If you were to ask people who are a little older who Tony Bennett is, they might think of the big band singer who crooned “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”. But recently, a different Tony Bennett has made headlines.
He declined what his employer called a “substantial” raise so others on his staff could make more money. This Tony Bennett coaches the UVA Cavaliers who won this year’s NCAA national basketball championship. After the game, he told his players: “Promise me you will remain humble and thankful for this. Don’t let this change you. It doesn’t have to.”
In a post-game interview, Bennett said: “I do want to thank the Lord and my Savior.” He regularly prays for his players in the hope that “they’ll be able to find the truth in their lives that has really transformed my life.”
He’s built his basketball program around the Biblical principles of humility, passion, unity, servanthood, and thankfulness. He’s posted them in UVA’s locker room and emphasizes them in everything the team does.
When he was offered a large raise as a reward for winning the national title, Coach Bennett turned it down and said: “I have more than I need. “I’m blessed beyond what I deserve.”
He credits his wife, Laurel, with the decision to redirect the money into additional compensation for his staff and improvements for their program. He and Laurel have also pledged $500,000 toward a career-development program for current and former Virginia basketball players.
Coach Bennett said: “If my life is just about winning championships—if it’s just about being the best—then I’m running the wrong race. That’s empty. But if it’s about trying to be excellent and do things the right way, to honor the university that’s hired you, the athletic director you work for and the young men you’re coaching—always in the process trying to bring glory to God—then that’s the right thing.”
How are you and I doing when it comes to our priorities? Are we truly thankful to the Lord for our many blessings? Are we building lives that are humble and passionate? How are we doing in living a life of servanthood?
When it comes to money, how faithful and generous are we? As Rick Warren says: “Most people fail to realize that money is both a test and a trust from God.” How are we doing in passing the test and being trustworthy before the Lord when it comes to our finances?