I’ll never forget the day two of my buddies and I met at the public park to play doubles tennis and didn’t have a fourth. There was an elderly man sitting on one of the benches holding his racquet–obviously looking to join a game. But being the young tennis bucks that we were, we didn’t want to slow down our game for him, so we rudely ignored the fact that he was looking for some play.
After a set or so I began to feel guilty and asked him to join us. I asked if he wanted to serve and he said, “sure.” I offered him the chance to warm up, but he responded that he didn’t need to.
By this time I began thinking we had really made a mistake inviting someone who wasn’t even “professional” enough to warm up to join us at “our level.”
He served the first point out wide to my buddy, who couldn’t even touch the ball. He did the same thing on the second point to my other friend. He won the game without losing a point.
“Who are you?” I asked?
When he replied, “My name is Gardnar Mulloy,” it clicked that I had just played with a 4-time winner of the U.S. men’s doubles title, not to mention he had also won at Wimbledon!
The 80-year-old champion had a fun time teaching us boys a good lesson that day – in more ways than one. We almost missed out on the story of a lifetime, getting to play tennis with a true champion because of our youthful pride.
Selfishness often precludes us from experiencing the greatest lessons that God has in store for us. In order not to miss out on the blessings of these interactions, we need to proactively take steps toward selflessness.
Be mindful of others, and take care to employ depth of notice today. Don’t walk past any old men; they might be there to teach you about humility. Don’t scuttle past the moms-with-screaming-toddlers; they might be divine interruptions to help grow your patience. Don’t snub the “prodigal” family member; maybe you are supposed to bring the family back together by enacting the verse that instructs us to “seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:14)
Although contrary to our self-serving human nature, taking steps toward daily selflessness will set you on a path filled with experiences, treasures, memories and wisdom that will last your lifetime and beyond.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
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