Because of television replays, much public attention has been given to calls blown by referees and umpires. As a parent of a professional baseball player, it is frustrating when such technology shows the pitch thrown to Adam to be several inches off the plate, yet the umpire calls it a strike. Every hitter knows that if he loses his composure and "shows the umpire up," he will be thrown out of the game.
For Adam, when an incorrect strike three is called, his reaction is predictable: He pauses, looks at home plate, makes a casual remark to the umpire and walks back to the dugout. He and I don't share the same temperament. If I were he, I would be kicked out of a lot of games. The public humiliation of having to head for the dugout would do me in, especially if I knew I had been treated unjustly. Sometimes just watching the television replay causes me to respond so dramatically that my husband questions what my problem is.
I'm sure glad I have no issues with pride like those umpires.
My son was home last week for a day off between games and we discussed professional baseball's take on the missed calls umpires are making. Adam's perspective was surprising. He said the umpires he and his baseball friends would retain -- if given license to do so -- would be the ones who mess up and admit it by apologizing the next time the athlete comes to bat, even if their poor calls are more frequent.
The ones with whom ballplayers are most frustrated are those who are too proud to admit they made a mistake, even if they made less of them.
If you ever have worked for a boss who is incapable of admitting foul-ups, you know how frustrating it can be. I happen to be privileged to work for administrators who readily acknowledge responsibility when things go wrong, yet as a teacher, I must admit it's not always easy.
Sometimes my initial response is to defend myself, but I have learned that when I confess to the class that I have handled something incorrectly or not taught something effectively, my students are more than willing to understand and show me grace. Not so different than the hitter with the umpire.
Recently, I did business with a company that billed me twice the amount we had agreed on. As it turned out, they had used many more supplies and manpower than they had estimated. When I questioned why I wasn't forewarned, the owner of the company initially defended his decision to charge me more. Later he agreed that what happened to me was not fair. He ended up charging me the original estimate. Of course, then I felt guilty and paid more than I had intended, but I will now recommend that company and use it again.
Proverbs 29:23 tells us this: "A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor." Jonah could be the poster child for that message. Chances are, you probably were introduced in Sunday school to this prophet's time-out spent in the belly of a whale, but what happened afterwards reinforces the message that this Old Testament character still was consumed with pride. After making the 500-mile trip to enemy territory to tell the Ninevites God was going to destroy them, he led that nation in a great revival. Because of their repentance, God saved them, yet instead of celebrating, Jonah, focused on what his countrymen would think (and possibly how his prophecy did not come true) turned his pride to anger, going so far as to ask God to take his life. Certainly a low point for this prophet.
It's easy to read stories like this and see how foolishly Jonah behaved, and as the mother of an athlete, the message is the same: A man's pride brings him low. For Jonah. For the umpire. And according to my husband, for me.