Sports can be part of someone’s spiritual journey. In the book Spiritual Steps on the Road to Success: Gaining the Goal Without Losing Your Soul , Linda Seger, ThD, discusses the call individuals receive to use their God-given talents. Then she talks about the challenges and growth that result from maintaining integrity and a relationship with God while moving toward success in a field.
One of my all-time favorite movie quotes is Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire saying,
I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.
A popular quote by author and motivational speaker Leo Buscaglia says something similar:
Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.
In Spiritual Steps on the Road to Success, Linda Seger discusses such a calling and how to meet the responsibilities and challenges that come with it. Linda uses numerous examples of successful individuals from different walks of life and considers the difficulties and rewards of combining faith and success. She shows that successful people can maintain a relationship with God.
One of her examples is actor Denzel Washington. In an excerpt from the book, she discusses Denzel Washington’s call and how he’s met it. She says:
Actor Denzel Washington recognizes that he has been called to do his work: ‘I understand that what I’ve been blessed to do is a part of God’s plan.’ He begins every film with a prayer he learned from his mother: ‘Heavenly Father, We come before thee, knee bent and body bowed, in the humblest way that we know how.’ Washington says, ‘I open the film with a prayer and end it with praise.’ When asked about his film, The Great Debaters, he said, ‘Every major decision I made, I made through prayer, about who I was picking to be in it, what it was I was trying to say, praying that the film was saying the right thing and that it would reach the right people … It’s how I start every day, and it’s how I end every day.’ (pp.41-42).
Linda Seger is an authority on screenwriting and a Quaker who lives her faith. The second part I know because I’m a member of the same Quaker Meeting as Linda. Linda interviewed my daughter, Chrissy, and her ice-dancer partner, Mark, while they were still competing. In the book interview, Chrissy talked about keeping God in her skating. She described the importance for her of focusing on “skating for God rather than on whether we win or lose.”
2006 World Ladies Figure Skating Champion Kimmie Meisner was recently interviewed for an article called “Faith and Figure Skating.” Not only did Kimmie say that her faith helped her get through difficult times in her skating career, but she described how her figure skating and faith are connected when she said,
I try to live my life the way God wants me to live it. By sharing my gift of skating, I become closer to God.
For many, it seems that success and faith can be connected. Although Linda’s book doesn’t emphasize one field more than another, it is a helpful guide for any athletes wondering how to follow God while following their sport.