood for many years. Boys used to grow up, get a job, and move out of the house. But we have inserted this chain of life stages from adolescence, to the college years, to early career, and so on — all of which permit young men to put off growing up, taking responsibility, and generally acting like a man.

This new phase of pre-dating called “talking” is like adolescence for relationships: an unnecessary stage in the relationship allowing young men to avoid taking responsibility and acting like men. It prevents the man from having to be clear about his intentions to pursue or end the relationship. If he wants to stop “talking,” he simply walks away, leaving behind a confused, and potentially wounded, young lady.

John Piper[1] defines biblical masculinity as, “a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationships.” It is the responsibility of the man to take a leadership role in relationships, to be forthright, honest, and clear about his intentions. This “talking” phase normalizes relationship without responsibility; closeness without clarity; cultural manhood, not biblical manhood.

The young ladies I’ve spoken to share this frustration. They are left in a state of relational limbo, where they are unsure of the young man’s intentions and the purpose of the relationship. They are stuck going on non-dates with guys who are scared to date.

In their defense, guys tell me they are afraid to ask a lady out because she might immediately assume he wants to marry her. I understand the concern, but that does not change the need for character — it makes it all the more necessary.

Intentionality Is a Way to Serve Sisters in Christ

First, you should ask girls out that you see as potential wives. Second, when you don’t see her as a potential wife any longer, explain yourself and then stop asking her out. Third, throughout the relationship be clear, upfront, and honest about your intentions. If you just want to get to know her better, tell her so. If you see this relationship turning into something more serious, tell her that too. If you think she’s a great girl but don’t want to pursue the relationship further, tell her! That’s the kind of “talking” that should characterize the relationship.

If things don’t work out, and if you’ve acted like a true man, you’ve gotten to know a sister in Christ better and helped prepare her to meet her future husband. If things do work out, congratulations, you’re married. Those are the only two options for a man of God.

If you are a young man intimidated by the prospect of intentionally pursuing a young woman as a wife, seek the Lord in fervent prayer. Search your heart and your intentions to ensure they are grounded in the gospel and informed by Scripture. With your conscience clear before the Lord and your heart and mind shaped by His word, stand confident in the care of your heavenly Father (and hers) and speak boldly to your sister in Christ. Our God is a God of truth, and your sister in Christ deserves to know the truth from you.

If you are a young lady stuck with a guy who isn’t interested in pursuing you but expects your prolonged time and attention as he “talks” to you, ask yourself if this is the type of indecisive boy-man you want to follow for the rest of your life. It is impossible to follow someone who will not lead. Find a man who will treat you as a sister in the Lord deserves to be treated: with honesty, integrity, and clarity.

It’s time to kiss “talking” goodbye. Our brothers and sisters in Christ deserve better than this.

 

[1] Piper, John. What’s the Difference?: Manhood and Womanhood Defined According to the Bible (Wheaton: Crossway Books), 23.

JD Gunter is a student and staff member at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Before coming to seminary, he served in various church leadership positions in addition to spending fifteen years in the automotive and finance industries. He and his wife Tiffany have been married ten years, have two children, and are active members at Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky.

A father, a son, and a lifelong lesson



lifelong lesson - Stepping Up

Bob Helvey, one of my colleagues here at FamilyLife, tells a great story about another father who stepped up and was intentional in training his son with a lifelong lesson.

When Bob was 10, he was a paperboy, and on one cold Virginia night, a gust of wind knocked him off his bike. Then he watched in shock as his bundle of newspapers came apart and blew away.  At that point, this boy had a choice: He could step up, be responsible, and retrieve all the papers, or he could give up and go home.  Bob did what boys do — he pedaled home.

When he arrived, his father said, “You sure finished your paper route early.” Bob explained what had happened, and then his father said, “Get your coat, Son, and meet me in the car.”

They drove to the scene of the crime, and Bob felt some satisfaction when he didn’t see any newspaper pages on the ground. But his dad parked and told Bob to follow him. They walked to a nearby house, where they were greeted by a man who invited them inside. There Bob was confronted with an amazing sight — an entire room full of newspaper pages! With hardly a word, the two men helped the young boy piece every newspaper back together. Then Bob proceeded to complete his paper route with his father as chauffeur.

A Lifelong Lesson

That character lesson was so powerful that Bob wrote about it 40 years later in a tribute to his father. “It was a little annoying that Dad didn’t give me a lecture,” Bob wrote. “He knew he didn’t have to. The everlasting warmth I felt of a difficult task completed, a duty fulfilled, was its own mentor.”  Bob wondered how his dad had known just where to go that day. Years later he learned that, after the accident, the neighbor had called his father to complain about his “good for nothing” son. “Together they conspired to teach a young boy a lifelong lesson,” Bob wrote. “It worked. The neighbor must have been a father too.”

