Finding God's Winning Spirit

Get Real

January 17, 2014 | Greg Smith | Christianity

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How many times have you heard someone say, “Get real?” I wonder how most people take that? The simple meaning here is that someone is asking us to be authentic – to be open and transparent as to who we really are. Sounds simple doesn’t it – I wonder why it is not? Being real or authentic is one of the building blocks to a good self-esteem. As a counselor I can tell you that low self-esteem is one of the major causes of depression and failed relationships. How can we “get real”? As usual, our model is Christ.

One thing you can say about Jesus is that he was real. He did not wax and wane with the pressures of popular opinion or the constant stalking of the religious establishment. Jesus did not try to be something or someone else; he was comfortable with who he was and what God had in store for him; he “stayed the course”. If one looks at Webster’s definition of authentic there are a couple of usages that are important to note. One definition is, to be true to one's own personality, spirit or character. This is the key to a healthy self-esteem. If each of us could accept ourselves as we are and act out of this authentic state, we would be better off. Another usage in the definition of authentic is, conforming to an original so as to reproduce essential features. To me this is what made Jesus so strong and focused. Through his understanding of “being made in His image” Jesus was able to reproduce the characteristics of God. Being authentic for Jesus was simply drawing on the characteristics of his heavenly Father.

Athletes at the highest level get into trouble when they forget who they are or try to be someone they are not. Those things that come with notoriety or fame can distract professional or high profile athletes.  Christian athletes have an advantage here if they, like Christ, model the characteristics of the Father. This not only allows the Christian athlete to avoid many distractions and temptations, it allows them to be a positive and consistent role model to those around them.

Being authentic is simply accepting our strengths and weaknesses - owning our limitations.  There is a difference between apologizing for what we have done and apologizing for who we are. The athlete who pats his or her chest to let teammates know that they are taking responsibility for a mistake is making a statement about accountability not personal value. Interestingly enough, teammates tend to have more respect for players who are willing to take blame as well as the credit.

Authenticity is the cornerstone of affirmation. Human beings are relational animals, which means, interpersonal relationships are vital. It is through these relationships that we become connected to others and acquire our sense of personal value. This personal value (self–worth) will not take place if we are dishonest about who we are. Simply put, if we pose or pretend to be someone else then the positive feedback we get from others is not genuine – it is not ours. Being authentic is just another way of saying, “be honest,” which bears the fruit of affirmation. Our inability to be open not only prevents us from being really known, it hinders our ability to experience grace and unconditional love.

The lack of affirmation (low self-esteem) should not be a problem for Christians. We are made in God’s image and God loves us so much that “he gave his only begotten son.” I ask clients all the time what difference it makes that they know Christ? Here is one of the answers, “It allows us to know that we are valuable and unconditionally loved by God.” That is ultimate affirmation. 

 

(Excerpt from Sports Theology –Finding God’s Winning Spirit)

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