Riddle: Who do you get when you combine renowned success, confidence, consistent hard work, eight gold medals, an average annual income of six million dollars, broad shoulders, goggles, and water?
Answer: The legendary swimmer Michael Phelps.
This year, in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, 23-year-old Michael Phelps made history. Out of the 16 Olympic medals that Phelps has won in his lifetime, eight of those were awarded in this year’s Olympics, making him the number one record holder for the number of medals won in a single Olympics and for the total number of gold medals ever won by a single Olympian, period.
Since age fifteen, Phelps has been consistently training under the professional coaching of Bob Bowman. When Bob was interviewed on Michael Phelps’ phenomenal success in the sport of swimming, he fervently speaks about Phelps’s intense commitment to his training. Bob remarked that in five years of training, Phelps probably didn’t miss even one workout. Now that’s commitment!
Can you even fathom never missing a workout in five years? That’s 260 weeks, or 1820 days! And in order to become an Olympian, an individual would most likely need to train six days out of the week, if not seven. What an inspirational life to live…
Do you personally know of someone in your life is that committed to…well…anything? I know of one prominent historical figure that was even more committed to a cause than Michael Phelps. Who, you ask? Jesus Christ. Check it out:
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him. (John 3:16 – The Message).
God had a lofty goal (to span the chasm of sin). So he came to earth as a baby born of a woman, fully human yet fully God, walked the very earth we walk every day, was tempted in every way, loved those around him, experienced pain and sorrow, was beaten bloody, died hanging on a cross crafted by those He loved, and then three days later rose again. Death could not hold him because he was so perfect! Christ believed in our cause—in mankind’s cause—so deeply that He chose to die so that we all might come to know him personally and spend eternity with Him.
As Christians, we should be choosing to live our lives in the shadow and power of Christ’s inspirational and empowering life here on earth. Like people take notice of Michael Phelps, others will take notice of Christ in us and desire to pursue excellence in their lives by Christ’s authority and example as well. We are all part of something much bigger than us and that is God’s mission – to train us to be more like Christ.
Use Michael Phelps’ amazing success to help you launch a conversation about Christ and his commitment to each of us. Here are some questions to help you get started:
- Ask your friends if they have been following Michael Phelps or any of the other Olympians this season.
- Ask your friends if they have ever been or desired to be as committed to the pursuit of excellence in any area of life the way Phelps has been committed to his goals in swimming?
- Ask your friends if they would consider Jesus Christ an inspiration and why. Listen, and then tell them why you feel that His life was a life of excellence. Use the passage of John 3:16 (above).
- Tell about your commitment to Christ because of His commitment to you. Ask if they would like to be a part of something great, something bigger than them. Would they like to commit to Christ today?
It seems so rare now-a-days to come across individuals with such passion, consistency, focus, and commitment as Michael Phelps. Take note, take heart and go out and make a difference in this hurting world by proclaiming Christ’s love with as much fervor and dedication as Phelps has shown the world in these past few weeks!
Jeannae Flageolle serves as a writer for Dare 2 Share Ministries International (D2S) in Arvada, Colorado, a ministry committed to energizing and equipping teenagers to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information about D2S, please visit www.dare2share.org.