Striving for Excellence

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

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. Below are just some of the examples.

  1. Total commitment. 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. Olympians succeed in large part because they are coachable. 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. Seeing the bigger picture. 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. Learning from mistakes. Remember Lolo Jones in Beijing? She fell when she was clearly on her way to Olympic gold, but she returned to the next Olypics for redemption. In fact, many Olympians have similar stories. As Christians, we can’t let ourselves be derailed by mistakes. We must admit our mistakes, ask for forgiveness, and then learn from our mistakes.
  5. Endurance is a necessity. Some sports clearly define endurance (e.g., distance running, swimming, cross country skiing). 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 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. This passion fuels our attitudes, actions, and words to reflect Christ within us.

Consider how your life as a Christian reflects the characteristics of the excellence visible in the lives of elite athletes. Look at how their lives personify excellence, and then ask what changes you can make to live a more excellent life.