How To be a Spiritual Champion

SuperBowlIf you are a sports fan, what a great week-end!  Some exciting basketball games.  Especially Indiana’s win over #1 Michigan!  And then a Super Bowl that looked like it was going to be a super bust, that saw a comeback by the San Francisco 49ers that just fell short, as the Baltimore Ravens hung on to win.

I’m always reminded when watching sporting events how the qualities that make for success on the athletic field are similar to those we need to acquire in our Christian lives. In fact, the apostle Paul wrote it about using the imagery of the sports world.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Cor 9:24-27)

If you desire to be a champion, here are five qualities you need to acquire.

#1 A Champion Possesses Passion. Last night we saw two teams play with genuine passion. With a burning desire. With a will to win. With a heart to be the best. The man after whom the championship trophy is named, Vince Lombardi declared in a speech what it takes to be number 1. “Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them all the time.

The apostle Paul was a spiritual champion. He said, “I run to win….I do not fight like a man beating the air!” In other words, Paul was passionate. He was purpose driven. His focus was on the Lord. He wrote in Phil. 1:23, “ I have a desire to be with Christ.” Vernon J. McGee wrote, “that the highest desire than can possess any heart is the longing to see God.” Spiritual champions possess that burning desire.

#2 A Champion Exercises Discipline. Former Dallas Cowboys coach, Tom Landry once said, “The job of any football coach is to make men do what they don’t want to do, in order to achieve what they’ve always wanted to be.”

For the Christian who desires to excel, discipline is absolutely necessary. Without it, you cannot grow. You will not develop. And you will never mature. Paul said that a competitor goes into strict training. He beats his body. He strains. Stretches.  Such discipline is not an accident. The Bible exhorts,“Train yourself to be godly” (1 Tim. 4:7) “Learn to endure hardship (Heb. 12:7). Discipline puts feet to Christian passion to be a champion.

#3 A Champion Embodies Commitment and Focus The Super Bowl competitors were focused in spite of so many distractions in the past two weeks.  Lombardi was right when he said, “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.

Commitment and focus will determine whether or not you view Christianity as a spectator sport or a serious competition. In Philippians 3:13 Paul said, “I press.” He didn’t look back. He reached forward. He was committed to Christianity. To preaching the gospel. To living the Christian life. If we are going to be successful in the Christian race we must be 100% committed. And completely focused on Jesus.

#4 A Champion practices Self-Sacrifice. There is a price to be paid to be a winner in any sport. There are things you must give up. Everything about Paul’s analogy speaks to sacrifice. The Hebrew writer also used the analogy of sports by saying that you must throw off everything that hinders you. And run with endurance. What do you need to give up in order to be a spiritual champion? A bad attitude? A destructive habit? A pleasurable activity? An improper relationship? A nagging doubt? A misplaced priority? A personal right?

#5 A Champion Develops Character. Athletic teams develop character within the context of their structure and value system. When the first four qualities are practiced, character is acquired.

Character for the Christian is simply defined as Christ likeness. Paul affirmed that his goal and desire was to be more like Christ (Phil 3:10). He is our leader. Our example. Our “spiritual coach” if you please. And he calls on us to follow Him.

The Ravens have bragging rights as Super Bowl winners. They earned it. They performed like champions. However, in 100 years it really won’t make much difference. But it will make a difference whether or not you and I developed the traits of a spiritual champion, so that we can one day cross the goal line of glory.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


Filed under Discipleship, Success

9 responses to “How To be a Spiritual Champion

  1. Bill Hood

    This is especially poignant for me, Ken. And, as usual, you have laid this out before us in a very practical manner. I really appreciate your ability to put things in their proper place. I would only add that unless you are a Ravens or 49er fan, the “Super Bowl” final score already doesn’t matter.

  2. Billie


  3. This article could not have been more timely and appropriate for me. I’m teaching an adult class on Leadership in the Church and this will be helpful with my class on Wednesday evening. Thanks a million.

  4. julie davidson

    once again…AMEN, Bro. Ken! 🙂 love in Him, Julie

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