“Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
Wrestling is growing steadily and gaining more attention as the world becomes connected by social media.
Highlight videos of incredible technique breakdowns get shared, clips of amazing comeback-matches and gusty moments get retweeted, and the mainstream has noticed the mat world is buzzing.
As that spotlight grows, media outlets are hungry for more and more content. People want highlights and things to show on their Facebook and Twitter feeds. Because of social media, wrestling has more of a spotlight than it ever has.
This is only one factor among many others that drive people to be flasher, to taunt and build hype for matches or look to build their name. Because of the increase in attention, more than ever it seems the temptation to showboat and gloat is noticeable.
While the great showmanship might be good for the sport, good sportsmanship is great for the Kingdom.
Previously, we talked about Dignity in Defeat, where we broke down a few ways to learn from losses and fall forward. In this post we’ll look at the other side of the results and explore what winning with humility looks like. How does one wrestle and win in a way that gives glory to God and not to themselves?
Here are 5 ways to wrestle and Win with humility. Lets jump into it.
“Winning is important, but how you win is just as important”
- Point the Glory back to the source – “You can have all my shine”
Wrestling is an interesting sport, because while it has a strong individual emphasis, it also has a heavy group focus, and takes a team to reach higher levels of successful. It’s difficult, after all, to practice hand-fighting with a shadow.
Let’s think about this: you have coaches and teammates who put in countless hours, parents and friends who support and pour into you, fans who chant and cheer; booster clubs fundraising, groups that support and donate supplies, athletic trainers and countless others who help in some way.
The list gets even longer if you mentioned all of the previous wrestlers who came before you, the counselors at camp, and even the kitchen staff who made the food between sessions.
That’s a lot of credit to give!
No matter the platform, whether in interviews, casual conversations, or on your Insta story, you have an opportunity to direct the attention and the glory: Always give credit where credit is due.
The most important and deserving above all other sources, of course is the God who made you and gave you the breath to compete another day. Perform like He is in the audience watching, because, well, He is.
Key Point: Always remember that “He” is greater than “I”, and give credit where credit is due.
2. Remember who you represent – “Actions speak louder than words” Proverb
Just like we talked about last, when you’re competing you constantly have an opportunity to share your faith, and not always by what you say. Most people watch how you wrestle and how you act before, during, and after the match can be the difference between someone hearing the Gospel and being turned off to hearing anything you might have to offer.
Now nothing is wrong with being excited and celebrating a hard-fought win. Jumping into the coaches corner after a state or national final is one thing, but maybe trash-talking the guy you just beat over Instagram isn’t the best way to intro the Gospel.
Five-time World and Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs had this to say about humility “…anytime someone does something that humiliates an opponent, whether it’s blowing a kiss or holding a thumbs up or doing a throat slash, pushing a guy down, stuffing their head out of bounds, making a gesture at another coach, I don’t agree with it. It may be funny, it may be entertaining, but I don’t think there’s a place for it in this sport.”
Humility for the Christian Athlete considers how one’s actions help others see Jesus in them, not what would be most satisfying in the moment.
Key Point: Consider how what you do reflects who you represent. Represent well.
3. Let others sing your praise – “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2
When you have success the temptation and desire for recognition is as natural as sweat on a post-tournament mat. Most athletes are accustomed to the rattling on about their accomplishments by family and friends, and the more success they see the more they’re reminded by others of what they’ve achieved.
Let them talk.
If your teammates want to talk about what you’ve done, let them. If your family wants to post highlights of your best matches, let them do it. If the coaches or wrestling pages want to repost your unbelievable takedowns, let them.
You’ve got work to get done and a skillset to focus on sharpening. Win big, work quiet. When you don’t focus on promoting yourself you’ll be able to give others more and more to talk about.
Key Point: Let other people talk about your accomplishments; focus on getting better.
4. Sit down – Be Humble
Proverbs 11:2 says that ‘Pride comes before a fall’ but why pride?
First, let’s distinguish between confidence and self-respect and the arrogant, egotistic pride.
Psychologists note the difference between Authentic pride, and Hubristic pride. The former looks productive, emotionally stable, and confident, while the latter is aggressive, cocky, and self serving.
A little Authentic pride looks like holding your head up when you walk across the mat. It is the confidence you show when they announce your name, and even what makes you keep your gear clean.
Hubristic Pride is dangerous because it can lull you into a false belief that you and you alone get all the credit. It looks like taunting or insulting others and is prone to thing like arguing with coaches and officials, and fighting dirty when the pressure is on.
In addition to your wrestling development, pride can destroy your faith walk by filling your head and keeping your eyes on your power and away from The Cross.
‘Pride comes before a fall’ because when your eyes aren’t on the path you don’t see what’s ahead, and if your ego is in the way you will trip. Hard.
Winning with humility allows you to stay level in whatever discipline you’re practicing – especially for the wrestler, and allows you to continue to grow and progress.
Key Point: Have a little pride, but drop the ego.
5. Confidence – “By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools. And since what they are trying to believe may, in some cases, be manifest nonsense, they cannot succeed in believing it and we have the chance of keeping their minds endlessly revolving on themselves in an effort to achieve the the impossible.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
Fo the final point, I want to make sure to clear something up. If you’ve never heard this before, I’m going to let you in on a big secret about being humble:
You are allowed to accept compliments.
You are allowed to say “thank you”, and you are allowed to call yourself a good wrestler (or a good “whatever else”). For some strange reason this idea that humility means deflecting compliments, or worse, dimming the bright light our Creator gave us to shine is absolutely wrong, and potentially damaging.
Really, think about this: Could you imagine Samson saying “oh, I’m not THAT strong” or Solomon saying “I don’t really know THAT much”? Absolutely not! We know the truth, and they know the truth!
If you wrestled well, you can believe you did. If you are a good athlete you can say it, and you should believe you can be the best, but if you want the statement to really matter don’t just say it, show it.
Key Point: Take the complements and the wins, internalize the good, then get back to work.
Give credit where credit is due, internalize the belief and build confidence, let others sing your praise, and remember who you represent. Humility for the Christian athlete is posturing yourself under God, and giving Him the honor for the good things He does and has done through you. I hope you were able to get a little more insight into what winning with humility can look like.
Is there another point you think matters?
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- Kalann Washington