How Do You Feel About the Failure of Others?

Last night my boys and I watched an incredible NFL playoff football game. It was the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings in a second-half shootout that came down to the final play. The last play will be on social media for years to come. A Saints player named Marcus Williams tried to make a stop on a long last-second pass play, and he missed. He ducked his head and completely missed the Minnesota player which gave the Vikings a touchdown on the final play to win the game.

Immediately after the play, the internet came alive with all sorts of thoughts for Mr. Williams. Everyone’s reaction to his failure to make the play came along a few predictable paths.

1. Some People Rejoice at Failure. Needless to say, Vikings fans were ecstatic at the missed tackle. For them, it meant a victory and a chance to win the Superbowl. The reality is that some people will be happy to see others fail for whatever reason. Maybe their failure will prove me right, or perhaps it will allow me some gain.

2. Some People Will Simply Criticize. The Saints fans obviously were disappointed. Immediately some people were calling for Mr. Williams to be cut from the team or at least a demotion. Other people suggested a quick trade to some lousy team. There was a long line of people willing to throw stones and offer criticism.

3. Some People Will Make Fun of Them. This is the quickest way that most disconnected people respond. If you were not a Vikings or Saints fan, then it is easy to laugh at the situation. Today I have seen over a dozen posts making fun of Mr. Williams failure, and I am sure I will see scores more before the end of the day.

4. Very Few Will Offer Understanding. As I watched the play unfold, I immediately thought of that man’s parents. Maybe that was because I have been the parents of the kid who screwed up. I have ached as my child missed the shot, dropped the ball or failed in some way. I cannot imagine the emotional heartache Marcus Williams is feeling today. He let his team down, and no one will remember anything from that game but his failure. I am sure he is disappointed in himself at a low I might never understand. Those who care about him the most are few, but they are hurting with him today.

Amazingly enough, after the game, Mr. Williams accepted a few questions. He spoke of his failure and letting his team down. He was clearly hurting inside from this one big mistake.

Today as I watch the social media torture of one man for a mistake, I wonder what kind of person I am in response to the failure of others. Do I feel joy at the demise of others? Am I quick to judge? Am I the type to stand back and make fun of the whole thing?

As a Christian, I am called to hurt with those who hurt. Maybe this is not the best example, but it does underline the basic human responses to failure. Will I follow the crowd with my words or will I follow Christ?

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