Last weekend the most embarrassing thing happened to our local make-it-big hometown football hero. He’s been making the sports highlight reels this week—all for the wrong reasons. The fourth-overall NFL pick made a big-time rookie mistake. Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins was stopped short of a touchdown on an 84-yard catch in the second quarter of a game with the New York Jets. Watkins, a top shelf athlete who grew up and played in Southwest Florida where I live, thought he had a free pass to a touchdown. So he raised his arm in celebration as he neared the end zone, only to be surprised by a tackle at the 5-yard line. Whoops! Embarrassment extraordinaire! (Here’s the video link).
Celebrating before reaching the goal line can cost you. Sammy Watkins’ pursuer, Saalim Haikim, was running hard the entire way, and he was the hero for his team. Watkins started coasting at the end of his phenomenal run and he will be the example coaches will use to teach their players what NOT to do for many years in the future.
My friend, Dr. Henry Oursler of TightRope Communications, did a study of leaders in the Bible. He found the Bible mentions 2,390 people by name. Approximately 1,000 of the named people were men and women we would refer to as leaders. But we only have significant information to get a full picture on 100 of those leaders. Of those 100, only one-third of them finished their lives well. Most of those that didn’t finish well, failed in the last half of their life. How sobering is that?
I personally know of too many of my own peers who have made a Sammy Watkins style blunder—start coasting, pride-fully celebrating their successes, unaware of the danger nearby and they get tripped up at the five-yard line. They too get embarrassed, head down in shame as their failures are paraded before the world to see. We’ve all seen them in the headlines. And the cost is much more than one touchdown in one game of their career. Often, the entire positive legacy of a seasoned second-halfer is erased by a near-the-goal-line catastrophe.
So how do we avoid these kind of costly mistakes? My next blog post will lay it out in more detail. But the key elements are humility, pay attention to your surroundings, run strong to the finish line, know your mission, remain accountable and press on toward the goal of the high calling of God himself (see Philippians 3:12-14).
QUESTION: What additional things should I include in my next blog as a way to avoid being taken-down just short of the goal line? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below. Thanks!