Finally, a humble athlete!

I was delighted today by a newspaper article on David Ferrer, the world no. 3 ranked tennis player often overlooked by spectators and press.  He is quoted as saying.

Tennis has given me much more than I thought it would…but my family, my friends and the people around me – in the real life, we have to be good people. This is the aim of my life.

To win one major title would maean very much to me…but it would not mean everything to me in this life to win at playing a sport.

Ferrer seems to have a genuine humility about him. He recognises that being great at sport does not make you great at being a person, and which of these matters most.

Humility is a misunderstood virtue. We often associate it with quietness, but in my experience a quiet person can be as proud as a loud one. I recall a church leader renowned for his humility on the basis of his quietness once angrily protesting to me that he was being treated like a servant when I suggested the communion servers sit in the front row rather than come up onto the stage…not so humble.

Humility as i understand it is to think honestly about yourself in relation to others, to own your strengths and weaknesses, to see that others also have strengths and weaknesses, that they are often strong where you are weak, to celebrate their strengths while exercising yours, and to learn from them whiile contributing back what you can. Moreover, it is to be free of the need to feel validated as a human being on the basis of achievements.

This is what struck me as I read David Ferrer’s story, and what I strive, with varying degrees of success, to make part of my own.

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