“That is Rat Poison” said the well known successful football coach. On hearing this, I went from B listening mode to A. Listening further, I gathered that the reporter had asked something nice about how the team felt about being highly ranked and likely to win the championship. Why would the coach respond to the good hearted question with “Rat Poison.” I have heard coaches that were on the edge of getting fired facing hostile reporters, when asked a tough question about the problem, respond with a harsh response. I had never heard such a harsh response to friendly questions.
Despite listening carefully, I still didn’t understand. I filed it away in case I heard something more. A week later, I was listening to a “sports psychologist” who was counseling the team. He was talking about two attitudes. One was the successful people who loved to win. The other was the successful people who feared to lose. He asked which group was more likely to win. I was surprised to hear the group that feared to lose. Now, the “Rat Poison” comment made sense. The people who had gained the fear to lose attitude and would continue to strive to get better might lose it. If they heard about how they were expected to win, They might focus on excitement to win, and get overconfident, thus stop striving. Expectation of winning was truly rat poison to the fear of losing attitude that kept one striving.
The psychologist had a great term, with great gifts comes great responsibility. You are responsible to keep striving to perfect your gift. How appropriate this is for Christians. Each Christian has been gifted with a variety of gifts. We are also told “earnestly desire the greater gifts,” so we know that we can gain gifts as we mature. Another way of putting it is, if we show great responsibility with the gifts we have, God will give us more. Keep in mind that God says, Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. (James 3:1) With great gifts comes great responsibility. Should we enjoy the praise of people, or is it rat poison?
Regina asks other preachers if they still feel nervous before they preach. They say yes, when they stop feeling nervous, they need to retire. I noticed that she only asks preachers that she respects. Others seem to enjoy all the praise and give lazy sermons, or ones that seem to grow lazier over time. Have you ever sat in a Sunday School room and realized that the teacher loved to be a teacher, but didn’t want to put in the effort, just taught the material in the book? Loving the honor is really Rat Poison.
“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. Matt 6:5. “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, Luke 20:46.
If, instead, we compare ourselves to Jesus, we can see that we have a long way to go. This is the true humble man, powerful but knows he is so imperfect that he may fail. I would rather fear to fail, continue to strive to get better and hear “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’” Matt 25:21, when all is done.