Championship Spirit/Handling Criticism
79“I do understand some things about my grandfather. His determination. His character. He was a religious man, with deeply held beliefs about things like…no alcohol, tobacco, or swearing. And he had a forgiving spirit towards his enemies and adversaries.” Grandson of Major Taylor, one of the First African-Americans to be a World Champion Athlete
Champions are acquainted with opposition and adversity. Championship ground is broken by opposing that adversity with forgiveness and determination. The message of grace under fire is as relevant today as ever. Whenever you do well, opposition seems to increase. Everyone loves a winner – maybe because they make a magnetic target to transfer fears and insecurities.
Opposition is a first step toward one another, a spiritual 80entropy. Winners force an adaptation by everyone else that creates tension in someone of different stuff. This doesn’t surprise a winner. Everyone else sees happy podium pictures but the champ hears the comments of jealous rivals and remembers overcoming criticism. There’s always more pressure on a favorite, and often that favorite doesn’t push a popular agenda or represent the majority.
No one in cycling represents any majority. We are a minority community. We will come under siege as individuals and as a group. We must learn not to turn from pedaling to pouting or shouting. When he didn’t meet popular criteria for what a champion should be, Jesus didn’t utter a word but instead endured beatings because of what was at stake. Opposition is a grace that forces champion character because it allows death to self and faith in a righteous vindication. Some criticism is valid and can make us better. Other vitriol has more to do with the criticizer’s tensions adapting to someone better on that day. While enemies adjust, wait courageously.
Prayer for Handling Criticism
“If you see your enemy hungry, go buy him lunch; if he’s thirsty, bring him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness, and God will look after you.” Proverbs 25:21-22
“If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought…Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick.” 811 Peter 3:13-18
We are glad to let harsh comments be turned over to God to decide methods of possible confrontation toward resolution and forgiveness.
Ponder Am I ignoring smack talk? Affirm I ask God and wise counsel to show me if this criticism is valid. Watch an enemy smoothed, perhaps even transformed, when you don’t lash back.
79Unveiling of Major Taylor Statue Worcester, MA on May, 2008: “A Major Monument,” by Alan Cote News feature, May 27, 2008 www.cyclingnews.com
Competing on Sunday was one of Major Taylor’s acts of faith, like Eric Liddell’s stance depicted in the movie, Chariots of Fire. In the context of culture, this made more sense than it does today. Faithful Christians today can race on Sunday but observe some day for Sabbath – a rest day and a day for worship preferably assembling with others to do so either in church or a small group. This is taken from a biblical principle where Christ was rebuked for healing on the Sabbath, and King David rebuked for eating bread out of the temple. Both were considered necessary acts in timing with circumstances. Bike races are on Sunday for lots of reasons – it makes sense to continue that and one can still be deeply devout.
80Entropy is a thermodynamic principle where contrasting energies are forced to turn toward one another in order to smooth differences – like ice melting in water, for instance.
81The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson