Last night I officiated a college soccer match and was quickly reminded as to how much I view myself through the eyes of others (fear of man). I count myself a decent referee (with a player’s mindset) and by God’s provision, have had great opportunities to work good games even in my young career. But last night, I was rusty. I had weak and wobbly knees (in addition to cramping calves) not because I was unsure of the rules of the game or my training to control the match. I had weak and wobbly knees because I felt the assault of myself (and by myself) that was promted and governed by the assaults and whining of the coaches. 90 minutes of berating is hard for anyone to endure, BUT as much as I want to complain, what I find is that it simply uncovers my deepest weakness. I want others to see me as strong and competent and in control. I want others to see me as GOOD. I want respect… to the point that my identity (in that 90 minutes and following) has little to do with a status in Christ and more to do with my believing and swallowing the compliments/rebukes of others.
In a soccer match, it is prophetically true that one coach and team and set of fans are always assaulting the referee. Thus, there is always an opinion for me to fear and over which to distress. And here’s the thing: I think part of me loves being assaulted/criticized! Yep. There is a part of me that loves it because THEN I get to self-obsess in self-defense about my competency and integrity and skill (through my own eyes, of course). Ironic huh: I subconsciously love being in a position where I am attacked, because I consciously love building myself up in self-defense. I think they call that PRIDE revealed through the FEAR OF MAN.
So this was my issue last night: I thought I had weak and wobbly knees because I was berated for 90 minutes, but in reality I had weak and wobbly knees because I was incessantly prideful in self-defense. Isn’t there some verse (Rom. 8:1) which deals with pride and the fear of man?! There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. No condemnation from man, and no pride in self – only in Christ! Nice… refereeing as a gospel exercise.