A Life of Constant Growth - Ryan Hollingshead

We’re in the final stretch of the season now. With just a few regular-season games left, we’re pushing for the playoffs. 

It’s been a great year for me, personally. I feel confident, I’m playing well, and I’m growing in my game. The team as a whole is young, but we have a lot of talent. With guys in their teens coming onto the team, there’s so much potential for us to become great. In fact, we all feel like we’re just one step away from being one of the top teams in the league. It seems as if there is just one thing missing, a little more creativity and confidence from the whole team in the final third.

We’ve been playing a different style of soccer ever since we gained a new head coach. He coaches possession-based soccer. As a result, our passing game and possession game has been incredible, but it seems like we’re missing that final piece of the puzzle — getting the ball in the net. In almost every way, our stats are better than the teams we’re up against, but we’re not able to get the results without the finish. We’re playing smart, sustainable soccer, we just need that last step, and we have all the right players to get there.

The motivation to be great, and to lead others to be great, has to start with yourself. If you’re not putting in the work to be the best player you can be, it’s hard to convince the other guys to follow. When I focus on my own game, I get better and I’m then able to help my teammates get better. I’m 28 and right at the prime of my game. Many say at this age, I’ve become the player I’m going to be; not much can change. I totally disagree. I know I have so much potential to grow and learn from other players as I constantly watch to see how I can implement parts of their play into my own.

It’s fun to talk to the younger guys on the team about where they are in their career and where they want to be. The worst thing you can do is to think you have it all nailed down, to be content where you’re at. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best player in the league, without a growth mindset, you’re going to stay stagnant while you watch others around you grow, and eventually, overtake you. The big thing for me is to instill confidence in my teammates, while letting them know it’s OK to try things and mess up. Don’t be satisfied in the player you are today. 

The Christian life is one of constant growth — continually repenting and becoming more sanctified. The scariest moment in your faith is the moment you think you’re past sin or have hit your growth limit. As Christ-followers, we need to be constantly turning toward the Lord and growing in holiness. In the same way that I need to constantly be growing and developing as a soccer player, I need to continually be stretching myself in my faith. We’re never where we need to be. We must have a desire to increase in knowledge and skill. 

In 1 Corinthians, Paul wrote about the imperishable crown we are all straining toward as followers of Christ. As athletes, we may be striving for a trophy, but as Christians, how much more should we be striving for what is everlasting?

How hard are you fighting for sanctification? Does your pursuit of Jesus match your athletic achievements? 

— Ryan Hollingshead, FC Dallas midfielder/defender

Ryan Hollingshead is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions. Check out Ryan’s Increase profile: https://theincrease.com/author/ryan-hollingshead/ 

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