Welcome to “Athlos” a weekly blog which examines pillars of personal excellence and regularly brings together the worlds of Christian spirituality and sport.
“…You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed”-Joshua 23: 14
Fear is crippling. It can paralyze us because of the uncertainty that it brings. Often, we do not even realize how many decisions we make out of fear. The consequence is a withdrawn, perhaps timid approach to life when what is needed is courage, confidence and trust.
The fear of failure is equally debilitating. Interestingly, the word “failure” has been in the sports news recently, as the NBA playoffs continue in the USA. The top-seeded Eastern Conference team, the Milwaukee Bucks were stunned by the eighth-seeded Miami Heat, who beat them 4-1 in their first-round match-up. When asked if the Bucks’ season was a failure, their standout player Giannis Antetokounmpo resisted strongly by saying the there is no failure in sport. I am not convinced that many listeners embraced what he said or that he even believed his own words.
Was Giannis afraid of the word “failure”? If a team that was touted as a potential NBA champion gets knocked out by the lowest seeded team, is that still a success? I could be wrong, but to me the real issue here is how we handle disappointments, which are inevitable. When we view life through the lenses of a journey, then we can place setbacks in their proper perspective. To be fair to Giannis, I think he was trying to do so but seemed quite stirred when the reporter, apparently for a second year running, asked him if his team failed.
In Joshua 23 above we learn about God’s perfect character and integrity. When he makes promises, they never fail. Never. Sports personalities love to make guarantees about future results. That is risky business. We must leave that to the Omniscient One. What we can do is live in the moment, while holding a faithful vision for the future. When we fail, though, we must be secure and honest enough to call it what it is because we know that one defeat does not define us. The beauty is in getting back up.
Frankness facilitates freedom from fear.
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