In those days our usual return from an Olympics was about 18 medals in total, of which a mere handful would have been gold. Now as I write ,we are third in the medal table.
There are various reasons for this upturn in our Olympic fortunes ,not least the money that has come from the lottery,which has enabled a huge investment in good coaches and great technology to help improve our athletes.They have responded brilliantly.
This year we have also had home advantage, and athlete after athlete, has testified just what a difference the crowd has made and how inspiring it is to run,or sail, or cycle with so many people supporting you.
I have been reflecting on the lessons the church in the UK could learn from Team GB and come up with 5 things that I place in no particular order of importance. I will cover these over the next 2 or 3 posts.
The importance of being focussed.
Olympic medallists are not just there for the ride (or the row or the swim)
They know what they want to achieve ,they have a goal in mind and pursue it with all their might.To that end they get up early ,they work long hours ,they put in the hard yards,they don't give up they stay focussed on the goal of Olympic glory
This is inspiring but it is not new ,the apostle Paul uses language in his letters that reveals athletes in his day showed the same determination
"I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us"
As I reflect on my life as a Christian so far I can think of many instances when the focus of the church has not been the goal of our high calling, but on rather more trivial things,like worship style ,music used in church ,the colour the walls should be painted, and what kind of furniture we have in our building. I understand that people feel passionate about these things (though not always why they feel passionate about these things!) but they can stop us keeping the main thing the main thing,and distract us from our major calling to love Jesus and others in His Name.
The Importance of Encouragement
As happens at most Olympics ,the nation has got behind the home team and the team has said it has made a huge difference, that they have performed far better than they would have done otherwise. I heard a rower say it was the crowd that pulled them towards the finishing line.
One of my favourite bible characters is Barnabas who was a great encourager of the apostle Paul ,of John Mark , and of the first Gentile Christians among others..He is a great role model and his encouragement made a practical and tangible difference to those he encouraged.They became better because of the encouragement
I am grateful for the encourager's I have met in the past and for those that sustain me today.
I would not have gone into ministry without the encouragement of a pastor who believed in me I wouldn't have remained in ministry without the encouragement of friends and fellow leaders when things just seemed too hard
Too often Christians seek to exercise a ministry of discouragement, rather than encouragement, and because of this other Christians fail to reach their full potential.
I once heard Dick Lucas say that the greatest danger Christian leaders faced was discouragement.I think he is right but in fact the race can be tough the going can be difficult for all of us & we should all seek to be encourager's.It would make a huge difference as we saw spiritual gifts being released and people achieving great things by God's grace.
I will continue with this in the next post