One reason why I write this article is to equip people for a better life. How? By improving their serve in the tennis game of life. Did you know tennis is in scripture? The Bible notes, ‘Moses served in Pharaoh’s court.’ Let’s revisit a story I used years ago in this column (2005) but with a fresh thought.
The story is told of a king in Africa who had a close friend with whom he grew up. The friend had a habit of looking at every situation that ever occurred in his life (positive or negative) remarking, "This is good!"
One day the king and his friend were on a hunting expedition. The friend would load and prepare the guns for the king. The friend had apparently done something wrong in preparing one of the guns for after taking the gun from his friend, the king fired it and his thumb was blown off. Examining the situation, the friend remarked as usual, "This is good!" To which the king replied, "No, this is not good!" and proceeded to send his friend to jail.
About a year later, the king was hunting in an area he should have known to stay clear of. Cannibals captured him and took him to their village. They tied his hands, stacked some wood, set up a stake, and bound him to the stake.
As they came near to set the fire to the wood, they noticed that the king was missing a thumb. Being superstitious, they never ate anyone who was less than whole. So, untying the king, they sent him on his way. As he returned home, he was reminded of the event that had taken his thumb and felt remorse for the treatment of his friend.
He went immediately to the jail to speak with his friend. "You were right," he said, "it was good that my thumb was blown off." He proceeded to tell the friend all that had just happened. "And so, I am sorry for sending you to jail for so long. It was wrong of me to do this." "No," his friend replied, "This is good!" "What do you mean, 'this is good?' How could it be good that I sent my friend to jail for a year?" To which his friend replied, "If I had not been in jail, I would have been with you."
What would you have done if you were the king? If you are like me, you would have reacted much like the king. “This guy just blew my finger off. He has ruined my life. He must pay for this. Off to jail with him. End of story. No good could come from this.” But, as we see, it was not the end of the story. It was just the beginning of the story, improving his serve in the tennis game of life.
Just like that king, when something crazy, horrible, or unexpected happens to us, we have a knee jerk (or a thumb jerk) reaction. Not considering what happened to us could eventually work out for good or some higher purpose, we react rather than act, often to our own detriment. Sometimes life is like a tennis game. You start off losing the first three sets, but that doesn’t mean the game is over.
Remarkably, the king discovered the reality of that old commercial, “But wait, there’s more!” In a near-death experience, much more dangerous than the thumb incident, this life experience revealed to him a bigger picture, the story beyond the story and the reason beyond the reason.
The king did something most people these days don’t. He considered his treatment of his friend. He looked at this life experience in a different way because of the power of consideration. He considered his ways. He found good in what he thought was bad. He became a good finder rather than being a fault finder. He moved from a victim to a champion. And, he did something about it. After consideration, he went back to the friend and asked for forgiveness and received it.
His friend could have done the same thing the king did. He could have gotten into self-pity, self-deprecation, ‘he ruined my life, or I ruined my life,’ and the like. His last statement is amazing. “This is good! If I would have not been in jail, I would have been with you!” Consideration works best when both sides do it.
Notice the outcome of consideration. Without consideration, you would have a lose-lose scenario. Both the king and the friend would have lost their serve and the game. But with consideration, both the king and the friend were restored. What did that friend say about win-wins? “This is good.” It also improves your serve.
The ability and power to consider is a powerful ally for us. It calms us. It empowers us. It improves our lives.
What is consideration? Consideration is careful thought, over a period of time; a fact or a motive taken into account in deciding or judging something; thoughtfulness and sensitivity toward others. Some other words associated with consideration are reflection, study, deliberation, forethought, attention, reflection, kindliness, thoughtfulness, attentiveness, concern, courtesy, kindness, and tolerance. (Oxford Dictionary).
Current culture shapers want us to instantly and emotionally react to everything we see, hear or feel, just like that king. Don’t fall for it. You will lose much more than you will gain. Reconsider consideration. It’s a game-changer for you and your kin. Your serve!