memo to michael phelps as well as to the rest of us

The Associated Press reports that Michael Phelps admits the photo in News of the World tabloid of him smoking pot is authentic.

When I heard the news I was disappointed, but not shocked.  I do not know Michael personally.  And I had no inclination to believe he was a pot smoker.  Yet the news did not shock me.  And if it shocked you, it should not.

Here is a memo to Michael Phelps:

How could you be so stupid?  I am serious.  How could you lack that kind of discretion? Don’t you know the eyes of the world are on you?
This will cost you.  No, I am not speaking in terms of dollars and cents.  Instead, I am speaking in terms of respect.  It took years of sacrifice to build what appeared to be a disciplined reputation, and for just a few kicks, you trashed that standing.
There will be many who will excuse your behavior.  Others, however, will always remember your imprudence.  I suggest you do three things.  First, decide today never to smoke pot again.  Second, make that confession and then begin speaking out against the use of drugs, including the smoking of marijuana. Third, form a found a foundation with a nation-wide platform that addresses the dangers of pot smoking.  Perhaps then, somehow, someway, you can redeem some part of your character.
One more thought: why don’t you exercise the same kind of discipline outside of the swimming pool you exercised inside the swimming pool.

And here is a memo to the rest of us:

If you were a fan of Phelps like I was, do not be shocked.  Every human being has a terminal disease called sin.  And sin always seems to raise its ugly head at the most inopportune times.
Quit fixing your eyes on man.  Man will disappoint you.  He will fail you, every time.  He always does.
Use this news to remind you to fix your eyes on Jesus, the Author of your faith. He will never fail you.  He will never disappoint.  Man may let you down, but God never will.

I would be curious to read your thoughts.


14 Responses to “memo to michael phelps as well as to the rest of us”

  1. 1 pastorron7
    February 2, 2009 at 10:02 am

    Great insight and encouragement. I too was disappointed, but not surprised or shocked.

    When I first read about his “mistake” I had to step back and wonder… what could someone post on the internet if they followed me around and waited for my moment of failure? What would could they take a picture of? What could they record that I said? I tremble at the thought…

    One of my constant prayers is this… “God, please don’t let me give people a reason to doubt who you are!” Another of my constant prayers is this… “God, please protect my family from the evil one.”

    Then I thought of Paul in Romans 7… “15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 18 I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

    I wish I had a better answer… I just know that “sin is crouching at the door and desires to have us” all. Thus I must “walk according to the Spirit and I will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” Much easier to write than…

    The suggestions you made to Mr. Phelps were dead on! The reminders for the rest of us were dead on also. Thank you for your astute evaluation…

  2. 2 Searching
    February 2, 2009 at 11:14 am

    I suppose my first thought was that I am in no position to be casting stones at neither Michael Phelps nor anyone else…
    The easy road is the “holier than thou” one which serves no purpose. We would be the preverbal hypocrites to jump all over this very young man and decide that he, at twenty-three, is supposed to have the discernment and judgment of those of us much older because of his success in one area of his life. Was what he did wrong, yes, it’s against the law. Should he have known better, of course, but how many of us did stupid things at twenty-three? The instantaneous communication age we now live in is very different from the one we lived in when most of us were in our early twenties. Now the entire world knows about such mistakes almost as they are happening. But how do children learn good decisions? Sometimes it takes making those mistakes young. He has even greater temptation on him because of his notoriety than most of our children. And for us to assume that he is supposed to have all discernment at his age is ludicrous. My heart goes out to this young man because there will indeed be consequences. And those consequences will be more severe than if it were one of our children because of his notoriety. I do agree that he now has a platform from which to tell the world the pitfalls and consequences of such behavior. And I think your observations for what the rest of us can learn from his experience has merit. I believe that here again we appear to be standing and looking down on this young person with what he should have done instead of the loving empathy that would strengthen him.
    Here is a quick story to illustrate;
    There was a man walking down a road when he fell into a deep pit. The sides were steep and slippery and he could not climb out. He began yelling for help trying to reach anyone who passed by. Soon the man’s doctor passed by and heard his pleas. He looked into the hole and the man asked if he could help him get out of this pit. The doctor looked for a minute and then wrote him a prescription to get out of the pit, tossed it into the man and walked on. Shortly after the man’s pastor approached the pit and heard the man’s cries for help. He too, looked into the pit and listened as the man pleaded with him to help him out of the pit. The pastor bowed his head and said a prayer that he would get out of the pit and walked on. A little while later the man’s best friend walked up and saw the man in the pit. The man again pleaded with his friend to help him out of the pit and all of a sudden his friend jumped down into the pit beside his friend. The man, puzzled, asked his friend why he did that because now they were both trapped. And his friend replied, “yes, but I’ve been here before and I know the way out.”
    For me, that is the posture we Christians should be taking. We ARE sinners and we all make mistakes and we need to take the hand of others how make mistakes and walk beside them to a better place. The place where they can know God and his loving, saving grace.

    Just one person’s perspective.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  3. February 2, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    Two persons perspectives. Thank you Searching.

  4. 4 Ladd
    February 2, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Yes, thank you Searching for that poinant story and Pastorron7 for Romans 7.

