For those of you who are missing your sport fix on TV, Netflix just ran a documentary on the greatest basketball player ever – Michael Jordan. His feats on the court were unbelievable. He holds six NBA titles, six individual MVP (most valuable players), and a host of other records.
Michael Jordan also had a darker side, revealed in the documentary. He was a control freak, kept a grudge, and was addicted to gambling. By his own admission, if you watched the documentary, at times 'You're Going to Think I'm a Horrible Guy'.
Jordan is not the only person who was brilliant in one sphere of life and yet somehow dysfunctional in other parts. Modern sports managers have to manage the superegos of super athletes as much as they do team tactics. Beyond sport, Einstein was brilliant at maths and physics, but apparently poor at languages. There are question marks around Mozart's mental wellbeing.
As we reflect on the great ones in Scripture, Noah – called righteous and blameless – his first recorded action after getting off the ark is to get drunk. Samson can defeat an army, but is overcome by one woman and a haircut. David – the man after God's own heart – becomes an adulterer and a murderer.
As I reflect on our current models of parenting, we are busy inspiring and encouraging the next generation to thrive and become a world-beater in something. When they chase and achieve their dreams, they will be fulfilled and content.
Yet scripture, history and experience suggest otherwise. Our culture has lost its appreciation of (somewhat average at everything but) well-rounded maturity and is instead wooed by the exceptional. We idolise high achievers. But brilliance is often achieved at a price.
Rev David Rietveld
Download this week's newsletter here.