After evening up the Western Conference semifinals with the San Antonio Spurs Sunday, May 12, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors was asked where he finds the strength to battle all the adversity he and the team have faced. He gave God the glory.
Unfortunately, expressions of faith in sports are so common and so often hollow that they are often met with cynicism. With a lot of athletes, we wonder why they think God was on their side for that play in the sport that pays them millions of dollars. Why does He love them more than the guy on the other side that wants the same thing? And why is the Lord for those that display such narcissism, greed or womanizing?
It is a terrible witness to proclaim faith in God and be about the world. He does not reward proclamations of faith, but walking in it. Seeking carnal pleasures outside of one's committed relationship, hoarding or flaunting wealth and even trash-talking are unbecoming of the faith. Non-believers watch Christians to see what significance our faith has, so our actions must reflect our beliefs.
Fortunately, Curry does not fall into those categories. He has shown perseverance and leadership on the court as the best player on the soaring Warriors despite a badly-injured ankle and getting banged around by the Denver Nuggets in the first round.
His team lost its All-Star big man and still won on the road against a higher-seeded team with the largest home-court advantage in the NBA. They continue to battle a deeper team that has been down this road so many more times than the Warriors, with almost everyone on the roster having three championships and the best chance to earn a fourth in the Western Conference.
Character on the court is not unique to or required of Christians, but it reflects well that Curry is a leader on a team that overcomes while being a church-going man. It is more important that he carries himself with character during and after the game, representing the values he claims to be central to his life. He comes across as humble, team-oriented and respectful.
It is also important to note that Curry was not giving God the glory for his success on the court but for his inner strength to endure and overcome. Even for those with sincere faith, God is not interested in the outcome of the game but what lessons can be learned through it.
The problem for a lot of athletes is that it is pretty hard to be about His glory and their own at the same time. In many cases their talent has meant that they do not have to grow up, and their perspectives are shaped by their emotions.
Sometimes God gets the credit for the success, but He is with us in failure, too. Many athletes struggle to praise the Lord when they lose. A couple years ago Stevie Johnson of the Buffalo Bills lashed out at God on Twitter after dropping a potential game-winning touchdown.
Curry shows none of that kind of faith that is rooted in circumstance. Expect to see a better example from him when the Lord does not give Golden State the miracle of winning at least two games in San Antonio.