Athletes train to compete in their sport. Usually, this is a complement of physical and mental activities and routines that prepare their bodies and minds to give themselves the best possible chance at success. For those of us who were or are athletes, have we ported those habits to daily life? Do we prepare for our engagement in life’s arenas with the same zeal as the athletic venues in which we competed? Are we mentally and physically fit to achieve success at home, at work, or in the communities in which we live?
If the answers to these questions are all “no,” then I kindly submit to you that changes are needed to convert the answers to all “yes.” To live a joyful and meaningful life, you must prepare to compete in life’s arenas and bring life back to what’s important. Otherwise, you will conform to what the world wants you to be, and the forces in the world don’t have your best interests at heart. Those forces seek to distract you from your true purpose, i.e. why you’re here and what you’re called to do.
WARNING … the type of preparation I’m suggesting does not result in glory for yourself. Yes, you have a responsibility to train and compete and that burden rests squarely upon you. However, the moment of triumph is no doing of yours. We are not great. Everything we earn and have is a gift from God. Therefore, we ought to receive it and be thankful. This is the humility that keeps us grounded. It keeps our backs from being broken by the weight of our glorified egos.
Certainly, many reject this notion. That’s ok. It’s not for everyone. But to those who humbly accept it, we are liberated to be peacemakers in life’s arenas. As we compete, we do so by operating with these four principles in mind:
- Never rely on yourself in anything.
- Bear always in your heart a perfect and all-daring trust in God alone.
- Strive without ceasing.
- Remain constantly in prayer.
Here are the practical applications of these principles in daily life:
- No matter how well-intentioned we are, we have blind spots about others. Therefore, we will unintentionally hurt people in situations and graciously welcome feedback and seek forgiveness.
- We know we all stand in need of repentance and rely on God to help us grow in humility, non-covetousness, freedom from anger, and self-control.
- We persist in striving for our whole lives, knowing that the work of relational healing is ongoing.
- We pray for this without despair or giving up hope.
Serious athletes don’t complain about being tired because getting tired is a necessary component of a well-fought game, which has ebbs and flows. Life is the same way. There will be moments of distress and discord along with comfort and harmony. It’s up to each of us to decide to prepare for all moments we will encounter in life’s arenas so that we may maintain proper perspective and serve as peacemakers.