The recently completed Winter Olympics provided inspiration from athletes who had overcome great obstacles and adversities. Our hearts warmed to see competitors from around the world, representing diverse cultures and speaking unfamiliar languages, united in a spirit of sportsmanship. But most of all, we reveled in victory, the successes of men and women who proved to be the very best at what they do, whether it was skiing, figure skating, speed skating, halfpipe, hockey, bobsledding, ski jumping or curling.
I even conceived a new motto: “You win some, you luge some.” Every victory demonstrated what we could call “the 3 D’s of Success: Diligence, Determination, and Discipline.”
Top athletes start with inherent assets – speed, size, “fast-twitch” muscles, natural ability. Things you can’t teach. But lots of people have those, yet never excel. What separates the winners from the losers – and the “never-even-tried” – are the three D’s.
They weren’t “weekend warriors,” engaging in their sport once a week. They were diligent to work, train and practice every day, often as many hours (or more) as we spend at work. They set goals, ultimately Olympic gold, and were determined not to let anything deter them for achieving them. And they were disciplined, forgoing many things that could sidetrack them from their mission, following rigorous, daily regimens to prepare them for competing with the world’s best.
Most of us will never be Olympians. But wouldn’t it be great if we could become “gold medal winners” as followers of Jesus Christ and His ambassadors? Those same three D’s can play an important role in fulfilling that desire, as the Scriptures tell us.
Followers of Jesus also have a built-in asset: the indwelling Holy Spirit. Colossians 1:27 says each of us has, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” We’re also told, “…it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20). We’re not called to live the so-called Christian life in our own strength. We have the power of Jesus Christ in us.
But this doesn’t release us from the responsibility of pursuing spiritual growth and maturity, to become true, fruitful disciples of Jesus. We should cultivate the same three D’s of diligence, determination and discipline that serve championship athletes so well. We see these traits emphasized throughout the Scriptures; here are a few examples we can draw from the apostle Paul:
Writing to Timothy, his young protégé, Paul urged him to dedicate himself to mastering the Word of God: “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Paul also instructed Timothy to focus on developing his spiritual gifts: “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress” (1 Timothy 4:15).
Elsewhere, Paul expressed the singular focus he embraced for his own life: “For my determined purpose is that I may know (Jesus Christ) – that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding [the wonders of His person] more strongly and more clearly…” (Philippians 3:10, Amplified).
Speaking of his resolve to finish well in his life and service to God, Paul told believers in the city of Corinth, “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
Paul summed it up when he exhorted Timothy, “…discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life andalsofor thelifeto come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8). Nothing wrong with striving for physical fitness and excellence, but spiritual excellence is far better.
We might never step onto a podium on an Olympic stage, but if we pursue the virtues of diligence, determination and discipline, we can experience spiritual success, leading to much gratitude to God, “who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14).
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com. He can be emailed at email@example.com.