Wise Words I Once Heard…and Bobby Petrino

If you pay any attention to sports at all, you are likely aware that Arkansas Razorback football coach Bobby Petrino was in a serious motorcycle wreck eight days ago, and that as more details of the incident came to light, it was revealed that a female passenger on the bike turned out to be an employee with whom Petrino was having an inappropriate relationship.

The national media has been quick to pick up on this story and has been decidedly anti-Petrino (a quick Google search on ‘Bobby Petrino’ will confirm this). Perhaps neither of those facts is very surprising—our culture (and by extension, the media) is always interested in a juicy story about the misdeeds or failure of public figures, and Bobby Petrino has never been very popular with the media anyway (ESPN’s Pat Forde has been on a personal crusade against him for years).

I don’t know if Petrino will be fired or not, and I have mixed feelings about whether or not he should be. I am disappointed in him and embarrassed by his actions, but at the same time, he has been the most successful football coach that Arkansas has had in my lifetime (or at least, in my memory), and I was never under the impression that he was hired because of his reputation for upstanding character.

All of this—the initial report of the accident, the rumors flying around after that report, the revelation of Petrino’s female passenger and his relationship with her, and the response of the national media—has reminded me of some wise words I once heard from Jimmy Allen.

Jimmy Allen is well-known within Church of Christ circles as an evangelist, and additionally, within the Harding University community as a Bible professor. It’s in the latter role that I know him best, as I took his outstanding class on the Book of Romans during my time at Harding. It was in that class (I don’t remember the specific context) that he said these words which I’ll never forget:
“If I hear something bad about someone, I never believe it. If it comes to the point that I have no choice but to believe it, I do not delight in it.”
I’m not entirely sure what it is about us as humans that makes us crave and delight (cf. Proverbs 18.8) in hearing of the failings of others. It likely stems from our own insecurities, and our tendency to feel better about ourselves when we see the shortcomings of others. But that craving and delighting is all closely related to the sin of gossip, which is a topic that the Bible has an awful lot to say about.

In the case of Bobby Petrino, I’m not delighting in the story like a lot of people in the National media and fans of other programs are, but if I’m honest, a lot of the reason for that is because he’s the coach of my team, and I don’t like the ramifications of all this for me. When it comes to hearing gossip about someone I might not like as much, I don’t always do a very good job of following Dr. Allen’s words.

Instead of gleefully focusing on the failings of others, the Apostle Paul suggests an alternative course of action in Philippians 4.8:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”


Justin and Heather Bland 4/9/12, 1:24 PM  

Great thoughts Luke. I need to be reminded of these things and put them into practice.

Dara 4/10/12, 7:23 AM  

Very well said - Thanks for the reminder -

Luke Dockery 4/10/12, 11:09 AM  


I am in the same boat. The temptation to hear and believe gossip about people we don’t like, and to take delight when these things turn out to be true, is a great one. That’s a scary thing, because Scripture has strong things to say about gossiping.

Luke Dockery 4/10/12, 11:09 AM  


Thanks for reading and for your comment!

The Doc File © 2006-2012 by Luke Dockery

  © Blogger template 'Fly Away' by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP