THE “I” IN PRIDE
Read 1 John 2:15-17.
“Everything in the world -- the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches -- comes not from the Father but from the world” (v. 16 NRSV).
All Jim Tressel promised was that OSU fans would be proud of their football team. What they heard, however, was a guarantee of a win over Michigan.
On the evening of Jan. 19, 2001, the day that he was hired as Ohio State’s head football coach, Tressel attended the Buckeye basketball game. At halftime, he took a microphone to introduce himself to the crowd. That’s when he proclaimed, “I can assure you that you’ll be proud of our young people in the classroom, in the community, and, most especially, in 310 days in Ann Arbor, Michigan.”
Wide receiver Drew Carter and quarterback Steve Bellisari were among those in the crowd that night who heard a promise. “We looked at each other and were like, ‘Wow, this guy really means business,’” Carter said. Then he realized, “I guess now we have to back that statement up.”
In understanding Tressel to guarantee a win over Michigan, perhaps Buckeye fans were grabbing at anything they could to feel optimistic. After all, Ohio State had beaten the despised Wolverines only twice in the last thirteen meetings.
From the day Tressel was hired, he focused on the Michigan game. He could recite without hesitation how many days remained until kickoff. Every Saturday during spring practice, he had his team watch a quarter of the loss in 2000.
The Buckeyes made good on their coach’s promise whether it involved pride or a victory, knocking Michigan out of the Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl berth with a 26-20 win. “I am so proud of these kids,” Tressell said after the game. So were the fans.
What are you most proud of? The size of your bank account? The trophies from your tennis league? The title under your name at the office? Your family?
Pride is one of life’s great paradoxes. You certainly want a surgeon who takes pride in her work or a Buckeye coach who is proud of his team’s accomplishments. But pride in the things and the people of this world is inevitably disappointing because it leads to dependence upon things that will pass away and idolization of people who will fail you. Self-pride is even more dangerous because it inevitably leads to self-glorification.
Pride in the world’s baubles and its people lures you to the earthly and the temporary, and away from God and the eternal. Pride in yourself yields the same results in that you exalt yourself and not God.
God alone is glorious enough to be worshipped. Jesus Christ alone is Lord.
I didn’t promise this win. I promised you would be proud of us. -- Jim Tressel after the 2001 Michigan game
Pride can be dangerous because it tempts you to lower your sight from God and the eternal to the world and the temporary.