Sunday, July 19, 2009

King David can help us understand Steve McNair's death and decisions better

It has been two weeks since the death of former Tennessee Titans' quarterback Steve McNair. He was shot to death by his mistress in a murder-suicide that continues to impact thousands in Middle Tennessee.

There is a lot that can be learned from this event. The circumstances of his death do not need much elaboration. He made bad decisions, and they dearly cost him.

If nothing else, his decision making leading up to his death should teach us to never let our guard down. When most of us make mistakes, we have the opportunity to correct them.

However, McNair will not have that opportunity. Because of this, he leaves a shattered family and stunned friends. His wife, Mechelle, has become a widow under the most painful of circumstances. His four sons likely face years of struggling as they come to terms with their father's death and the situation in which it took place.

As a culture, we put famous athletes on a pedestal, but McNair's decision making shows that he was just like the rest of us. We are all capable of making horrible decisions like he did, and if a person thinks otherwise, he needs to go take a long look in the mirror.

His mistakes remind me a lot of the actions of King David in the Old Testament. David was described as a man after God's own heart. He was passionately devoted to God, and the impact of his life can still be felt thousands of years later.

Of course, as time passed, he made a lot of bad decisions, too. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then had her soldier husband Uriah killed in battle. There were other poor decisions associated with this situation, and his mistakes also had a shattering impact on him and the people around him.

David was an exalted man, but despite his status, his decisions revealed him to be just a man capable of making decisions to sin. If he and McNair can make these decisions, we must remember that we can, too.

In the aftermath of McNair's death, we also learned how to keep shocking events in perspective. Frankly, I believe folks in Middle Tennessee deserve credit for not allowing his death to become just another "scandal of the week."

In recent years, when a well-known person has fallen, the tendency has been to focus intensely on what that person has done wrong. While this is sometimes necessary, it often has resulted in the loss of all the other characteristics of that person. This approach has caused us to lose sight of how important it is to maintain a balanced approach when sizing up people and situations.

The media and those close to McNair did a good job of helping us maintain a well-rounded idea of who he was. Some criticized this by saying that they were protecting McNair too much and de-emphasizing the circumstances of his death.

Those critics are wrong. There is nothing the media or his friends could have said that will wash away the stain of how he died. It is part of his legacy. From this point, when a person thinks of McNair, his manner of death will be part of those memories. I don't know if that is fair or not, but it is a fact.

Despite the trauma of his death, life will continue. Even events that rattle us fade into the background over time.

If nothing else, this reminds us not to take life for granted.

It can all go quickly away.

And ease up on the finger pointing.

No comments: