When I attended the University of Kentucky in the mid-1980s, the men’s basketball program had an interesting tradition. Every year they would schedule an open tryout for any students who wanted to try to earn a spot on the team’s roster. They did not usually award a spot on the team to any of those who tried out, but occasionally they did. This player would practice with the team, be given a uniform and would sit at the end of the bench—an actual Kentucky Wildcat! He would become a crowd favorite and would only get into the game in the last minute of a blowout. This player could say that he had been a player for one of the greatest college sports programs of all time. Who wouldn’t want that?
One year when the announcement came about the tryout, I decided to give it a shot. I had absolutely no expectations of making the team. I just wanted to be able to say that I had tried out. So I showed up, along with two or three dozen other young men. And they were younger than me, as I was a non-traditional student, about 26 years old. They were also in better physical condition than I was. And, yes, they could all play the game of basketball much better than I could.
The first part of the tryout wasn’t so bad. We just spent some time shooting the basketball. It was very informal. Even then, I could tell I was in over my head. Others were swishing shots from 20 feet. My shots from 15 feet were rimming out.
Then the coach in charge of the tryouts called us all together. It was one of the assistant coaches. Eddie Sutton, the head coach at the time, did not even bother to show up. The coach told us that we could resume our informal shooting, and after a few minutes we would begin to run some drills.
At this point I knew that things were about to get ugly. The drills would show beyond a shadow of a doubt that I did not belong on the same court with these other fellows. Any further participation in the tryout would result in my embarrassment, probably to the point of humiliation. I did not want that. So I did the only thing I could do. I subtly put on my warmup clothes and sneaked out the side door. So ended my “tryout” with the Kentucky Wildcat basketball team.
In many areas of life, we have to make honest assessments about our abilities, or our lack thereof. We must humbly accept our skill level and make our plans accordingly. It is certainly true in the kingdom of God. We are all blessed, but we are not given the same types of skills and abilities. We must humbly and joyfully accept the position that God has given us, and simply perform to the best of our ability in whatever area the Lord has called and enabled us to serve.
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”—Romans 12:3.