April 29; A Person Is Made Better In Close Contact With Harder People;
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful


Chapter Four: Relationships: 29 April

As iron sharpens iron,

so one person sharpens another.

Proverbs 27:17

A Person Is Made Better In Close Contact With Harder People


They called me “John Havlicek” after the Boston Celtics great. Not because I was any good shooting from the baseline, but because I was the only white guy on the team.

In high school I played basketball (poorly) but knew enough to hang around the upper classmen to ‘get some game.’ All I ever got was humiliated. But starter Jerome would constantly encourage and remind me that my skills, such as they were, could only be sharpened by playing with tougher players. The Big Guys out of my league. I should always ‘play up’ if the cool kids would permit.

My school was located near the inner city where the high school ball players didn’t have much. But they did have talent. I had just enough talent to be mocked. I didn’t care much for the hazing. But it worked.

Theologian and philosopher Michael Novak, writes of this counter-intuitive; this masculine rite of passage,

Male bonding is one of the most paradoxical forms of human tenderness: harsh, hazing, sweet, gentle, abrupt, soft. Blows are exchanged. Pretenses are painfully lanced.

The form of compliment is, often as not, an insult. There is daily, hourly probing as to whether one can take it as well as dish it out.

It is a sweet preparation for a world less rational, less liberal, than childhood dreams imagine…

Basketball was a high contact “sport” on that side of the tracks. My mother was concerned about my ‘coordination.’ That I “fell down the stairs” a lot for an athlete. My dad just looked at me with an imperceptible nod, knowing the crowd I had to compete in.

But I didn’t quit. Those better players made me a bit better, as any one who played sports can guess. Novak explains my luck,

A great rival is a great gift. How can one extend oneself into fresh heights if there is no one to force higher? An artist of any sort who has no peers suffers from the lack. Great peers make one greater than one could become in solitude.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another, Proverbs 27:17



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