God gives us a unique opportunity as fathers to join Him in what has to be one of the most noble, transcendent assignments we’ll ever have as men: He gives us the privilege of joining with Him in shaping the next generation of men. But we won’t fulfill those responsibilities unless we’re willing to step up and be intentional in how we raise our sons.

Copyright (c) 2014 FamilyLife.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just read a post by Dennis Rainey, “A father, a son, and a lifelong lesson” on the Stepping Up blog.

STEPThink - 10-point checklistWilliam Bennett, author of The Book of Man, talks about his shaping influences as a boy on FamilyLife Today.

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistBuilding character starts with “Modeling Integrity to Your Child.” Read the article on FamilyLife.com.

STEPPass - 10-point checklistThis story is featured in Stepping Up™  video series. Consider leading a father-son group through Stepping Up.

A real call of duty to fight real modern warfare



REAL Men fight the REAL Call of Duty

The REAL Call of Duty

Sometimes the simplest gesture can make a big statement.  I remember the weekend when I first brought my Merry (who eventually became my wife) to meet my family in Oregon.  My parents took us to a college basketball game, and it was raining hard when we arrived at the arena.

We had only one umbrella, so Dad dropped us off so we wouldn’t get wet. That really impressed Merry — she thought if my father had that type of servant attitude, some of it must have rubbed off on me.

And though I confess that I haven’t always followed my father’s example, I did learn much from him about being a husband, a father, and a man.  I’m fortunate to have a father who modeled how to take responsibility — he provided well for his family, he loved my mother, he was involved in his church and community, and he worked hard at helping raise my sister and me.  He was consistent, stable, and wise — and he was there for us.

In fact, he still is.

The REAL Modern Warfare

I thought of my father as I was reading about men who won’t grow up.   A number of media reports over time have focused on what some call the “Peter Pan Syndrome” — the growing phenomenon of young men who drift from job to job, live with parents or with a crew of buddies, and focus much of their energy on drinking, carousing, watching sports, playing video games (like Call of Duty® and Modern Warfare®), and chasing women.

It’s as if these young men have developed a warped idea of manhood.  They think becoming a man means getting to do whatever they want.  So for them, starting a family means giving up their cherished independence.  With that type of mindset, you wonder what type of husbands and fathers they will be when they finally set aside their childish ways.

But my father showed me that being a man means taking responsibility — for your choices, for your family, for your community, and for the next generation — this is our REAL call of duty as men — taking responsibility when we would rather be passive.  And a key step to becoming that man is to eventually find a wife and raise a family.  This is hard to do if we are still at home, playing video games and not working.

Our sinful, human nature craves independence; we want to go our own way, and avoid the responsibilities of commitment to God and to other people.  As Isaiah 53:6 tells us, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.”  In other words, we are prone to be men who won’t grow up.

Yet we live in a culture that celebrates youth and beauty and independence — even at the expense of growing up.  Many young men today immerse themselves in a world of media entertainment and diversions that tell them it’s okay to live a self-centered lifestyle, free of commitments to anything beyond endless and mindless pleasure.

I could also make a good argument that this culture can influence men in their later years.  How many men revert to adolescent behavior in middle age and leave their wives and families to pursue the excitement and adventure they feel they’re missing?

What Men Need to Grow Up and STEP UP

In a culture like this, where can men — young and old — learn how to become real men?  The simple answer is:  From other men.  Whether we are young or old, we need other men in our lives who will teach us, model for us, and encourage us to make the right choices.

Husbands and fathers need to step up and take responsibility for raising the next generation.

Boys growing up without fathers need men who will step into their lives and mentor them.

And men who refuse to grow up need peers and mentors who will exhort them to act like men.

As Dennis Rainey, president of FamilyLife, writes, “While none of us ever outgrow the need for having other men to mentor us, to watch behind us, to hold us accountable, it is an absolute essential for those who would admit that their teenage tendencies are still pretty strong inside. If you find yourself grown but still exhibiting immature, adolescent behavior on a fairly regular basis, you need people around you who can call you up and out.”

And that’s how men grow up … they step up with each other’s help.

Copyright (c) 2014 FamilyLife.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just read a post by Dave Boehi, “Giving men a real call of duty to fight real modern warfare.”

STEPThink - 10-point checklistAre there men in your life who taught you the meaning of true manhood? Share a comment about their impact.

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistRead “A father, a son, and a lifelong lesson” on the Stepping Up blog about how one boy learned to be a man.

STEPPass - 10-point checklistTake part in a Stepping Up™  10-week study for men, to surround yourself with other men to keep you stepping up.

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