Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Learning from Athletes

It's becoming a source of humor around here that I don't keep up with sports. People mention unfamiliar names with a tone of reverence and I'll ask about it: "It he a movie star or maybe a politician?"

When I make a faux pax, people roll their eyes and look each other with incredulous expressions. It's just going to have to be one of my adorable idiosyncrasies, and I don't see it changing.

However, I respect people who are into sports and I'm glad to see the kids involved in them at school. I think we can all learn something from the work ethic and what they call the psychology of winning.

I've noticed that the very best athletes have certain qualities in addition to special skill. They all work hard, above and beyond their regular schedule; they practice the basics and are always tweaking their performance.

The other thing they have in common is their ability to recover from errors. The greatest athletes miss the goal, drop the ball, get tackled, stumble and fall. But they always get back up, evaluate their mistakes, and correct their errors. Embarrassment is the least of their concerns—it takes away from the focus of winning.

Seems to me that this is good strategy for the rest of living, too. It makes one a better student, businessperson, and civic leader. It's also good for our relationships. How much better a friend would I be if I did not try to defend myself so much, but instead evaluated myself without shame so I could be an even better friend?

It's also true in terms of morals and spirituality. How much better a whole person would I be if I quit hiding behind pride, looked clinically at my mistakes, corrected my actions, and moved ever closer to God?

"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).

I will never be a good athlete. But I want to be a good servant of Christ.