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What does it take to be a champion?

On Feb. 7, the Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers 24-10 in front of a capacity crowd, and 51 percent of television-equipped households tuned into this year’s Super Bowl. As I watched the two contenders battle for the title of champion and then watched the Broncos emerge as the winner, I thought about what it takes to be a champion and what type of champion we would like to be. According to Webster’s New World College Dictionary, there are two different definitions of a champion. The first definition is “a person who fights for another or a cause, a defender, a protector, a supporter as a champion of the oppressed.” The other defines a champion as “a winner of first place or a prize in a competition, excelling over all others.” Which one, if any, are we? Can we be both?

Super Bowl Sundays have always been special to my wife Bodi and me, and the 2016 Super Bowl Sunday was extra special. Earlier that morning, I received an email from my friend and New York Times bestselling author Susan Mustafa containing the first of 12 amazing stories we are writing for a book, titled “Rock Bottom and Back,” which will also include a film and TV pilot with six of the 12 folks in the book. In this book and film, our champions are folks who have gone to rock bottom and back and are now fighting for others and a cause. This particular story was about Billy “The Biker” Rivers who had lived a life of crime, addiction and prison and is now a happily married entrepreneur and chaplain for the Christian Motorcycle Club in New Orleans. As I read the amazing story and watched others being filmed who had gone from desperation to inspiration, I couldn’t help but think about all the lives these 12 stories can change, and I wished we could be showing our film during the Super Bowl to a packed crowd and the 111 million folks watching on TV.

Super Bowl Sunday got even better when my wife Bodi, her mom and I went to church and heard one of the best sermons about our true champion in heaven and His champions on earth. The sermon, titled “Living Like A Champion — Winning The Super Bowl of Life,” was given by our youth minister Rich Mayfield at Parkview Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Below are a few of the comments and tips from Brother Rich’s sermon I believe many of us will remember long after we forget who played in the 2016 Super Bowl.

Brother Rich began with putting the title of his sermon, “Living Like A Champion,” on the giant screens behind him along with a quote from Romans 8:31: “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Like every Sunday and every time I’ve heard or watched a sermon or powerful speaker in the past few decades, I pulled out one of my journals and took notes so I could share these nuggets of wisdom with those I love and care about. Some of the best “Earl’s Pearls” and words of wisdom I have shared with my family, friends, BIC Magazine readers and in our nine books over the years have come from sermons. They’ve also come from listening, taking notes and conducting interviews with others who are champions in the game of life.

Here are some of the tips Brother Rich shared with us:

Being a champion

  1. Know Our Coach — Those of us who have played sports or worked in successful businesses know a winning and losing coach. With God as our coach, we can go from challengers to champions, and the same is true with having a godly father and mother in our homes and a godly person as our supervisor or co-worker.
  2. Know Our Playbook — Just as a great sports team has a great playbook and a great company has an excellent employee manual, the playbook for Christians is the Bible. But having a great playbook is worthless if we don’t invest the time to study it and master the plays.
  3. Know Our Positions — Some of us will never be great quarterbacks, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be great linemen, defensive backs, kickers or even great cheerleaders. The key to winning a championship is to master our own positions and be great teammates for everyone else. We don’t all have to be the stars to have a championship team. This is also the way it is in our families, churches, businesses and communities. Think of it like a body. The heart can’t digest food; that’s the job of the stomach. If we think of ourselves as part of the body of Christ with him as our coach, all we need to do is strive to be good Christians in our thoughts, words and especially in our actions. At this year’s Super Bowl, Denver Broncos’ linebacker Von Miller was selected as the MVP. Let us all strive to be among the MVPs at our churches, homes, workplaces and in our communities.

Live like we are invincible

  1. With Jesus in our life, we are more than OK. Brother Rich stressed the key word here is “in,” not “besides,” “close by” or “near.” He also said there is no real championship in life without Christ in us. When we have Christ in us, we can face opposition, sin, sickness and adversity.
  2. With God in us, we can go from rock bottom to rock solid in our faith, peace, happiness and success. I, like many others, have found that to be true in my own spiritual, personal and professional life.
  3. With God in us, we will have our names carved in the book of life and in heaven. Come rain or shine, sickness or health, our places are secure.

Live like we’ve been there before

  1. Don’t be surprised when great things happen because God promised they would.
  2. We don’t have to jump off sides or act crazy when we make great plays or score touchdowns.
  3. Coaches call it savvy; I call it the inner smile.
  4. We can be confident without being conceited.
  5. We can be assured without being arrogant.
  6. Never look down on another person, but look at him or her with love like our heavenly father looks at us.

Lastly, a real champion looks at the Super Bowl like just another game. And a real champion in life looks at every day as another great day for sharing God’s message of love to our world.

Have a great day, and may God bless you, your family and your endeavors.

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