have a passing interest in NASCAR. I mean by passing interest that I know a little bit about it and will watch highlights of races on ESPN SportsCenter.
I know that Earnhardt Jr. is very popular but doesn’t win a lot. Passing interest gives me the knowledge that Jimmie Johnson has been on top of the sport in recent years; that Jeff Gordon is not so popular because he can articulate and make complete sentences (just kidding); and that Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart are great drivers, but can occasionally be hot-headed. I, along with the rest of America, knew that Danica Patrick had the pole position for the recent Daytona 500 and finished a very respectable 8th place.So that is what I know.
I also know that the Davis name is not exactly a household one to NASCAR fans. Maybe Davises just aren’t good race car drivers or makers of race cars. I might blame it on my favorite aunt, Ruby, who, as the family tells it, got her driver’s license at 16, hit a tree, and never drove again. Or maybe it is just me. I have trouble on roundabouts, so driving in bigger circles might be a problem. My kids call me “slow poke” for the less than breakneck, NASCAR-type speed that I drive.
All of which leads me to gloat, that after years of humiliation, the Davis family finally brought home a winner in the church’s kids derby car race. I have been helping our two kids make the cars and paint the cars for what seems like eternity or since Richard Petty was a kid. Our son, who is now a senior in college, laughed when I sent him a text that we had won first in the design category and second in the speed category. When he was a kid, if his car just finished the race, he was happy.
I’m not good at building things. I could not begin to tell you how to build a birdhouse, treehouse, or doghouse. I certainly don’t know how to put together a derby car for my kids. With Natalie, I have tried to lower expectations for the race. Each year I tell her how bad our cars have been; don’t expect much; we don’t have a chance; “yada, yada, yada.”
“I can build a sermon, but not a race car,” I tell her with the greatest of humility.
This year, there must have been some divine intervention or the competition has gotten pretty weak, ’cause we won. I couldn’t sleep the night of the great victory — those two trophies created lumps under my pillow. I’m trying to be humble, but now that I am a preacher and a first-class car maker, watch out. Does NASCAR need a chaplain?
Philip Yancey is one of the most popular Christian writers in the world, author of “What’s So Amazing About Grace,” “The Jesus I Never Knew,” and others. He said he made a list one time of those people who had influenced him the most. He says that he stared at the list for some time before realizing that they all had one trait in common — humility.
You may think that humility is simply a negative self-image. I don’t like false humility — you know, when someone counts their shoelaces and says, “Ah shucks, it was nothing.” I hear a lot of Christians saying, “It’s not me, it’s the Lord.” Sometimes you wonder if that is a false humility or bad self-image.
Davis is pastor of the First Baptist Church in Carrollton.