Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Let This Be A Lesson

The new face of anger.
Most of you are probably not basketball fans, and those of you who are probably did not watch this year's NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, the same two teams in the Finals for the fourth year in a row.  But there's an important lesson to be learned here.

In game 1 LeBron James showed us why he is the best player in the world, and why so many are obsessed with comparing him to Michael Jordan.  He was sensational, scoring 51 points, along with eight rebounds and eight assists.  But his team still lost in overtime. 

How did "The King" respond?  After the game LeBron punched a white board in the locker room out of anger, and he fractured his hand.  He played the next three games with an injured hand, and even though the audience and media did not know of the injury, it was obvious that this was a different LeBron.  For the rest of the series he was only a shell of the player that we saw in game 1, and his team was swept, losing the championship without even winning a single game.  Who knows?  If LeBron doesn't lose his temper, Cleveland could have bounced back to win the series, just as they did in 2016 when they were down 3-1.

While LeBron did not give us a victory, he did give us a lesson on the dangers of anger.  This is what happens to a man who does not control his temper.  He ends up hurting himself, his reputation, his legacy, and all of the people who depend on him.  The only way that LeBron could have done worse is by punching a person -- maybe a teammate, a coach, a fan, or one of his family members.  Then who knows what the collateral damage might have been.  The end of his career?  The loss of endorsements?  The loss of his family?  Jail time?  And this is what happens to too many men who do not control themselves.

Why did LeBron lose his temper?  We can only guess.  First, LeBron seemed to place winning above everything else, forgetting that true success is not winning, but how you play the game, and how you respond to victory or defeat.  If winning is everything, your life will be an emotional roller-coaster because winning is not something you can control.  All you can control is your effort and attitude. 

Second, LeBron was thinking like a victim rather than a leader.  He was totally self-absorbed.  "Woe is me!  The refs failed me.  My coach failed me.  My teammates failed me.  This hurts my legacy.  They stole the title from me.  This makes me look bad.  Now I'm going to lose.  I've been cheated."  Instead of thinking like a victim, LeBron should have been thinking like a leader, admitting that he didn't play a perfect game, and that he has made mistakes before, and by encouraging his teammates, especially J.R. Smith, to stay positive, to look forward, and to focus on how to improve and win the series.

Third, LeBron was not thinking Biblically.  Worldly wisdom teaches that it is appropriate to express your anger by yelling, screaming, barking, destroying or hitting things, as long as you do not hurt anyone.  I'm sure LeBron did not think he was going to hurt anyone when he punched the white board, but he did.  Big time!  The Biblical response to anger is not about holding it in, but instead letting it go through forgiveness, humility, prayer, and focusing on the future rather than on the past.

LeBron is a great basketball player, but he is a bad example of how to handle anger.  So kids, let this be a lesson.  Learn to control your temper, or it will cost you dearly.   

Proverbs 19:19 (CSB) says, "A person with intense anger bears the penalty; if you rescue him, you’ll have to do it again." 

James 1:19 (CSB) says, "My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger."

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