Athlete, Focus on What Makes for Success


Athlete, Focus on What Makes for Success

Jonathan Van Horn

Matthew 22:36-38 (ESV)

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And He said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.”

Growing up I often heard the phrase, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!” The main point is that people have different perspectives and values on different things. An object for one person could be insignificant, but another, could be valuable. It’s value is in the eye of the beholder.

What about in sport? When I think of the “treasure” for an athlete, it is usually tied to wins, trophies, championships and accolades.

Success is found in or defined by the results or numerical hierarchy that deems you, the athlete, a “winner.”

But, should we focus on that definition of success? Should success as an athlete also mirror being successful as a follower of Christ? If so, what does success mean for you as a Christ-follower and an athlete?

Success, or the treasure that athletes seek, can be measured or defined in many other ways. Carol Dweck, renowned professor at Stanford, highlights this idea in her book, “Mindset,” when referring to coaching legend John Wooden.

“He (Wooden) didn’t ask for mistake-free games. He didn’t demand that his players never lose. He asked for full preparation and full effort from them. “Did I win? Did I lose? Those are the wrong questions. The correct question is: “Did I make my best effort?” If so, he says, “You may be outscored, but you will never lose.”

Success spiritually is not earning your salvation, forgiveness, or grace; those are all freely given by the Father! When Jesus was asked what is the greatest command, what does it mean to live out your faith successfully, He responded that success is loving Him with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength (Matthew 22:36-38).

Just like Wooden called his athletes to make their best effort each moment, God is calling us to love Him with everything we got.

Focus zeros in on what is success; not the tally marks that may determine wins and loses, but the work to successfully live out your faith in Christ.

Having a clear focus on the right thing helps you know whether or not you are being successful. John Wooden knew what it meant to be successful in basketball and life.

Athlete, how will you focus and clarify what is success in your faith, life and sport today?

This week’s devotionals walk you through the SHIFT framework, assisting athletes through successful transition in sport and life. You can hear stories and learn more about SHIFT on The SHIFT Podcast on iTunes and Spotify as well as online at


TEXT "PLAYBOOK" TO 775-204-0404

we saved you a seat