“The crucible is for silver and the furnace for gold and each is tested by the praise accorded him.” – Proverbs 27:21
How do Christian athletes appropriately handle praise and criticism? The reality is that each has the ability to take us away from the will of God. Beginning with praise, Proverbs 27:21 highlights a very important point. Basically, if you want to know the heart of a person, praise them and see how they respond. If we aren’t careful, praise becomes our main goal in playing sports and an opportunity for the Enemy to take our eyes off God.
In the world of sports, there are these people called fans. For so many of us, our entire focus is on whether or not they praise us. Fans are friends, family members, neighbors, and people whose names we don’t even know. Far too often, athletes give fans too much power, allowing them to dictate who they are and how they play. The problem is that we tend to value the praise of fans over the delight and love God has for each of us. Which, unlike many fans, is consistent regardless of the results.
Praise from people should not be rejected, but redirected. We know that everything we have accomplished is a blessing from God and a result of the strength, opportunities, gifts, and abilities He has given us. So when the opportunity presents itself, we redirect the praise given to us to the only One worthy of praise. The other action upon receiving praise is to redirect it to others. When you receive praise there is an opportunity to bless and encourage your teammates, coaches, or those who have loved and supported you. Ultimately, as the sons and daughters of God, we are freed to redirect praise because our Father so deeply loves and delights in us.
- Prayerfully reflect: How do you handle praise?
- Spend time thanking God for His love and delight in you.
- Ask God to help you redirect praise to Him and others.