I love to compete and I have vivid memories of watching the 1976 Olympics which inspired my goal to one day compete in the Olympic Games. However, I have found that there are some things in life that are not a competition that must be won, but rather the need is to participate well. Let me share with you my journey that led to this realization and how it has impacted my life.
I grew up in Kirksville, MO in a family that was active in church. Going to church though didn’t make me a Christian any more than standing in a garage would make me a car. You see the problem was I always wanted to win and be right and I would do what it took to be sure I was “the winner”. Sometimes that surfaced as being disrespectful or using others for my own gain. However, when I was in middle school I realized that my heart and life was not acceptable to a holy God. I yielded my heart to God and prayed for Him to forgive me and for Jesus to come into my heart and make me a new person from the inside out. This resulted in an early change to the trajectory of my life that ended up becoming integrated with my love of competition. It has been through athletic competition that God has continued to teach me about myself and how to “win” in life so that God is glorified.
Initially, I participated in several sports early, but I realized if I was to attain my Olympic goal I’d have to focus. I had success throwing the discus / shot put and was big for my age, so I decided to focus on track and augment it with Olympic style weightlifting in the off-season. With this focus I went on to win the state discus title my Junior year and consistently finished among the top nationally in weightlifting. However, my Senior year I didn’t defend my state discus title. I had sought to honor God through my throwing, but realized that success was more about my heart, than whether I won or lost.
I had another issue regarding my Olympic dream – I had stopped growing my sophomore year. There aren’t too many Olympic throwers that are 6’ tall! But maybe I could make it as weightlifter where there are weight classes… I went to the University of Oklahoma to study engineering and be a part of their club weightlifting team. I trained hard and competed all around the US, but I found that many of the best were starting to use performance enhancing drugs – I wasn’t going to break the rules to win, nor jeopardize my long-term health for short-term gain. The Olympic dream began to fade. Yet, the OU track coach let me walk on and essentially be the training partner for a top throwing recruit. Training and competition became a venue for service and helping others realize their potential.
Fast forward to 2004, my family had got involved in Olympic style archery. My sons had all won national archery titles and I had qualified for the US Olympic Archery Team Trials – was this the way the Olympic dream would be realized? It wasn’t to be as I finished 56th at the US trials and got to watch our team in Athens (and at least I had an Athens Olympic Archery t-shirt!). So this is not exactly a Rocky story, but it was a great experience to be able to compete among the best in the US. Today I continue to compete in archery and am inspired when I go to tournaments and find people that are still competing well into their 70’s. I have found that my desire for competition was best articulated by 1924 Olympic gold medalist, Eric Liddell when he said, “God made me for a purpose, He made me fast – and when I run I feel His pleasure. “
I have learned over the years is that there is only one “competition” in life that matters and in this case there truly is the opportunity for everybody to win. It is the race that counts for eternity – a life lived in a relationship with Jesus Christ. As the apostle Paul said, “Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).
"I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure." Eric Liddell
Archery, Sailing, Hiking, Biking
Best advice I ever received
God gave you strengths for a reason - operate within them and don't focus on your weaknesses.
In college I drove
1964 Dodge with push button transmission
Bible, Handbook on Athletic Perfection
Chariots of Fire, The Bourne Trilogy, Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Nobody knows I
Co-authored an archery book / DVD with Larry Skinner, former US National Coach
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