Why are we willing to stay up late night after night to watch the Olympics? Why do we sometimes get emotional and perhaps even tear up when someone wins and sometimes even when they lose?

Olympians inspire me, win or lose. Seeing the best competing with the best in the world gets me excited. They make me want to do better, to strive harder for excellence.

Olympians define excellence. They help the rest of us understand excellence & what must be done to achieve it.

Just as Olympians epitomize excellence in sports, Christians should set the bar for excellence in living a holy life. The elements that work together to create Olympic excellence hold striking similarities to those the Bible gives for living life with excellence.

What are some of the similarities between Olympic excellence and the bar of excellence set for Christians?

  1. Commitment has to be total and complete. A casual commitment won’t achieve victory. As Christians, we must be “all in” in a way that makes us stand out. (1 Peter 2:11-12)
  2. Coachability must exist. Olympians succeed in large part because of the guidance and direction of their coaches. Christians also must submit themselves to God and be accountable to one another in order to truly succeed in having an impact for the Kingdom. (Ephesians 5:21)
  3. The bigger picture provides motivation. Olympic athletes often talk about the motivation of representing their country as being one of the biggest driving factors for them. Christians, too, have a bigger picture – that of eternity – that should motivate them. (Philippians 3:14)
  4. Even the best can make mistakes. Remember Lolo Jones in Beijing? She fell when she was clearly on her way to Olympic gold. But she’s back this year for redemption. In fact, many Olympians have similar stories. As Christians, we can’t let ourselves be derailed by mistakes. We must admit them and ask for forgiveness. We must also learn from our mistakes, and then, like David, pursue the heart of God. (Psalm 32)
  5. Endurance is a necessity. Some sports clearly define endurance (think distance running and swimming for example). Others, even though the actual event is over in seconds, still represent endurance in the preparation necessary for excellence. Christians also need endurance as they live out life this side of Heaven and eagerly await eternity and the rewards promised. (Hebrews 10:35-36)
  6. What you “eat” matters. Elite athletes carefully monitor what they eat and drink because they know that proper fuel is needed to perform at a level that achieves excellence. A Christian’s “diet” must consist of the bread that gives eternal life. What’s more, he must actually “taste” the bread; looking and smelling won’t get him to the goal. (John 6:51)
  7. Passion fuels. Olympians must have a passion for their sport. Without passion, putting in the required hours for practice, committing the necessary funds, and making the many sacrifices won’t happen to the level needed for excellence. Christians must strive for a passion like Peter’s (Acts 3:11-26) when he preached to the people after the lame beggar was healed, a passion that fuels our attitudes, actions and words to reflect Christ within us.

While watching the rest of the Olympics this week, consider how your life as a Christian reflects (or maybe fails to reflect) the characteristics of excellence visible in the lives of the athletes. Look at how their lives personify excellence, and then ask yourself, “What changes can I make to live a more excellent life?”