What the heck does freedom have to do with sports?
Almost everyone has gone through the following two phases while playing a sport. The first phase is when you are playing and the game seems so easy; almost no matter what you do you succeed and it takes little thought because the game feels so natural to you. The second phase is one where you are struggling and can’t seem to catch a break, ever. It seems like no matter how hard you try, it is impossible to succeed.
There is a sports cliché that says “90% of performance is mental.” There is also a similar cliché in life that says “10% of life is what happens to us and 90% is how we choose to react to it.” So what does that have to do with Galatians 5:1 and freedom?
The 2nd sentence of the verse explains that to live in freedom is a choice! On the flip side, it also says to be burdened by a “yoke of slavery” is a choice. No matter what we do (sports, work, life, etc.) we have a choice to make on if we are going to approach certain things with a ‘freedom’ mindset. It’s all about perspective and we are in complete control of it! (I picture all the control freaks reading this shouting, “hallelujah!”)
In a book that we are reading as a sports ministry staff called, “Mind Gym” it talks about how “every athlete hears two competing voices. One is a negative critic, and the other is a positive coach. Which voice we listen to is a matter of choice”. The book gives example after example of athletes that face similar challenges but achieve different results because of the choice they make on how to approach it mentally.
The athletes who listen and buy into the negative critic attitude consistently underperform because they are tied down by their fears and doubts. They focus on not making a mistake and ironically in doing so they make that mistake. Or even worse, they go into the task at hand already expecting defeat before they’ve even started. To be blunt, this is a crappy way to play the game (or in a greater context, to live life). This is the mindset that the 2nd sentence of Galatians 5:1 is telling us to stand firm against. As Chelsea referenced in last month’s devotional, Jesus says in Matthew 11:30 that his “yoke is easy and burden is light
An athlete with a positive coach mindset sees every obstacle as an opportunity to succeed. They aren’t worried about failing because they understand that in the worst case scenario they learn something new for next time. As an example, from “Mind Gym”, Edgar Martinez, a terrific hitter in the MLB for years, found himself going through a slump. Regardless of the slump, at batting practice before a coming game he was laughing and upbeat; he was excited because it was another opportunity to break free. He knew there was light at the end of the tunnel and that it was only a matter of time before he reached it.
This mindset is absolutely applicable in our spiritual walk! John 10:10 says, “The thief (devil) comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” We have an enemy who wants to destroy our lives and he is wise enough to know that our most vulnerable point of attack is our mind. He does whatever it takes to plant thoughts of doubt, fear, and hopelessness in our minds in hope that we start to believe them and eventually we become slaves to them. However, Jesus didn’t die for us so we could live this way. He says he already defeated the enemy so we can live in complete freedom from fear and condemnation.
Our fearless Young Adults leader, Jessie Davis, preached a sermon on the topic once and she explained that each thought we have is a seed. You can choose if you want to water that seed by believing it. The more you water that seed the bigger it grows and the more it becomes who you are.
Our minds are our biggest battlefields, whether in life or sports, and it requires a daily fight. May the William Wallace be stirring in all of our hearts to fight for the freedom Christ died for. (This is where we would raise our bibles together and toast, “To Jesus! Dilly dilly!”)
Take a minute to examine yourself and the seeds you’ve been watering in your mind.
Are they seeds of positive coaching (encouragement, hope, & freedom)? Or are they seeds of negative critical thoughts (fear, doubt, self-pity, hopelessness, & condemnation)?
- You always have a choice to which thoughts you are going to believe, are you going to choose to live with a freedom mindset?
- From the mind forms your beliefs, from beliefs form your character, and character forms your actions.
- Your mind takes consistent training to build up healthy thought habits and to maintain them. Be intentional with the seeds you are watering!
Heavenly Father, thank you that you are with us, you are for us, and never against us. Thank you for defeating the enemy so that we never have to live in hopelessness and condemnation, but instead we can walk forward in the freedom that your Son died for us so we could have! Lord would you give us incredible wisdom and discernment to shoot down the flaming arrows and equip us with a supernatural perseverance that never grows weary. We love you so much Lord! We pray this in your name, Jesus. Amen!