5 Lessons The Olympics Teach Christians
by Steve Backlund
- Winners are people who train well – Those who develop a "training mentality" for life and ministry will have a much greater likelihood of victory in the future. Whether we realize it or not, each of us are currently in training in our attitudes, our beliefs, our habits, our responses, how we treat people, our priorities, and many other areas of life. "For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come," (I Timothy 4:8). "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown," (I Corinthians 9:24-27).
- Big vision creates big sacrifice – Athletes have a goal of winning which propels them to discipline their lives and bodies to have future victory. The more vision we have for the future, the more motivation we have to sacrificed momentary pleasures for that vision. "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God," (Hebrews 12:2).
- It is good to have an "impossible" dream – We cannot be an Olympic champion if we never try for something that seems impossible. Some would say it is ridiculous to have such a big goal, but the world is moved positively forward by people who refuse to be "realistic," but who believe in a supernatural God. Even though Abraham struggled to believe the "impossible," he eventually did and became our champion of faith. "Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, 'Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?' And Abraham said to God, 'Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!' Then God said: 'No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him' (Genesis 17:17-19).
- You don’t have to win a gold medal to be a winner – Olympic champions cannot become champions by themselves. They need coaches and others to help them succeed. In the Kingdom, there are those who reap great harvests of victory, but many will be blessed in this life and the next because they had a part in a manifested victory. "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor," (I Corinthians 3:5-8).
- Past negative circumstances does not determine the possibility of future success – Most gold medal winners experienced a great deal of failure on the pathway to their success. One requirement of a "winner" is to never quit or give up on the passions and gifts we believe God has given us. "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus," (Philippians 3:13-14). "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart," (Galatians 6:9).
What lessons has the Olympics taught you about the faith journey? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.