Quotes about Athletic_Mentality
Howard Hendricks once described the local church as a football game: Twenty-two people on the field, badly in need of a rest, and forty thousand in the stands, badly in need of exercise.
We should not run aimlessly or halfheartedly, as though we signed up just to get a T-shirt, but as runners who look to receive the “well done” from our Lord and Master.
Endurance is a key indicator of spiritual fitness.
Any training – physical, mental, or spiritual – is characterized at first by failure. We fail more often than we succeed. But if we persevere, we gradually see progress till we are succeeding more often than failing. This is true as we seek to put to death particular sins. At first it seems we are making no progress, so we become discouraged and think, What’s the use?! I can never overcome that sin. That is exactly what Satan wants us to think. It is at this point that we must exercise perseverance. We keep wanting instant success, but holiness doesn’t come that way. Our sinful habits are not broken overnight. Follow-through is required to make any change in our lives, and follow-through requires perseverance.
As we become soft and lazy in our bodies, we tend to become soft and lazy spiritually. When Paul talked about making his body his slave, so that after having preached to others he himself would not be disqualified, he was not thinking about physical disqualification, but spiritual. He knew well that physical softness inevitably leads to spiritual softness. When the body is pampered and indulged, the instincts and passions of the body tend to get the upper hand and dominate our thoughts and actions. We tend to do not what we should do, but what we want to do, as we follow the craving of our sinful nature.
Bodily exercise will profit nothing if abstracted from those more spiritual. The glory that God hath, and the comfort and advantage that will accrue to your souls is mostly from the spiritual exercise of religion.
Seven laws for running the [Christian] race.
1. Run to win: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
2. Observe strict discipline: “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training… I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).
3. Don’t look back: “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
4. Get constant encouragement: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us…run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:1-3).
5. Throw off restraints: “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).
6. Discount pain: “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:22-24).
7. Don’t let up until you cross the line: “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day-and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
“Fixing our eyes on Jesus” is perhaps the most important lesson in this athletic metaphor. Any runner in the Greek stadium who took his eyes off the goal and either looked at the crowds, or his competitors, would lose valuable time and concentration. So it is in the Christian life. When we get our eyes off the Lord, and onto others, we are in danger of getting sidetracked spiritually.
Why do people punish their bodies to run a grueling marathon race? Most runners name two reasons: the sense of personal reward they get and the physical benefits of the exercise. The same two rewards apply in the spiritual realm: great prizes await those who persevere, and the very process of living by faith builds strong character.
The word discipline in “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7, NASB) is a word with the smell of the gym in it – the sweat of a good workout. It is an unabashed call to spiritual sweat.
The rich etymology of “discipline” suggests a conscious divestment of all encumbrances, and then a determined investment of all one’s energies. Just as ancient athletes discarded everything and competed gumnos (naked), so must the disciplined Christian man divest himself of every association, habit, and tendency which impedes godliness. Then, with this lean spiritual nakedness accomplished, he must invest all his energy and sweat in the pursuit of godliness.
In a word, [Paul] is calling for some spiritual sweat (1 Timothy 4:7)! Just as the athletes discarded everything and competed gumnos – free from everything that could possibly burden them – so we must get rid of every encumbrance, every association, habit, and tendency which impedes godliness. If we are to excel, we must strip ourselves to a lean, spiritual nakedness. The writer of Hebrews explains it like this: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1). Men, we will never get anywhere spiritually without a conscious divestment of the things that are holding us back. What things are weighing you down? The call to discipline demands that you throw it off. Are you man enough?
The successful Christian life is a sweaty affair!
Living the Christian life is often described in the Bible with words and phrases such as: “warfare,” “fight,” “run the race,” “yield not,” “work out,” and “press on.” The Christian life is a disciplined life of constant vigilance, of taking up the cross daily. There are no short-cuts. The spiritual conflict will continue till we step on the other side of glory.
If we are feeling weighed down and exhausted, the problem isn’t Jesus. He is unfailingly an energizing presence. Nor is the problem the race He has called us to run. The problem is something else, even something non-sinful and allowable, but it prevents us from running an unleashed, all-out race. Getting clean rid of it, because our hearts are reaching for the promises of God — that is living by faith.
It is not sufficient for any man to run well for a season only. Whatever your attainments may be, and whatever you may have done or suffered in the service of your God, you must forget the things that are behind, till you have actually fulfilled your course and obtained the crown.
Between the many opportunities in a lifetime to distrust God during trials or doubt God during persecution or desert God during worldly temptations, our journey with Christ is an ongoing fight that needs to go all 12 rounds.
What are some traits that mark an Olympian? 1. They have a “whatever-it-takes” attitude. They’ve made the decision to pay any price and bear any burden in the name of victory. 2. They have a plan to push forward when they encounter obstacles. They know facing adversity is part of being successful. 3. They have strict accountability. 4. They consider “very good” (or worse, “good enough”) to be “bad.” They are driven to perform at an elite level. 5. They set high goals for themselves. Motivation is keeping your eyes on the goal. 6. They are humble to know others can provide advice to make them better. 7. Levels of priorities are set and their life stays in-tune with those priorities. The same single-minded devotion expected from an Olympian is the same single-minded devotion our Savior expects from His followers. Yes, the fruit of sacrifice and self-denial will be different. Yes, the goals and rewards are different. And yes, the source of strength is different. However, the traits that mark an Olympian that I mentioned earlier could also apply to the traits that mark a disciple of Jesus Christ. If anything, we should be more motivated (see 1 Cor. 9:24-27a).
Tight races are lost when a runner chooses to look over his shoulder. It’s a strong temptation that needs to be resisted. Looking behind in many ways will deter our momentum going forward. The same is true in the spiritual race. We are commanded to “forget what lies behind.” Both our forgiven spiritual failures and successful spiritual efforts will significantly hinder us from “reaching forward to what lies ahead” (Phil 3:13).