Stop Trying to Be #1
Kevin Durant, the small forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder NBA franchise, won the coveted Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in the spring of 2014. Many were impressed by his poise and play on the basketball court, but it’s what Kevin Durant said during his acceptance speech that had everyone buzzing.
Kevin spent the majority of his time uplifting everyone else around him during his speech and ended it by saying, “My mom is the true MVP.” The tears flowed and the audience applauded and I gained a greater respect for Kevin Durant.
Going into the 2014 season, Kevin was getting antsy. He was beginning to feel the pressure from the sports world to win something. Until that point, Kevin fell short in every area of basketball. His legacy was being second, especially to LeBron James, the famed basketball player that beat out Kevin for the MVP several times going into 2014. HBO even did a documentary about Kevin Durant’s attitude, “I’m tired of being second.”
In a recent interview, Kevin recalls an exchange with former NBA player and now NBA coach, Maurice “Mo” Cheeks. Kevin was complaining to Mo about always being second at which Mo responded to Kevin, “Get over it! You’re always going to be #2.”
Kevin stared at Mo for a moment and then Mo continued, “Because, Jesus is #1.”
Kevin took a deep breath and went on to have one of his best NBA seasons and was ultimately awarded his first MVP of the NBA, ahead of LeBron James, finally.
Kevin won, when he stopped trying to win and started to serve. He put Jesus first and everything else second. He became more vocal about his faith. Images of Kevin serving his community began to appear more frequently. He quietly donated $1 Million of his own funds to tornado victims in Oklahoma and when word got out, his NBA team, The OKC Thunder, and sponsor, Nike, matched his funds.
Kevin’s love for the game and for everyone around him was restored when he gained perspective. He loosened his grip on trying to be the best and humbly served God and those around him.
It seems counter-intuitive doesn’t it? Stop trying so hard and stop focusing on winning in order to win, but that’s how life works. That’s how God works. Kevin finally won, when he stopped trying so hard. He relaxed going into the 2014 NBA season and embraced second place, behind his Creator, and ultimately won NBA’s top award.
Are you trying too hard? What is #1 in your life? Is it you? If so, then you’re fighting an uphill battle. I’ve fought this battle myself, way too long. I used to smile at my kids after accomplishing something with them and I would say, “Do you know why we accomplished that?”
My kids would respond, “Why?”
I would smile back, “Because I’m Daddy.”
I thought I was being funny and instilling confidence in my kids, but in fact I was modeling bad behavior. I was teaching them that we were winning because of me, when in fact God was the one blessing us. I was trying too hard to be #1. I stopped doing that. Recently, I might add.
Now I say, “Because of our Daddy!” and I point up to the sky, a constant reminder to my kids that God is good and should always be #1 in our lives.
Stop trying to be #1 and take a deep breath and get on your knees and allow God to take the reins of your life and then you will finally taste victory and truly feel what it’s like to be an MVP.