Nice Guys Finish Last — But Not Always
Bible Reading: Luke 14:7-11
The proud will be humbled, but the humble will be honored. Luke 14:11
It’s your turn to make the play of the game. You’re ready. You’re set. You’re going to do your best—and then you glance at your basketball coach. He flashes you a look that says “Play dirty!” You realize that he wants you to trip your opponent.
Maybe you have a coach like Leo “the Lip” Durocher. He played shortstop for several major league baseball teams in the 1930s and 1940s, then became a manager. But he is most famous for saying, “Nice guys finish last.”
Durocher expected his players to win at any cost-including kicking, clawing, biting, and bumping. But compare Leo Durocher with another major league ballplayer: Orel Hershiser. He was the pitching ace of the 1988 World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. He won twenty-three games that year and pitched a record-setting fifty-nine innings with no scores against him. He was voted Most Valuable Player in the World Series-and the National League’s best pitcher that year.
Orel Hershiser is a nice guy. And he’s a Christian. After setting that scoreless-innings record, he knelt on the mound to thank God. In the locker room after the final World Series game, he told reporters that he had sung hymns to himself during the game to stay calm. On national television that night, he said, “This isn’t a religious show, but I want to thank God.”
If nice guys are losers, how did Orel Hershiser get to the top of the heap? Listen to the truth:
• Leo Durocher says nice guys finish last. But the Bible says: “God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them” (Matthew 5:5).
• Leo Durocher says we should fight our way to the top. But God’s Word says, “When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honor” (James 4:10).
• Leo Durocher says we have to step on other people to win. But the Bible says, “God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6).
The truth is that some seasons Durocher’s team finished dead last. It’s true that sometimes nice guys also finish last. But in God’s eyes a humble and kind person will always finish first.
TALK: How do you feel when you win in the best possible way—through hard work and humility?
PRAY: God, you know that we like to win. We want to win, though, by doing things your way.
ACT: Think of one way you can show good sportsmanship in your favorite sport or recess game—and do it!