We all know many pro athletes are ego-maniacs. They’re always running around telling us how great they are, the best of all time. Even the Olympic athletes have joined in, with some of the track intros looking more like pro-wrestling with all the posturing going on.
Kobe Bryant, Olympic basketball player and Los Angels Laker star, finally went ahead and stated what so many of these athletes believe. Since they are the best, there’s nothing left to learn. According to one report, “ Bryant says he is in a place in his career that everyone else on the team wants to get to. He also says there is no player on the Team USA roster that can teach him anything.”
He has nothing to learn from any of these guys? Really? Nothing? Granted they may be younger, less experienced, etc. But nothing to learn from them? Pride and arrogance at its clearest and best (or worse).
Sadly, many in the church have this very same attitude. We may shake our heads and “tsk” at the arrogance of Kobe Bryant, but then we turn around and act in the very same way. We think that because we’ve been in the church for “x” number of years, memorized all these Bible verses, heard all these sermons, taught all these classes, or whatever, that we have nothing to learn.
I can’t count how many times people have looked out on a Sunday morning as I’m trying to preach and teach God’s Word, and there sits someone with that smug look on their face: “Can’t teach me anything.” I’ve actually had someone tell me that they don’t have to study their Bible a great deal anymore since they’ve already studied it so much. Really??
I’ve been preaching for over 23 years, but I still know that I’ve got a lot to learn. In fact, even if God allows me to continue preaching for the next 23 years, I know I still will have things to learn about God, about His goodness, greatness, grace and glory.
In Ephesians 1, Paul says that he is praying for the believers, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might .” (Eph 1:17-19, ESV)
He prays that they would continue to have their eyes opened, that they would continue to know Him more, to know our hope more, to know His riches more, to know his power more. (Now you know part of Sunday’s sermon outline!) There’s no room for complacency, for pride and arrogance. We need to know Him more, and in that regard we have much to learn, and we can learn it from almost anyone.
In fact, I regularly learn from my children. To use some folks’ mentality, the fact that I’m older, more experienced, been a Christian longer, etc. says that I can’t learn anything from them. But I do. Often. God uses their faith to challenge me, their insights to enlighten me, their prayers to often shame me. Not that they are perfect. I’m just trying to make the point. We can and should be learning from all those God puts in our lives.
I’m not saying that an 8 year old necessarily has more head knowledge than me, or that I have any more head knowledge, book smarts or Bible smarts than many who are older and wiser than me. But we can still learn from one another. God can use the character of others to challenge us, the faith of others to convict us, the obedience of others to correct us, and on and on. If we stop learning, we stop growing; if we stop growing, we dry up and die.
Kobe might think he’s the greatest ever, and he may be. But only a fool says he has nothing to learn. It’s true on the court and in the church. As the old hymn says, our desire should be:
More about Jesus would I know,
More of His grace to others show;
More of His saving fullness see,
More of His love Who died for me.