Applying champion life lessons learned from the game of sports.

Guest Post

This posting comes from Seth Olsen.  Seth is a man I have a great deal of respect for and consider it a privilege to know him as a friend.  Seth is an NFL Offensive Lineman.  He was drafted by the Bronco's and spent last season with the Minnesota Vikings.  Football and the NFL are not his identity and as you read below, you'll get a taste for what his motivation is and you will also be challenged on what your motivation is in your life.
Thanks for writing and sharing this great post with us Seth!


Inside Game

On February 6, 2011, two teams lined up to play in what many of the players will say is a lifelong goal, the largest stage currently in existence for the game of football, the Super Bowl. Young boys dream of one day playing in that big game and for the few that actually make it there, they compete in a high pressure situation with millions of people watching their every move. Does that sound intimidating to you? It certainly can be. Do you ever wonder what or who motivates those elite athletes?

            Football, like other team sports, is a spectacular display of teamwork because success is predicated on 11 individuals working together toward a common goal and depending on one another to achieve that desired outcome. Athletes of all sports, individual or team, have motivating factors for which they play. One of which many would say is playing for the teammate next to them. They also play for their parents, siblings, coaches, friends; or more specifically for the approval of those people. There are others whose sole motivation is money, fame, fear of losing, recognition, or even “getting high-fived by the maitre’d”.
The Story of the Prodigal Son,  Luke15:11-32
Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.  After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’  “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

            The three main characters of this story provide valuable lessons to learn from. First, we can learn from the younger son. He was motivated by worldly pleasures; looking for life independent of God. As our society unabashedly suggests, we should seek after money, booze, and sex because what’s better than that trio. However, after awhile you’re going to confront an emptiness, either in your soul or in your wallet that prevent you from enjoying that lifestyle forever. The younger son was left wondering what had become of his life.

            The second character we can learn from is the older brother. He was motivated by personal performance; looking for life by performing for God. As in high school athletics and the higher levels that follow, we’re judged 9 times out of 10 by how we perform. After all, our coaches’ jobs depend on it. We have this mindset that we must perform well to seek God’s and other’s approval. This motivation of performance leads to performing for people, in sport and life, rather than for our Heavenly Father.

            The last main character we can learn from is the father. He was motivated by love and grace; finding life in Christ alone. Just as our Lord and Savior has for all of us, the father had unconditional, undying love and forgiveness for his son. What does this person look like? Someone who sees joy and delight in what God does. Someone who understands God’s definition of grace.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”     Ephesians 2:8-9

We have accepted the world’s lies, that we must meet certain standards to feel good about ourselves or that we need to be approved and accepted by others. What about what God says is true? We are completely forgiven and fully pleasing to Him. (2 Cor. 5:21) We are totally accepted by God and He calls us His friend forever. (Col. 1:19-22) We have a poor formula for self-worth: Our performance + Other’s opinions = Our self-worth. Why don’t we use God’s formula for self-worth instead? Self-worth is what God declares is TRUE about you!

What's your motivation?

-Written by Seth Olsen