A few years ago, one of my childhood heroes, Michael Jordan stood on a stage in Springfield, Massachusetts. He was giving a speech after being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. I was expecting the usual words of acceptance, thanking parents and teachers and coaches. But instead, Michael shared a bitter rant against anyone who ever doubted his basketball ability. He was cruel and petty.
Jordan’s speech was so cringe-inducing I turned it off. But most commentators excused it because the greatest basketball player in the history of the world can, in their words, “say what he wants.” In other words, if you’re talented, it’s okay to be a jerk.
Contrast that with a press conference last week with the newest superstar on the Chicago Bulls, Derrick Rose. At 22 years old, he’s the youngest ever to win the MVP award. He’s got the entire world praising him for how humble, gifted, and poised he is as a team leader.
And yet when I watched him speak, he was still remarkably humble, even choking up to thank his mother who shaped him while growing up in the crime-ridden West side of Chicago. I pray Derrick Rose always stays so humble, so appreciative of his gifts.
Most of us will never reach the level of fame of Michael Jordan or Derrick Rose. But we each have a talent and if we’re not careful, we’ll adopt the worldly philosophy that says we’re entitled to treat people bad simply because we’re gifted. I like what bestelling author and popular blogger, Jon Acuff recently said about this on his blog: “Wild talent and a bad attitude eventually always loses to mild talent and a good attitude.”
Just because you’re gifted or have experienced some success, doesn’t give you the right to be a jerk. Especially if you’re a Christian. God call us to live humbly, confidently, and sacrificially. This is the heart of the Gospel, that Christ’s transformation within frees us from living for our selves.