Fixating on What’s Important: Persisting thru Pressure

By Bill Fix

One aspect I have usually enjoyed about watching the Olympics on tv is seeing the inspirational stories of the athletes—how these individuals overcame poverty, disabilities, fears, etc. to push themselves beyond physical limitations to achieve excellence in their respective sports. A new wrinkle has been added this year, however, as arguably the face of the U.S. Olympic team pulled out of the team and individual competitions for her mental health. While some lambast her for “quitting on her team,” others are holding her up as a hero for not risking injury so she can focus on getting herself right…

Simone Biles, U.S.A. gymnast

I don’t have the appropriate qualifications to diagnose whether she made the right call or not. Although I have experienced pressure-packed moments in my life, I don’t know that any of mine compare to having billions of eyes watching while competing under the modern gymnastics microscope, where the slightest flinch or waver can result in a deduction of precious points. On the other hand, are the Olympics more pressure than a potential game-winning drive in the last two minutes of the Super Bowl? And would we ever see a starting QB voluntarily step aside in that moment under similar circumstances?

On a spiritual level, Christians must be prepared and vigilant. I believe that Paul’s encouragement to Timothy “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7) wasn’t specifically just for him, but that all Christians should generally have the same confidence and sound mind. We have a responsibility to teach others about Jesus, and that is impossible to do with a “spirit of fear”—yet sometimes we might need a Paul or Barnabas (“Son of Encouragement”) to tell us we can. Unfortunately, some Christians may grow tired or weary, but we must press on. Paul writes later in the same chapter, “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:13). Sticking to these sound words will guard our sounds minds, in faith and love. Furthermore, “…Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” (Heb. 12:1-2).

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