The Lord leads me in a different way when I’m faithful to be in His Word. Reading the Bible is a way for me to be active in my faith because the Lord meets me there in a deep way. This year, I’m intentionally creating space to meet with Him regularly in His Word as I read through the Bible in a year.
Recently, I was reading Paul’s letter to the Corinthian Church when a particular passage — one many of us know very well — stood out to me. In 1 Corinthians 9:24 Paul talks about running a race.
“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.”
As an athlete, I’ve always tried to make sure I put Christ first — before my sport and career. Because the Lord is my first love and my first priority, I’ve made soccer less of a priority. But at times, I believe I may have taken this too far. I’ve had the mindset of, “Whatever happens in soccer happens. It’s not my identity. I’m not going to let it run my life.” So I’ve never been the one to stay late after practice to work on set pieces or spend extra time in the gym to train. I always wanted to create a good balance, coming home to my wife and kids as soon as I could.
But whenever we hear about a Kobe Bryant or a Michael Jordan who always stayed late in the gym, putting in extra work to be the best, we think, “How honorable that he cared that much!” Whether you’re a follower of Christ or not, that is admirable. It’s great to be able to say you gave the best you could to be the best you could be. If we, as Christ-followers, did the same thing in our craft, but did it to bring glory and honor to Christ, how much more honorable would that be? Such hard work commands respect. What a great opportunity this could be for evangelism — sharing the reason for your motivation!
When I read Paul’s words here, I know he’s talking not only about our professional careers, but about our spiritual pursuits. In verse 25, he talks about doing this for an imperishable crown, the Kingdom of God (NKJV). How much more should we be giving our all for the Kingdom of God?
I want to have the mindset of the winning runner, with his eyes set on the prize. In 1 Corinthians 10:31, Paul goes on to say, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” So if I’m spending over four hours a day on the soccer field, why would I not spend that time trying to be the very best I can be, not for my own reputation, but for God’s glory?
I want to be a man who, in whatever I’m doing, I’m not doing it half-heartedly, but to win the prize. I may be 28 years old and considered a veteran in the league, but by the grace of God, I’ve never felt stronger, more mentally astute, or quicker on my feet than I do today. God has given me a fresh perspective and new ideas. I’m excited to push myself — body, mind and spirit — to be the best I can be for the glory and honor of God.
— 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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