Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Kevin Wayne Durant was born on September 29, 1988 the son of Wanda and Wayne Pratt in the rough outskirts of Washington DC. Kevin was raised in a single-parent home by his mother and his grandmother, moving from place to place as his mother did her best to keep Kevin and his siblings fed. To keep them off the streets she put the kids in youth basketball where Kevin excelled.
Kevin went on to be a star basketball player in high school then the University of Texas where his number 35 was retired. He went on to play for the Oklahoma City Thunder of the National Basketball Association (NBA) where he became the Rookie of the Year in 2008, an NBA All-Star from 2010-13, and on May 6, 2014 Durant received the greatest individual NBA honour by becoming the National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player (MVP).
If you do a search of NBA MVP speeches there are plenty of good ones, but the one delivered by Durant was one of the most honouring and moving speeches I have ever heard. Beginning by honouring God, then honouring every teammate individually, ownership, every coach, all trainers, the fans, friends and family (particularly his mother who laid down her life for him), Durant made me think of this scripture in Matthew 5. Jesus says we are light on a hill, and more than others Durant has been thrown into the spotlight, and he is letting his light shine for all to see and for all to glorify our Father in heaven.
I listened to a separate taping of Pastor Craig Groeschel’s interview of Durant and his mentor Pastor Carl Lentz. In an interesting twist to the imagery of the light, Durant and Pastor Lentz said “you can’t do anything about the spotlight, but you can do everything about the faithfulness in the shadows”. Lentz said that Durant is the same man out of the spotlight when no one is watching. He is a consistent follower of Jesus Christ. Ironically, in the shadows when only a few people see him, he is a true shining light because people recognize it is not for show, but it is Jesus Christ living inside him.
When asked: “which players impacted you the most not only as a player, but more so as a Christian man?” Durant gives credit to Kevin Ollie. While Ollie only played 25 games with the OKC Thunder in 2009, Durant said he made an impression on him and all the players. Ollie was professional every day and it rubbed off on every player. And as a believer Ollie didn’t have any big evangelistic speeches, but Durant just watched him consistently and quietly go to chapel. Durant and other players began to follow him and Durant began to see himself being changed by God. On and off the court Ollie was an example to Durant and he wanted to have what Ollie had.
Now Durant is the leader and he has had the opportunity to be the one that others emulate. Durant is the first to admit his shortcomings, his failures, his sins, yet he began and ended his MVP acceptance speech with glory to God; fittingly he said “He’s the Alpha and the Omega”. Durant spent little time talking about himself and instead honoured all those around him.
Lord protect our brother Kevin Durant from the significant challenges he faces in the spotlight. May he continue to be a light on the hill. May we too be lights on whatever hill God puts us, and even more so may we be faithful in the shadows and thereby shine a bright light on Jesus.