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July/Aug 2012

The Olympic Difference

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” – Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)

he Olympic Games are so inspiring to me. There’s something incredible about the Olympic Spirit—the athletes’ internal quest for greatness and their desire to push themselves—body, mind and soul—to the limit.

When I watch the Olympic broadcasts and hear stories about these incredible athletes regarding how they train and how they’ve overcome adversity, it makes me want to go out and train myself. It’s almost as if my spirit is set on fire with the purpose of pursuing excellence.

Most of us who are athletes—or who used to be—know what it takes to reach our potential. We’ve trained with the intensity necessary to get better, and we’ve sacrificed, pushed and suffered in that pursuit. I think we’d all agree, though, that Olympians take it to an extreme level.

When it comes to being extreme, though, is that such a bad thing? It could be argued that the Bible teaches extreme living—personal surrender, radical obedience, disciplined thinking, extreme serving, costly generosity, unconditional loving and supernatural courage. In fact, Jesus taught principles so extreme that thousands left Him. His power was so extreme that dead men came back to life. His prayer life was so extreme that He sweat drops of blood agonizing over our sin.

Your Olympic Difference
Do you want to be all God designed you to be? Ask yourself the following questions:

1. What intentions have you failed to turn into consistent actions regarding your health? Your family? Your walk with Christ?
2. Are there areas of your life in which you settle for mediocrity? Why?
3. How are you encouraged or inspired to follow the examples of Olympians regarding your physical and spiritual health?
Your Olympic Summary
Each of the four points in the Olympic Difference can be summarized into single words.

Check out the list below and be encouraged by the Scripture references related to each.

1. Confidence: - Romans 12:2
2. Composure: - Joshua 1:9
3. Commitment: - 1 Corinthians 9:26-27
4. Character: - 2 Corinthians 4:18
Today, our culture has lost its disciplined do-what-it-takes intensity. Most of us want a life marked by excellence, but we have given up on it because it requires too much effort.

Olympic athletes understand what it’s like to work at something with all their hearts. Some work for the Lord, some for the applause of others, some for their country, and some for selfish ambition. But make no mistake, they work! And I think we would be smart to follow their lead in every area of our life.

I love the phrase, “desire never determines direction or destination.” Wanting something isn’t enough. We all want certain things, but without work our wants eventually become missed opportunities and regrets. Without doing, desires become unfulfilled dreams.

Instead, I believe disciplined doing determines direction and destination. Desiring must be matched by doing. Consistently doing the right things for the right reasons takes you in the direction of your dreams one step at a time.

If you want to pursue excellence, consider these four aspects of Olympic athletes and what I call the Olympic Difference:

1. Olympians win the battle of the mind.
They train their brains to reject doubt, discouragement and defeat. They take out the “trash” and take in the Truth, and they keep their goals in mind. Olympians have a mental toughness and a willingness to enter the “crucible” so they can be refined, tested and proven. As a result, they develop tremendous confidence.

2. Olympians win the battle over their emotions.
They know they have to keep pushing even when they don’t feel like it. Olympians know anxiety and worry don’t produce great performance. Those who maintain composure in the heat of competition typically win.

3. Olympians win the battle of the body.
They are willing to discipline their bodies through nutrition, intense training and rest. They know they must master their physical bodies in order to compete at the highest level, and they develop an incredible threshold for pain, since they are willing to suffer in order to reach their destination.

4. Olympians win the battle for the heart.
They order their priorities around their mission and aren’t distracted by things that will prevent them from doing their best. Olympians are true all the way through, and, in order to avoid being disqualified, they have to be diligent in playing by the rules.

It’s time for each of us to follow in the footsteps of our Olympians and work with all our hearts in whatever area we’ve been called. It is the biblical standard of excellence. And when we are motivated to please the Lord, we are free to enjoy every step of the way.

It’s time to turn desire into doing and our intentions into actions. Pursue great health with an Olympic mindset and intensity!

Live a fit life. C’mon, you can do this!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: For nearly 20 years, Jimmy Page has been involved in various leadership roles in the medical fitness industry. As the former national director of FCA’s Health and Fitness Ministry, Page now serves as one of FCA’s 11 vice presidents of field ministry and is the co-author of the book WisdomWalks. He and his wife, Ivelisse, reside in Reistertown, Md., with their four children.

--For more stories about faith and sport, visit, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. To subscribe to STV, click here.

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