Franz Beckenbauer is one of the most decorated “footballers” (soccer players) in the history of the game. The sixty-year-old retired German star now serves the sport in an executive capacity and writes a regular column for a European tabloid. And although I’m not a fan of soccer, I recently came across a wire story that speaks beyond the mechanics of the sport itself.
Mr. Beckenbauer was asked the other day about a player named Arjen Robben, a highly touted Dutch winger. His response to the question is what got me. He replied:
He has played away some of his recognition. He is selfish like so many others. Here is his reaction alone to when he has a good effort or scores a goal: he does not run towards the player who set him up to score but instead he runs towards his family in the stands. He lets the team run after him. At some point the teammate will say “if you are not going to recognize my pass then next time you can come and get the ball yourself.”
Doesn’t that remind you of so many situations amidst day-to-day living? While it’s commendable to acknowledge one’s family, Mr. Beckenbauer is suggesting that Roben’s actions amount to grandstanding.
It’s all too easy to accept credit for a job that was actually accomplished by the work of many hands, or in this case, many feet. When the applause comes and the spotlight finds us, to whom do we give the credit? Our sinful nature makes us prone to begin believing that we’re pretty important and thus, solely deserving of bouquets of praise.
The fact, of course, is that we need help every second of the day. Think about it. Even when we’re sleeping, we need help from the Lord in order to breathe!
Speaking to the importance of other people in our lives, it was the 12th century theologian and author John of Salisbury who astutely observed the following. “We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants,” he wrote. “We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours.”
In The Message, Eugene Peterson aptly contemporized the words of Psalm 30 (1-3,11,12). Whether the context is a grassy field or around a family table, we would be wise to meditate on these words of wisdom.
I give you all the credit, God – you got me out of that mess, you didn’t let my foes gloat. God, my God, I yelled for help and you put me together. God, you pulled me out of the grave, gave me another chance at life when I was down-and-out … you changed wild lament into whirling dance; You ripped off my black mourning band and decked me with wildflowers. I’m about to burst with song; I can’t keep quiet about you. God, my God, I can’t thank you enough.
To whom do you run to give thanks and credit for the assists in your life?