Applying champion life lessons learned from the game of sports.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Preparing to Compete...Having a Chance to Win

Does an athlete just "show up" for their season and in their mind think that they're ready to compete?  Take for example this time of year when fall sports are well under way.  When conditions are extreme, extreme heat, extreme physical demands with two-a-days, extreme competition for a spot, how do you think an athlete will fare if he/she has not maintained a disciplined physical conditioning and lifting program over the summer? Not well.  They're not ready to compete!  Athletes today train year round, every day.  They lift (physical condition), watch film (know their opponent), read playbooks (know what their assignment is), practice (repetition, get it right).  Raw talent doesn't get it done in today's world of athletics.  An athlete must prepare and do what is necessary to be able to compete and have a chance to win.

The same holds true in life.  In my last post (There is Strength In The Numbers), I referenced that the devil is our opponent in life.  His sole aim is to take us out, to keep us from fulfilling God's design for us as an athlete and a person.  In order to have a chance to win in this competition for our life, we need to train year round, every day.  We need to to care for our body, not put things in to it that will harm it, prevent from achieving its maximum potential (physical condition).  We have to read the Bible ( know our our assignment).  There is no "film" to watch of our opponent, yet you don't have to look far to see him at work in the world around you.  Do you see people oppressed by anger, addictions, frustrations?  Do you see people acting out with violence against others just because they can?  The "film" is actually played for us every moment of every day so it's easy to "know" the opponent and and his tactics and strategies.  Everything we need to know about the nasty and destructive intentions of our opponent are listed in the Bible.  Likewise, our assignments for life are given there as well.  We're to live a life that holds others in higher regard than we do for ourselves.  We're to love our neighbor (Matt 22:39), pray for our enemies (Luke 6:27), love unconditionally (John 15:12).  We have to do these things every day (repetition). 

If we are focused on our own wants and desires vs. the design that God would have for our life, we're going to get caught up in all kinds of things that are going to prevent us from having a chance to win.  God tells us that His ways are different than our ways (Isaiah 55:8).  Did you know that God has plans that are uniquely and intended specifically for each one of us?  He says so in Jeremiah 29:11, "for I know the plans I have for you" declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future".  That's encouraging!  God has a plan for you and me; it's a game plan for our lives.  Following his game plan gives us a better than average Chance To Win.  An athlete cannot take a single play or repetition off.  If they do, his/her team suffers; it decreases their chances of winning.  No matter the's a game of (inches, seconds, shots) and so on.  Life is a game of MOMENTS and it's critical to train to win every moment.  If we don't, we are not ready to compete against the the most evil opponent there is...if we don't train for it...we are not prepared to compete...we don't have a chance to win...we will suffer defeat. 

Care for your body , make good decisions (physically train), Read the Bible (know your playbook, know your assignment), see the "film" of your opponent going on around you every day (know your opponent).  Prepare yourself to Compete and Have a Chance to Win!  By doing this, not only do we give ourselves a chance to win but we provide our teammates (those around us, in our communities, our work place, those in need) a Chance To Win as well!  Isn't that a great thing to participate in; helping others Win too?

Monday, September 6, 2010

There is Strength In the Numbers

All athletes set goals for themselves.  It's what motivates them to work hard and excel.  Isn't it interesting though that goals are not accomplished individually?  You can have personal goals in athletics, but without the help of your teammates, you won't accomplish much.  In football, does a running back rush for 1000 yards if he has a poor offensive line?  In volleyball, does a hitter get 10 kills in a game without a good setter?  It takes more than [your] individual effort to accomplish [your] goal; it takes everyone.  Are you familiar with the acronym for T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Accomplishes More)?  It's true.  Recall in the movie Gladiator, when Maximus and the prisoners were sent into the arena to face the  Legionnaires of Scipio Africanus.  It was a given that they were going to die that day, in fact they were told to go and die with dignity for the entertainment of the emperor. 

However, Maximus and most of the men with him had a goal of living and defeating their opponent instead of being defeated by them; this became their "team" goal.  Maximus called them all to a tight group, to lock their shields and defend against the opponent until the opportunity to counter attack presented itself.  He kept yelling, "Come Together"; most did and most lived.  Unfortunately, there were a few that felt they didn't need to come into the group, that they could take on their opponent and win on their own.  In the movie, those who stayed outside the group were easy pickings for the opponent.  They were quickly hit with spears and arrows and killed. 

The same is true in life.  If you want to really have an impact, really want to reach your goals and help others achieve theirs, you have to go it together.  When we try to go things alone, we become vulnerable to our [opponent].  In life, the opponent is the devil.  The Bible speaks clearly that the devil came to kill, steal and destroy [us] (John 10:10).  That's his sole intent; to take us out, defeat us.  Just like in athletics, we are locked in a fierce competition and it's for our life. Will our life be used for "good" which is to live a selfless life, give ourselves away, make others better and live a life of serving others and not seeking our own personal wants and desires.  Or, will we be defeated by our "opponent", the devil.  Will he get us separated from the group, out on our own.  Will he win over us by getting us into some of life's traps like pride, lust, addictions and so on?  The battle is real and the devil, our opponent is playing for keeps.  The traps I mentioned are just a few, but there are far many more that exist that once you step in them, you cannot get out of them on your own; just like an animal trap.  Consider addictions to pornography, meth, alcohol and having to resort to stealing just to be able to get some money to support an addiction.  These traps bring about shame, they close the jaws of their trap around your life and render you ineffective.  They place you on the sidelines of life, prevent you from ever getting into the game.  As a result, our "opponent" wins. 

God's design is far better though, so be encouraged.  Just as in sports where it takes everyone to accomplish the goal, the same is true in life.  Without coming together with our teammates we will not accomplish our goal.  In life, not coming together with [teammates] we are left vulnerable to our enemy and there is a strong likelihood that we will be taken out, defeated.  Embrace the Strength in the numbers and the increased chances for success therein and be a part of the team!