One of the most important things we can do as athletes, or anyone for that matter, is grow into maturity. Maturity in Christ. In my book, The Jersey Effect, Tony Dungy gives his take on this.
He talked about how we need to grow in four areas:
- We need to grow academically.
- We need to grow athletically.
- We need to grow socially.
- We need to grow spiritually.
Unfortunately, we get distracted by life or what Christ calls “cares of the world.” This can be family, work, sports–just about anything that takes our focus away from God and our relationship with Christ. This is to say, “It’s essential that you keep your desire to be used by God at the forefront of your mind and intentions.”
It’s not that family, sports, and those things we engage in are bad. In fact, a lot of them are very good, but it’s when they become center to God that the distortion occurs.
Photo from The Indianapolis Star
So, to be balanced, Coach Dungy says that we need to order our priorities and resist what our culture deems important. That is, “in our country we tend to focus on one or two of these areas and ignore the others.” This can be where the distortion starts.
In The Jersey Effect we write that “your academic growth is more important than your athletic growth” and continue to point out that “how you grow academically is going to be longer-lasting in its impact.” For athletes, however, reprioritizing one’s life in this manner can be difficult because the world tells us something else.
The third pillar is all about surrounding yourself with people who do one very important thing. They sharpen you. We write in The Jersey Effect to “understand that the friends you choose will help you grow into the person God has designed you to become.”
Finally, the fourth pillar is your spiritual growth. I’m putting it last here because it’s the most important and people tend to remember the last point more than the first. In everything you do, always ask yourself, “Are you developing spiritually?”
Many people, including Super Bowl champions, even with all of their success, can feel a gaping hole in their gut. They can be on top of the world and still have a gaping hole. The void can only be filled by God.