When Pride Goes Before The (Epic) Fail

We all witnessed a television “first” on season 22 of The Amazing Race last night.  Contestants John and Jessica were the last team to check in and were eliminated from the race, while still in possession of an express pass.

In case you have never watched the show, the “express pass” allows a team to skip over a particular competition and move ahead to the next challenge or to the pit stop. So, for example, if a team is currently #10 of 10 teams in a particular competition and  if they are losing ground on the other 9 teams, they can exercise an express pass to move ahead of the other teams.  They can go from last to first with one move.

Consider it a “get out of jail for free” equivalent.

So here was Team JJ (Jessica and John). Consider these conditions of their competition:

  • Other teams were and had been completing the event and moving on to the pit stop.
  • Team JJ was struggling mightily with their competitive event.
  • They were holding an express pass.
  • Jessica told John, “Let’s just use the express pass.”

So what did John decide?  He decided to try to complete an alternate task to get ahead.  He figured that since they had the express pass in hand they should not risk using it too soon when they could work harder and beat a team the old fashioned way.

And then this happened.

Watch that clip again.  John cannot at any point admit wrong doing.  He has lied to himself about (1) not needing to use the express pass and (2) Team JJ is still in the race. He believes these lies to such an extent that he thinks his team can still win well beyond a reasonable perspective.  At the 16 second mark he tells Jessica, “I believe there is one team behind us.” There was not one team behind them – they were dead last.

1

This was a classic case of belief conflict.  John is so deluded that it takes his girlfriend breaking the reality check to him at the 18 second mark with a “They have all checked in” before he half way admits defeat with a “that’s obviously disappointing.”  Yes it is.

Okay, even at that point, why not use the express pass to put end the charade of having to “finish the task” and just show up at the pit stop and call it a day?  Instead, he wastes more time trying to complete the event with his girlfriend fuming on the sidelines!!!!!

2

Now, if you have never watched AR before you would not know that most eliminated teams express something like regret, shame, disappointment, etc… But not John.  No sir!  He pulled a move from the Lance Armstrong/Roger Clemens playbook and feigned the kind of regret that is couched in bravado, pride, and non-teachability. Even the host of the show was baffled at such a dumbfounding display of arrogance and reckless risk. Breaking character, Phil turns to the camera and exclaims “Oy vey!” (2:03).

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One of the best things about watching AR is that it is a constant stream of teaching points on life.  Several strong teaching points stick out from this brief episode:

  • Resources are meant to be used, not hoarded.  John treated the express pass as treasure to be hoarded instead of a resource that would help his team win goals. This speaks volumes to those of us who live middle class lives and see wealth and other resources as ways for us to get bigger barns.  And we all know what Jesus says about bigger barns.
  • Husbands/boyfriends should consider the suggestions of their wives/girlfriends.   This is actually applicable more to marriages than to dating relationships for a number of Biblical reasons.  This is especially true within a complementarian framework where the couple works as a team to accomplish goals in life and where each team member has a (more or less) defined role to play within the team structure. Husbands don’t just marry wives to have sex with them (wives are not prostitutes).  Husbands don’t just marry wives for children (Wives are not surrogate moms).  Husbands don’t just marry wives for companionship (Wives are not a dating service). Husbands marry wives for the whole shebangabang.  Our spouses are partners in a life where we love God and love others and participate in His kingdom coming through discipleship.  In this momentary life, Husbands would be foolish to not consider their wives’ perspective and wisdom.  Had John simply listened to Jessica, considered her wisdom, and made the decision to act upon her good advice, they would likely still be playing in AR.
  • When it is evident that you have lost, there is something noble in admitting defeat.  It indicates that you are living in correspondence with reality.  The reason that Phil exclaimed “Oy vey!” was in part because John was not living in the reality of the moment.  All we wanted to hear was, “Man, I should have used the express pass.” Instead we got some treatise on why a notable event was not really a factor in the process of deciding.  At that moment I actually wanted Phil to treat John like Michael Bluth treated Gob.
  • Pride is not just a character flaw – it is a destructive and life damaging element.  John’s pride did not just reveal some darkness in his heart.   It did not just temporarily frustrate his girlfriend.  It destroyed their common goal of winning AR. Pride is not just some etherial entity floating in the atmosphere like a mist that comes and goes.  It is the philosophical hardening of sinfulness and the consequences are deadly.

About Doug Hankins

Although not a Christian in his youth, Doug came to believe in Jesus during his teenage years. When not playing sports or pastoring Doug is probably spending time with his wife, reading a good book, or drinking some hot tea. Doug's first book Dawson Trotman: In His Own Words is available wherever books are sold. You can follow Doug on twitter.
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