I've been enjoying the Olympics the last couple of weeks and have had fun following Michael Phelps in men's swimming. According to Fox Sports, "Michael Phelps is the greatest Olympian in history, on the short list for greatest athletes ever and, with every passing race, becomes more like his idol, Michael Jordan." But Phelps' rise to stardom did not come without hard work and perseverance, both physically and emotionally. Even after winning eight medals in the Beijing Olympics, Phelps says he despised the image of perfection his success had created. In an interview with Sports Center, Phelps says, "I was just a train wreck. I was just a time bomb waiting to go off. No self esteem, no self worth. I was so lost." How does the most successful swimmer in history have a self esteem problem?
In 2014, Michael was pulled over for speeding (81 mph in a 55 mph zone) and arrested and charged with his second DUI in 10 years. Michael was contemplating suicide, but Ray Lewis, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker and friend of Phelps, helped Michael to seek help at a rehabilitation center. He also gave him a copy of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. The book contained the message Phelps needed to hear: It's not about accomplishments, it's not about praise. Life is about God and our need for him. No Olympic medal can mask the feelings of worthlessness that comes from not knowing God.
Other Olympians I've watched have also been quick to give God the glory for their success... Laurie Hernandez, Steele Johnson, David Boudia and others. Instead of being bound by bitterness, they relied heavily on God and prayer during times of tribulation. I Chronicles 16:8 says "Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done." These athletes have done just that!
Ask your teen...
Who inspires you? Who sits among the cloud of witnesses cheering as you run the race?
Use your gifts to glorify God, whether your "field" is a pool, court, track, stage, easel, or classroom.
Thank you God, for being with us in all our wins and losses, our joys and our sorrows.