Characteristic of Champions

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I have such great memories of Olympic athletes. Some of my favorites are figure skater Dorothy Hamill, speed skater Eric Heiden, gymnast Mary Lou Retton, and swimmer Mark Spitz. These Olympians worked steadfastly over many years to achieve their goal. As I began to think of the similarities of their journeys and our own spiritual journeys, I came across a study done by researchers at Michigan State University and the University of North Carolina. They studied 10 US Olympians to determine the traits they had in common. I think we can learn a great deal by examining those traits and seeing how we can apply them to our own faith journeys.

1.  High Motivation and Commitment
They spent many years developing the skills necessary to compete at a high level. They were persistent in seeking to achieve their goals. Their drive was fueled by an inner desire, not an external desire, to accomplish their goal.
2.  Optimistic and Positive
Their optimism caused them to look at the athletic glass as "half full versus half empty." They were able to "move on" in the face of disappointment or losses. Rather than becoming disenchanted when their performance was not optimal, the athletes focused on the positive aspects of their performance.
3.  Uncanny Ability to Focus
The Olympians had the ability to concentrate or focus on the task at hand and could block out distractions. They could "dial in" and "intensely focus and quiet the mind."
4.  The Ability to Handle Stress and Cope with Adversity
They were able to deal with the routine setbacks and anxiety associated with training and competing in developmental and elite levels of competition.
5.  Mentally Tough
Mental toughness was another important trait. It was seen in their resilience, perseverance, and the ability to successfully deal with adversity.

When you review the list in the context of spiritual growth, you will see that these characteristics can also be used in our spiritual journey.
1.  Let's become highly motivated and committed to our journey with Christ.
2.  Let's stay optimistic and positive even in the midst of setbacks and disappointments.
3.  Let's develop an uncanny ability to focus on God and his word.
4.  Let's work on our ability to handle stress of daily living.
5.  When we practice these traits, we will develop a spiritual toughness that will see us through our journey.

To view a 16 minute video of this lesson and learn more about living in strengths through the Strengths of the Spirit, Spiritual Discipline, and the Strength of Time, click the link below.

LeadingForward has shared a video with you on YouTube:
Dr.Cathy Robbs Turner shares the 2nd session of the series Living in Your Strengths. She shares the top traits of Olympic athletes and shows how we can incorporate them in our spiritual journeys.

Lighting the Flame

Thursday, June 14, 2012

This summer the Olympic Games will be held in London. I look forward to watching my favorite events: swimming and gymnastics. I’ve spent some time researching the Olympics, and I think there are a lot of things we can learn from athletes, from the Ancient Olympics, and the Modern Olympic movement. We can make connections between living in our strengths and living the Olympic dream.

Let’s begin with Lighting the Flame. The lighting of the flame is the symbol to the world that the Olympics are fast approaching.

The Olympic Torch was ignited in May in Greece at the site of the ancient Olympics. It was then passed to a Greek athlete who began a seven-day relay through Greece, followed by a flight to Great Britain. Then it began a 70-day journey, changing hands 8,000 times on its way to London.
This Olympic Torch Relay will end on the day of the opening ceremony when the final torch bearer will run towards the cauldron and using the torch, will light the flame in the stadium. The flame will continue to burn throughout the Olympics and will be extinguished on the day of the closing ceremony.

The image is a beautiful one. All flames come from a common source. Runners are in a relay moving toward the same goal. The world feels a sense of international unity. People come together for a common cause, a celebration of achievement. We see lots of people moving with a sense of purpose.

These images call to mind the common cause of Christ Followers.

We too come from a common source. We too are runners in a relay moving toward the same goal. We too want a sense of international unity with people coming together for a common cause. We too celebrate achievement. We too come together with a sense of purpose….for as long as the flame is lit.

For as long as our flame is lit …and therein lies our problem. Often our flame of purpose is extinguished. We lose our fire, our zeal for following Christ day to day. We live in our strengths for a while and then we fall back into old habits and our weaknesses reappear. It’s often hard to live in our purpose and to live in our strengths on a consistent basis. Consistently shining our light for Christ is often a challenge.

But we are called to…keep on keeping on. We are to live in our strengths and our purpose so that we can be the light in the world. The way we keep in keeping on is to stay close to the source of our light.

Our Olympic size lesson is…

To stay on fire for Christ, we must live close to the flame.

Jesus tells us in John 8:12, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."

Christ is our flame. In order for us to reflect his light, we must live very close to him. Living close to our flame means we need to follow him, read his word, pray to him, meditate on him, and really listen for his voice.

The Olympic motto is Citius, Altius, Fortius, a Latin expression meaning "Faster, Higher, Stronger".

Let’s run our race for the light of the world “faster, higher, stronger.”

To view a video of Living in Your Strengths Session 1: Lighting the Flame, click below.

Lighting the Flame video

Day-to-Day Whispers

Sunday, June 10, 2012

How hard is it for you to discern God’s whispers in your life? There’s a story of a farmer working in his field on a summer day. He looked up into the summer sky and saw an unusual cloud formation. As he studied the clouds, he was certain he saw the shapes of the letters “P” and “C.” He just knew that God was sending him a message, a “whisper” of sorts, to “Preach Christ.” He fled home to share the news of his “call” with his wife. He excitedly shared what he has seen and told her, “Honey, I’m going to sell the farm and go to seminary.” His wife, a bit more practical, and maybe skeptical, replied, “PC? It seems to me it means “Plant Corn. Back to the field, please.”

Yes, it’s sometimes hard to know the path he wants us to take. That’s why it’s important to put those “calls” through the filters of scripture, prayer, and Christian mentors.

God wants us to discern his messages. He wants to guide our life-changing decisions and our day-to-day decisions. In his book The Power of a Whisper, Bill Hybels describes two aspects of God’s nature.

 We see God as “transcendent” when we view him as powerful, awesome, and lofty.


 We see God as “immanent” when we think of him as intimate, near, and involved in our daily lives.

Which aspect do you focus on most? God who sits on the throne or God who sits next to you? God is both. Psalm 139: 7-10 describes God as both sovereign over all and as close as our dearest friend. Which aspect do you need to focus on this week?

 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

 Psalm 139:7-10

Let’s keep our eyes and ears tuned toward heaven this week and ask God to whisper in our day-to-day lives.

God Whispers

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Still small voice
Strong firm voice
Moments of inspiration

These can all refer to the “whispers of God.” John 10:27 tells us, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” We learn several key things in this verse: Jesus says that we hear his voice and that he knows us. Then he says that we follow him. As his sheep we want to be obedient to his voice and then we want to follow him. But how do we know when God is speaking to us? Often we take a passive approach to hearing from God. We wait for signs and signals. Perhaps we need to practice active waiting by actively seeking out God’s wisdom and direction through prayer, meditation, reading scripture and talking with Christian mentors.

In his book The Power of a Whisper, Bill Hybels shares five filters he uses to discern whether the voice he is hearing is God’s.

 “God, is this prompting truly from you?”

 “Is the whisper scriptural?”

 “Is it wise?”

 “Is it in tune with my own character or wiring?”

 “What do the people I most trust think about it?”

Hybels says, “God is looking for ‘just say the word’ Christ-followers, women and men who will do whatever it takes to follow the promptings they receive.”

Whether you’ve never really considered that God speaks to you or you listen every day for his promptings, we can all feel reassured by the words in Isaiah 58:11, “I will always show you where to go. I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places – firm muscles, strong bones. You’ll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry.”

Let’s invite God to “whisper” to us this week and then let’s listen – actively!

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”
C.S. Lewis

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