Last week I posted about the identity we have as people and as Christians. The identity we embrace drives everything from the clothes we wear to the things we think about daily.
Sticking with the same theme I had from last week about being an athlete, I wanted to draw 10 parallels from being an athlete that help describe a successful Christian walk as I see it. I know this stuff sounds pretty basic, but I feel like I always have to go back to the basics.
- Know the goal. If you don’t know what you are training for, you are lost. You can’t have a plan. You won’t be able to define success. Do you have written/specified goals in your Christian walk? How do you know you are achieving them?
[Philippians 3:14: I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.]
- Be disciplined about training. I know this is a hard one at times. There are days when I don’t feel like going on a run. Sometimes these days bleed into weeks of inactivity and complacent activity. I always tell myself that even a little bit of exercise beats nothing at all. Best cut the time short but still go out. This applies to devotional time, prayer and bible reading. What training have you done today?
[1 Corinthians 9:25; Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.]
- Help others succeed. Even as competitive people, the sooner we realize that this life is not about us, the fuller our lives will become. There is nothing I enjoy more than watching a friend get hooked on a sport and succeed due to a seed I planted and nurtured.
[1 Thessalonians 5:11; Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing]
- Eat. Nutrition is often considered the 4th leg of triathlon. The body needs food and water to keep going. What food and water are you taking in? If it’s been weeks since your last visit to church or in the fellowship of other Christians you are probably dehydrated and will likely bonk.
[John 6:35; Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.]
- Sleep. When my sleep starts suffering, everything suffers. My work performance all the way down to my ability to run. It is great to keep pushing, but there are times we need to rest in Christ and recover. This may be as simple as waiting on the Lord.
[Psalm 127:2; It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.]
- Celebrate the victories. Nothing is more awesome than a success at a race or a new milestone hit in training! Throw a party and testify about the great things God is doing in your life.
[Psalm 150:1-6; Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!]
- Learn from the failures. We all stumble. It’s failure to learn from those mistakes that will destroy our strength. When we fall down and get back up, we will be stronger than we thought possible.
[2 Corinthians 12:9-10; My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.]
- Read. By reading about others successes and failures, we can be stronger athletes and shortcut an otherwise long learning curve. The Bible is full of these stories and guidance for living. How much are you reading?
[2 Peter 3:18; But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…]
- Be humble. I find that the longer I participate in a sport, the more prideful I can become about my knowledge and experience. This can lead to being a person that can’t learn new things. The best athletes admit and work on their weaknesses and understand that they can learn things– even from new athletes.
[Psalm 25:9;l He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.]
- Don’t quit. Keep moving when the race gets so hard you want to quit. This is the hardest thing to do. There is rarely a race when I don’t feel like throwing up or quitting in the middle. There are highs and lows. This is so much like life. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and focus on the goal line. You will finish, but you must keep moving. [Hebrews 12:1-2; Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.]
Hoping this brings some good things to your week. Thanks for being my fellow athletes.