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The Olympic Difference

By Jimmy Page, Fellowship of Christian Athletes –

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” – Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

OlympicThe Olympic Spirit
The Olympic Games are so inspiring to me. There’s just something incredible about the Olympic Spirit—the athletes’ internal quest for greatness and their desire to push themselves – body, mind and soul – to the limit just to see what’s possible. I’m always challenged personally by the mental toughness of the Olympians and their never-give-up attitudes. To them, excuses are unacceptable.

When I watch the Olympic broadcasts and hear stories about these incredible athletes regarding how they train and how they’ve overcome adversity, it makes me want to go out and train myself. It’s almost as if my spirit is set on fire with the purpose of pursuing excellence and finding out what I’m capable of doing.

Taking It To Another Level
Some people think what these athletes do is extreme, but, honestly, I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want to represent his or her country in international competition. We would love to be the best of the best and bring home the gold for our nation. Most of us who are athletes—or who used to be—know what it takes to reach our potential. We’ve trained with the intensity necessary to get better, and we’ve sacrificed, pushed and suffered in that pursuit. I think we’d all agree, though, that Olympians take it to another level.

When it comes to being extreme, though, is that such a bad thing? It could be argued that the Bible teaches extreme living—personal surrender, radical obedience, disciplined thinking, extreme serving, costly generosity, unconditional loving and supernatural courage. In fact, Jesus taught principles so extreme that thousands left Him. His power was so extreme that dead men came back to life. His prayer life was so extreme that He sweat drops of blood agonizing over our sin.

Sowing Seeds of Moderation and Reaping Mediocrity
Today, our culture has lost its disciplined do-what-it-takes intensity. We have sown the seeds of moderation and are reaping the fruit of mediocrity. Most of us want a life marked by excellence, but we have given up on the idea because it requires too much effort. We have settled for immediate pleasure instead of striving for the ultimate prize.

Olympic athletes understand what it’s like to work at something with all their hearts. I’d say they own that statement. Some work for the Lord, some for the applause of others, some for their country, and some for selfish ambition. But make no mistake, they work! And I think we would be smart to follow their lead in every area of our life.

I love the phrase, “desire never determines direction or destination.” Wanting something isn’t enough. We all want certain things, but without work our wants eventually become missed opportunities and regrets. Without doing, desires become unfulfilled dreams.

Good Intentions Never Result in Excellence
Instead, I believe disciplined doing determines direction and destination. Desiring must be matched by doing. Good intentions never result in excellence, but good actions do. Consistently doing the right things for the right reasons takes you in the direction of your dreams one step at a time.

Adopt the Olympic Difference Mindset
If you want to adopt the Olympic mindset and pursue excellence, consider these four aspects of Olympic athletes and what I call the Olympic Difference:

1. Olympians win the battle of the mind. They train their brains to reject doubt, discouragement and defeat. They take out the “trash” and take in the Truth, and they keep their goals in mind. They reject negative thinking and refuse to make excuses. Olympians have a mental toughness and a willingness to enter the “crucible” so that they can be refined, tested and proven. As a result, they develop tremendous confidence.

2. Olympians win the battle over their emotions. They know that they have to keep pushing even when they don’t feel like it. Olympians know that anxiety and worry don’t produce great performance, and those who maintain composure in the heat of competition are the ones who typically win.

3. Olympians win the battle of the body. They are willing to discipline their bodies through nutrition, intense training and rest. They know they must master their physical bodies in order to compete at the highest level, and they develop an incredible threshold for pain, willing to suffer in order to reach their destination.

4. Olympians win the battle for the heart. They order their priorities around their mission and aren’t distracted by things that will prevent them from doing their best. Olympians are true all the way through, and, in order to avoid being disqualified, they have to be diligent in playing by the rules.

I think it’s time for each of us to follow in the footsteps of our Olympians and work with all our hearts in whatever area we’ve been called. It is the biblical standard of excellence. And when we are motivated to please the Lord, we are free to enjoy every step of the way. Even the trials and challenges can be seen as opportunities to get better and be refined into the likeness of Christ.

It’s time to turn desire into discipline and our intentions into actions. Pursue great health with an Olympic mindset and intensity! Live a fit life.

C’mon, you can do this!
www.kcfca.org | 816-892-1137

Uncover Your Inner Olympian
Do you want to uncover your inner Olympian and be all God designed you to be? Ask yourself the following questions and consider what changes the Lord would have you make as a result.

1. What intentions have you failed to turn into consistent actions regarding your health? Your family? Your walk with Christ?

2. Are there areas of your life in which you settle for mediocrity? Why?

3. How are you encouraged or inspired to follow the examples of Olympians regarding your physical and spiritual health?

Your Olympic Summary
Each of the four points in the Olympic Difference can be summarized into single words. Check out the list below and be encouraged by the Word of God as it relates to each.

1. Confidence: “So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:18

2. Composure: “Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

3. Commitment: “Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control…” – 1 Corinthians 9:26-27

4. Character: “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” – Romans 12:2

Enter these doors with an unrelenting sense of urgency.
_ USA Olympic Training Center, Colorado

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