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
Leo “the Lip” Durocher played shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, and St. Louis Cardinals in the 1930s and 1940s, then went on to become a successful major league manager. But Durocher is most famous for his flaming temper-and as the source of a saying he used to defend his behavior: “Nice guys finish last.” As a manager, Durocher growled and scratched his way to three National League pennants. He expected his players to kick and claw, bite and bump, hit and hurt if they wanted to win.
Compare Leo Durocher with another major league ballplayer: Orel Hershiser 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 consecutive scoreless innings. He earned the Most Valuable Player award in the League Championship Series and in the 1988 World Series. And to top off his great season, he won the Cy Young Award as the National League’s best pitcher.
Orel Hershiser is a nice guy. And a Christian. After setting the 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 and keep focused. On national television that night he said, “This isn’t a religious show, but I want to thank God.” His baseball accomplishments remain in the record books as proof of his talent and hard work.
If nice guys are losers, how did Ore! Hershiser get to the top of the heap? Leo Durocher says, “Nice guys finish last.” But grab a look at what God says: “God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them” (Matthew 5:5). Leo Durocher says, “Kick and claw your 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, “You have to step on other people to make it to the top,” but the Bible says, “God sets himself against the proud, but he shows favor to the humble” (James 4:6). Leo Durocher says, “Strut your stuff. If you’ve got it, flaunt it.” Jesus says, “The proud will be humbled, but the humble will be honored” (Luke 14:11).
Sometimes nice guys do finish last. So do some not-so-nice guys—like Durocher. He took first place three times in his career as a major league manager. Twenty-one times he didn’t. Some seasons his teams even finished dead last.
Don’t forget that sometimes nice guys work hard—and finish first.
REFLECT: What kind of satisfaction do you feel when you win in the best possible way—through hard work, perseverance, determination, and humility?
PRAY: God, I like to win. I want to win, though, by doing things your way.
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