  5. February 4, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    i’ve gotta hand it to Phelps for being man enough to acknowledge his actions and apologize — he’s still a decent role model despite the hypocritical media storm

  6. February 4, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    There are two quotes that popped into my head while reading about this whole ordeal…

    “Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I’m not perfect and I don’t live to be. But, before you start pointing fingers, make sure your hands are clean.”


    Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future.

    There is nothing wrong with the fact that he smoked – we see it as an issue because our government tells us it is. The only mistake the kid made was to let someone take his picture.

  7. February 4, 2009 at 8:46 pm


    Sin is sin. Period. It’s NEVER acceptable and we must refrain from it at all cost. Do we all sin? Yes. But, does this give us an excuse to continue sinning? NO! So, It bothers me when people say, “We are all sinners and stop throwing rocks..” This is often used as an excuse to justify our sins. So, this reminds me of a student in my school who told me today that he wants no part of GOD because he say Joel Olsteen’s sermon on Saturday night and he said to me today in my office, “If God is a God who gives and never takes away, I don’t want God. My mom died and how can Joel Explain that? If God is only good, then why I’m not worthy of God.” I spent more than 1 hour with this kid in my office….trying to give him the truth and not idolatry.” I thank Ryan Whitley that he preaches the WORD of GOD and not the WORLD OF JOEL OLSTEEN BIBLE. Amen

  8. 8 Searching
    February 5, 2009 at 6:46 am

    Dr. Mark, the truth is that we ARE all sinners and that is not an excuse to sin but rather a context for our view of others. If we see ourselves in the proper context we are, hopefully, more inclined to have compassion instead of distain for them. Jesus modeled redemption, compassion, forgiveness and love for people mired in their sin. We do not when appear to others as if we are above sin. The unspoken part of this equation is that we are to seek God’s forgiveness and turn from sin. Jesus came here as a man to walk in this world with us. The lesson for us is to also walk beside our fellow man and lead them to the throne of a forgiving God with hope and mercy. A harsh and judgmental attitude in us does not reflect the presence of God.

    And I completely agree with your last statement. Ryan is trying to expose the God of the Bible so that we can all know him better and love him and his creation more as he does.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  9. February 5, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Jenny, would you apply that same mindset apply to speeding, driving drunk, cheating on a test, and so on?

  10. 10 Regina
    February 7, 2009 at 7:53 am

    Human beings will always disappoint, sin, not live up to expectations, fail, etc…….
    Our Holy God will never disappoint, sin, not live up to expectation, fail, etc…….
    Therefore our hope and expectations should only be in Our Holy God. Since we who have graciously been forgiven of our sins by Our Holy God and have been covered by the blood of Jesus are the representatives of Our Holy God on this earth, it is our God-given responsibilty to live as much like Jesus as we can and to keep on learning more about Jesus so we continue to live even more like Him, so that the world will see Jesus (the incarnation of Our Holy God) in us. We forgiven-and-covered human beings will still sin, disappoint, fail, etc., because we still have our human nature, but there should be such a difference in the way WE live and the way the ones who have not yet been forgiven-and-covered live, that one can tell an obvious difference. Even though we are IN the world, we are not OF the world and the world should be able to see that difference. “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

  11. February 9, 2009 at 12:07 am

    I would apply those quotes yes.

    In drivers ed. we are taught not to speed – but we do – I was rushing to the hospital for a family emergency and got a ticket – since then no matter what – I watch my speed. In high school I did cheat on a test – I knew it was wrong but I faced the guilt and haven’t since. I would not compare Phelps’s occurrence to drunk driving. The only person he “hurt” was himself. He went to the Olympics to compete – not to become idolized by millions. He made a slip up in public and thats what started all of this.

    I am not rooted in religion as everyone else is commenting on this topic so I apologize for bringing my liberal ideas into play – but as I see it the mistakes we make in line sometimes are blessings in disguise.

  12. February 11, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Ditto Regina:)
    Jenny, could you share a little about yourself so we can understand your take a little better? Hopefully, many of us are not “rooted in religion” either. Knowing God does not equal ‘religion’. There is a big difference. I believe God created you. I do not believe God wants His creation to hurt themselves because He loves His creation. Do not apologize for your “liberal ideas”. People share from what they know. You’re not responsible for all you know because we don’t choose our parents, teachers, or life circumstances. There’s no judgment here. We are interested to know about you and your views. “as I see it the mistakes we make in line (life) sometimes are blessings in disguise.” To whose glory? I agree to a point but also believe in natural consequences. I’m curious to know further thoughts or examples on that comment. Thanks for taking the time to share.

  13. February 11, 2009 at 10:43 pm

    Jenny, thanks for the response. It’s been a while since I have been able to read the comments. Don’t ever apologize for your thoughts or ideas. This is the kind of forum where we discuss those thoughts and ideas.

    Please let me thank you in advance for your comments. Please keep them coming.

    Let’s follow your line of reasoning a few steps deeper.

    Why would you not consider Phelps decision to speeding? What is the difference? Are they not both illegal? Doesn’t the goverment say they are illegal?

    One more question of intrigue: where did the guilt come from when you cheated?

    I look forward to continuing the dialogue.

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