Finding God's Winning Spirit

Be Prepared: Part I

October 31, 2014 | Greg Smith | Devotional


No matter at what level you are playing football (high school, college or pro) you are going to spend some significant time in the film room. A key part of your preparation will be watching film on your next opponent attempting to learn their tendencies, strengths and weaknesses. You will also be watching film on your own team to see where you need to improve. This is important because to be successful each athlete or team needs to prepare and a significant part of preparation is having a working knowledge of the opponent and an even more impeccable understanding of self.

Preparation is key when it comes to performing at the highest level. Roger Staubach, Hall of Fame Dallas Cowboy, says it this way, “Spectacular achievements are always preceded by unspectacular preparation.” Paul (Bear) Bryant once said, “You have to be willing to out-condition your opponents,”  or to quote another famous coach, “To win is important, but the will to prepare is vital."

Preparation is important and part of this preparation is understanding one’s opponent.  Lao Tzu once said, "There is no greater danger than underestimating your opponent.” Sir John McLeod Scarlett (the past Director General of the British Secret Intelligence Service) was quoted to say, “You must never underestimate your opposition.” Mary Pierce (WTA tennis star) when asked about the keys to winning said, “I like to go on the court knowing information about my opponent". John Heisman’s view was, “When you find your opponent's weak spot, hammer it.”

The third key element of preparation is knowing oneself. Sun Tzu in The Art of War says, “Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster”.  Lao Tzu (sixth century B.C. philosopher) once said, “It is wisdom to know others; it is enlightenment to know one's self.” Jack Nicklaus was quoted to say, “Success depends almost entirely on how effectively you learn to manage the game’s two ultimate adversaries: the course and yourself.”

I always tell clients that the only consistent element in any situation is them. “Self” is not the only consistent element in competition; it is probably the most important.  It was Aristotle who said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”  John Wooden (Hall of Fame UCLA coach) put it this way, “Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” In any case, preparation, knowledge of the opponent and knowing self are key contributors to victory. 

It is easy for athletes to fall into the trap of thinking that what stands in the way of victory is an individual or a team – the opponent. More often than not what prevents them from winning is not just the opponent but the inability to perform at the level needed to win. Their downfall may have less to do with the performance of their foe and more to do with their inability to prepare or perform at their highest level.

No matter if it is on the field of play, in the conference room or in our family room, we need to be intentional about those things that restrict our ability to perform well. We need to know our opponents.  We need to know where we struggle and are vulnerable; we need to know what brings us down or defeats us in life.

Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to living the Christian life. If we are going to be victorious (live the abundant life of John 10:10) we are going to have to apply this same process to our faith. When we talk about preparation, knowing our opponent and knowing ourselves in relationship to sports performance, this all makes simple sense – not so much when we apply it to our Christian life.

This is the beauty of Sports Theology; using either one to teach the other. How does this sports analogy relate to living the “abundant life”? Gather your thoughts and we will talk about this in Part 2.

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