Taylor-006It’s that time of year again… the time where I get excited to win the bracket challenge even though I haven’t followed college basketball all season. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t choose based on mascots or team colors, so guys don’t get all judgmental on me! I do my research and carefully pick, but sometimes, it’s really just a gut feeling. (Thank you 2012 Kentucky team!) This year, all of the excitement and preparing to trash-talk has me thinking though – what does it take to succeed in the dance? More importantly, what does that have to do with our lives tomorrow? Here’s a few thoughts…

Have Vision
“Only he who can see the invisible can do the impossible.” – Frank L. Gaines

For ball players, the vision is championship and winning. It drives them to practice, to train, to be better. Proverbs 29:18 tells us that without vision people perish. What’s yours? Where does it come from? A good way to discover vision is to write your own obituary. Personally, mine is summed up in the hope that at the end, people can say of me – she loved God and loved people. It gives my life direction and purpose. It makes even the ordinary and mundane rich with purpose. If you don’t have vision – make it a priority to find it! We are here to help if you need!

Be Committed
“There are only two options regarding commitment. You’re either IN or you’re OUT. There is no such thing as life in-between.” – Pat Riley

Revelation puts it this way – “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other.” You don’t win a championship by trading teams every week or not showing up when you are supposed to. It’s important to know what you are “in on” or “hot about” – God, marriages, kids, church, sports… because it determines the amount of effort, time, and energy you put into it. It also helps you make difficult decisions with so many things vying for your attention in life. One way to evaluate your commitments is to take a look at your calendar. Look at how you spend your time, and make sure it lines up with the things you want to commit your life to. If not, maybe it’s time to be more intentional or make some changes.

Practice & Work Hard
“I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come. I don’t do things half-heartedly. Because I know if I do, then I can expect half-hearted results.” – Michael Jordan

We are told to “work out” our salvation in Philippians 2. God knows that we are all a work in progress. Then, why would we not need to practice? No one gets good at anything without it. Relationships are no different – they can be hard work sometimes, but the same principle applies – work it out, practice, and results will come! If you are feeling discouraged in practicing and working hard because you don’t feel like your hard work is getting you anywhere, maybe it’s time to call in a “coach,” who can help you “practice” in different ways.

Have Perspective on Failure and Adversity
“It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.” – Vince Lombardi

Athletes who succeed allow their failures and adversities to inspire growth and change. So did numerous Biblical characters. Honestly there are far too many examples to list here, but think of David, who decided to sleep with another guy’s wife and then kill him off. God called him a “man after His own heart.” Can we take the negatives in our lives and allow God to use them for His good purposes? I understand that sometimes they can seem overwhelming, and thoughts of overcoming seem impossible. Why not reach out for help in that?

It’s likely that I could go on and on with what we can learn from sports – blame it on the competitiveness or a slight obsession, but if we took even one of these things and started there, our lives could be different, better even.

If you are in a pursuit of following Jesus, it’s possible to add other lessons from sports such as: following the game plan, cooperating with your teammates, knowing your opponent, and following your leader. Maybe you can take some time to take those lessons further on your own journey or maybe they can be the topic of another blog…

Let me encourage you – press on, run the race with perseverance, so when we reach the end we can say like Paul did in 2 Timothy – “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”