So many times I find random parallels across the various jobs I have had in my career. Two great entrepreneurs, who have also been my bosses, have this way with carrying principles and situational learnings from one industry to the next. One, whom I work for now, is the son of a famous liquor distribution company. Every week he finds a way to solve today’s problem (in an online advertising business) from the experience of his parent’s problems in getting a bar or liquor store to carry their family’s brand of liquor. (Sounds like a stretch – but he makes it work somehow)
While I make fun of him at times, I take note that being able to relate patterns and familiar situations, cross industry, is quite a gift, and possibly an advantage on success. While we are far less important than pastors or teachers, I believe there are definite similarities in how we are judged.
Referees are held to a very high standard; in fact coaches and fans expect us to be perfect. While coaches recognize players will miss shots, the star will have turnovers, and they may make substitution errors, the expectation is that the officials should NEVER err. They are held to a higher, arguably, unreasonable standard.
The Bible says in James 3:1, “My brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers, because we know that we teachers will be judged more strictly.”
For 7 years I worked at a church as a youth director leading young people to follow Christ. I attempted to interpret God’s word to them, provide them guidelines for their life according to the “rules”, and to make them aware of the consequences for breaking the commandments or doing things they knew to be wrong. During that time I was aware that I was to be judged more strictly because of the role I was playing in the lives of young people.
I accepted the role of teacher and spiritual guide, and all the judgment and scrutiny that came with it. Today I accept the expectation of perfection as an official. I recognize that I am, once again, enforcing the rules, administering penalty for mistakes and fouls, and being held to stricter standards. I have a duty to the game, to the young people, the coaches and fans to strive for perfection. And you know, the bigger the game, the greater the paycheck, and the higher the accountability. We are being watched and our actions are being strictly judged. We are responsible for our actions.
As those much more insightful than me have said:
“With great power comes great responsibility” – Voltaire
“Every right implies a responsibility; Every opportunity, an obligation, Every possession, a duty” – John D. Rockefeller
Unfortunately, we recently learned that people in our officiating community allegedly misused their power. They fell short of perfect. If the stories are true, they failed to recognize the responsibility that came with their power. I do not point at them with blame, but with the reminder that we are always being watched, and we are always being asked to uphold the highest standards of integrity.
A man once voted “Sportsman of the Century” by the International Olympic Committee and named “Olympian of the Century” by Sports Illustrated magazine was probably tempted many times to cheat, and for a few years was even accused of doing so. He was exonerated and proven clean, but many of his peers in the 90’s have had their medals and accomplishments revoked because of their cheating. He passed the integrity test.
Carl Lewis, “Sportsman of the Century” said, “People have a moral standard about what they will do and will not do. At the end of the day someone who cheats has a lower moral standard than someone who does not. And they will cheat in other areas of life as well.”
The integrity of the sport of basketball is closely tied to the integrity of the people who officiate the game, administer the rules, and enforce fair play. Because of this we must act with integrity. We must not cheat. We must accept the responsibility that comes with this great power.
I wish for you a season of greatness! And with that greatness I pray that you understand the responsibility you must uphold. For the sake of the game – hold yourself to a higher standard. You will be judged more strictly.