You Don’t Win a Gold Medal on Your Own

Proverbs 11:24 – “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

Athletes who compete against the clock fascinate me. Long distant runners, bikers, decathletes, swimmers, speed skaters, and skiers. At first glance, it appears they deserve all the glory for their incredible successes, or so it seems. If you look a little closer, appearances can be deceiving.

I’ve watched many interviews with winning athletes after their events, and as I watched, I picked up on a unifying theme. Every single athlete interviewed readily admitted that they did not win the race on their own. Without a support team behind them, they would have never reached the podium.

Athletes sacrifice a good measure of independence. If they are to reach their goal, they must be teachable. To win, they need to follow the advice of coaches, physical therapists, and nutritionists. Transparency with their sports psychologists and trusted mentors is also a must. It takes a lot of time and effort to maintain these relationships, but an athlete realises that without them, the chances of receiving a medal are slim.

In the end, the buck does stop here, at least when it comes to athletes. They are responsible for the decisions of their team. They need to do their own research, no matter how much they trust that team. Sports tribunals do not take kindly to disgraced athletes who try to excuse away drug infractions with such statements as “I didn’t know what they were giving me, they said they were just vitamins.”

There is a good reason Paul compares the Christian walk to the training program of an athlete. While we never have to compete for God’s love and acceptance, we are called to live a life of excellence. We cannot run the race God has set before us without the help of fellow believers. The need for godly mentoring and support transcends chronological age. I would go as far as to suggest that a Christian walks in dangerous deception if they believe they can run the race on their own.

Proverbs 1: 8-9 – “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.”

1 Peter 5:5 – “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Fellow Christians bring us substance through Bible study, revelation, and teaching. They are restorative vehicles of God’s healing through prayer, exhortation, and at times, loving confrontation. In close fellowship, we find a safe environment to confess our fears, our sins, and our struggles. We have a family who celebrates our victories and who give us emotional, spiritual, and physical support. We learn to give as well as receive.

God calls us to run the race and fight the good fight. He doesn’t leave us without the resources we need to reach our goals. As we reach out to our brothers and sisters in Christ, we learn to be both mentor and student, healer and patient, comforter and comforted. We learn how to be coached, and we learn how to coach others as they run their race.

James 3:17-18 MSG – “Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.”

Personal Application

Proverbs 18:1 – “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.”

Keeping the verse above in mind, read 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, Paul’s famous discourse on the Body of Christ needing all parts of the Body to function well.

How teachable are you? How transparent? What gets in the way of your ability to receive counsel and helpful critiques from others? Take an honest inventory of the rough times you withdrew from others and stopped asking for advice and counsel. Were those times profitable?

What do you think is the difference between expecting other people to give you everything you need to walk the Christian walk and healthy interdependence?

Is your spiritual growth and education solely based on the sermon your pastor preached last Sunday or are you digging into the word on your own? When you receive spiritual insight through independent Bible Study, are you open to hearing other people’s interpretation of the same Bible passages?

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All Bible verses attributed to the ESV version unless otherwise indicated.

Until Next Week

2018 Katherine Walden

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