Do You Have Broad Shoulders?

Football players, especially running backs and linemen, usually have physically broad shoulders. They’re very strong and able to withstand a lot of force without moving much. Some of this ability comes via genetics, but most of it is developed through hard work, strength training and consistent practice. Their example gives us a framework for developing broad shoulders of our own, not physically, but in a way that allows us to better reach victory in life’s struggles.

What does having broad shoulders mean? It means not being easily offended or at least letting go of an offense easily. It means keeping short accounts and simply not letting offenses linger (Mark 11:25). Having broad shoulders means becoming increasingly aware of the grace and forgiveness freely given us (1 John 1:9) and then willingly extending that grace and forgiveness to others (Matthew 18:21-22; Colossians 3:13).

How do we develop broad shoulders? Developing broad shoulders involves using our strengths to stand up under and even prevent offenses as well as allowing the Holy Spirit to work in our weaknesses to help us struggle through offenses. Broad shoulders also come through disciplines similar to what football players use to become physically strong and skilled.

  1. Build on natural ability. Know your personality and temperament and build on the strengths that come naturally. If talking out a frustration helps you let go of offenses, find a safe person to listen. If writing them out helps, do that. Maybe physical activity such as running or tennis helps you let offenses go. Find what works to release tension, and then employ it regularly to ward off lingering offenses.
  2. Discipline your thought life. Deliberately choose where your thoughts dwell. Instead of thinking about a person’s intentions, consider that you may not know the whole story. Consider that you may be operating under false assumptions. And realize that a bad day, a headache or a poor night’s sleep might be all that’s at the root of the offense. Discipline yourself to give the benefit of the doubt and chose to dwell on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” and anything that is “excellent or praiseworthy” (Philippians 4:8).
  3. Strength train regularly. Becoming stronger only happens through challenge and initial breakdown, just like our muscles only become physically stronger when we break them down through exercise. Don’t avoid life for fear of confrontation and difficulty. Rely on the Holy Spirit to lead you through the struggle in a way that allows you to “live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18) as much as it is up to you to do so.
  4. Practice consistency. This step involves visualizing what may happen in an upcoming situation and then reviewing (debriefing) after a confrontation. Deliberately chose to learn from every situation and in this way “make the most of every opportunity” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
  5. Be a spotter. When lifting especially heavy weights, spotters need to be present to assure safety. In a non-physical sense, being a spotter means seeking to meet others needs rather than focusing on having your own needs met. Look for ways to serve rather than be served.

Within all of these steps, always rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance. We can develop broad shoulders only so far on our own to possibly achieve the world’s standards. Going beyond what the world considers acceptable and doing what pleases God rather than man requires supernatural intervention. This happens by moving forward even in fear and committing your way to the Lord. It happens by realizing weaknesses and allowing God to be glorified as He makes the impossible happen.

Jesus was all about relationships when He walked as a human being on this earth, and He is still all about relationships. Having broad shoulders strengthens relationships as we realize that we are all human, and we all make mistakes. No one truly deserves forgiveness, yet our Heavenly Father freely gives it to us anyway. This can motivate us to develop broad shoulders for the sake of fellowshipping with believers and witnessing to unbelievers.

DISCUSSION: What can you do to develop your “broad shoulders”?

Please take the time to read 15 Words That Will Change Your Relationships by Barb Raveling at Beyond the Sinner’s Prayer. This post relates well to the development of broad shoulders.

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15 Replies to “Do You Have Broad Shoulders?”

  1. Kari,
    I think it helps to have an attitude of choosing not to be offended. I think I see alot of people who choose to be offended. It would be easy to be offended everyday by something. I think being offended by petty things in a sense is offensive. I choose to try not to be offended even when I know the person is intentionally trying to be offensive. It helps me not be bitter and sometimes it causes the other person to act differently when they realize they do not get a reaction.
    It takes effort to keep this attitude but it is helpful for my sanity to try to just not focus on offensive behavior. I sometimes want to repay the offensive behavior but the times I have done so leave me stained after momentary elation of "getting back at someone".
    Lets take the High road instead of the same road.

    1. Having broad shoulders is all about choosing not to be offended. You make a good point about how being offended easily is really offensive. I used to be that way, and I now understand why people had a hard time being around me. Isn't it amazing how simply choosing not to be offended can positively impact another person's behavior? You're also right in that it takes a lot of effort. In fact, it takes deliberate and intentional effort on a consistent basis. Otherwise, we'll constantly find ourselves on the same road as everyone else. Thatnks for the insights Mark!

  2. Great post, Kari. I love all your points, especially the one about being a good spotter. That's an interesting way to look at it. I like how you tied it all into sports. Have you ever tried writing magazine articles? Thanks also for the mention!

    1. Thank you for your comments Barb and for the encouragement. I have written a lot of newspaper articles (years ago), but not really any magazine articles. Would love to, but it just hasn't happened. You're welcome for the mention! Love to promote other articles that confirm what God is saying in my life. That's one of my passions!

  3. Kari, I stumbled upon your site while reading your comments on Michael Hyatt's site. You have no idea how much I needed this post about broad shoulders. Some of those things were distinctly for me right now. There truly is no such thing as coincidence with God. I am looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  4. These are some great points. I think a key word to applying these into our life is discipline. To discipline our self's to become better and develop "broad shoulders."

    1. Sorry about the delay in posting your comment. It was in my spam folder for some reason. Gotta remember to check that more often! Anyway, you're right in the fact that discipline is the key. Unfortunately, it's severely lacking in our culture way too often. Relates to what the Bible says about self-control, don't you think?

      1. No problem. Both words have different meanings but are similar and important to living as a Christian. I totally agree about both "lacking in our culture."

        ps. I commented on your most recent post:)

  5. For me, it's also helpful to turn justice over to God. By that I mean that I don't worry about trying to overcome any offenses, I let God do that. That allows me to handle a lot more, because I know the perfect judge will make things right eventually – whether that's by wrath, mercy, grace, or however.

    1. For my devotions, I have been studying the names of God. Today’s focus was on “The Holy and Righteous One.” Justice is His. We would all do well to let Him fight more of our battles for us.

  6. Life is way to short to hold a grudge over anyone's supposed offenses. Learn to let go, don't "judge" other people or their actions by your own standards. We are all imperfect and would expect the same amount of forgiveness from someone else if we had done or said something offensive to another. God has the broadest shoulders, lets release our burdens to him and ask the Holy Spirit for a spirit of grace.

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