You know you’ve arrived when Forbes says you’re “on the verge of global stardom.” That’s what’s happening to Kevin Durant, the best basketball player most people have never heard of. This year’s NBA Finals is a showdown between Durant and the world’s best-known basketball star, LeBron James. Round one went to Durant Tuesday night—he scored 36 points and led his Oklahoma City Thunder to a come-from-behind victory over James and the Miami Heat.
Basketball fans need no introduction to Durant. He turned pro in 2007 after just one year at the University of Texas, where he won college Player of the Year (a first for a freshman). He has been selected to the All-NBA team the past three seasons, and has led the league in scoring each of those years. According to Dirk Nowitzki, last year’s Finals MVP, Durant is “arguably the best player in the league right now.” And he’s better-liked than his better-known competition: only 30% of people find James appealing; Kobe Bryant fares worse at 23%. Durant, by contrast, is liked by 56% of those who are aware of him, among the highest rates in the NBA.
What is the secret of his personal popularity? He told an interviewer: “I’ve just got to be thankful to the Lord for what gifts He’s given me. My gift back to Him is to always be humble and to always try to work as hard as I can.” When asked more about his faith, Durant said, “I go to chapel before every game and I have a spiritual coach I talk to and he’s helping me out a lot in my walk with the Lord.”
Does Durant have more growing to do? “I’m not perfect by any means,” he admits. “I’ve got a long way to go to become closer to the Lord, but hopefully I can continue to stay on the path. I might take steps forward and take a couple steps back and take steps forward. But I want to get better.”
His humility is his secret. Those most used by God are those who are most humble before him. John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). Jeremiah, one of the greatest preachers in history, said to God, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child” (Jeremiah 1:6). Paul the Apostle called himself “the worst” of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).
In Billy Graham’s autobiography, the man who preached to more people than anyone in history states, “I have often said that the first thing I am going to do when I get to Heaven is to ask, ‘Why me, Lord? Why did you choose a farmboy from North Carolina to preach to so many people, to have such a wonderful team of associates, and to have a part in what You were doing in the latter half of the twentieth century?'” So long as he keeps asking the question, his humility will continue to be the answer.
If you want God to use you today, ask yourself why—is it for his glory or yours?