God has gifted you. You train to achieve your best physical performance. You prepare mentally to be at the top of your game. But how do you strengthen your spirit? This devotional will guide you in bringing those elements together to become a complete competitor who impacts others for Christ.
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About the Author
Gwen Thielges is a blogger, Kindermusik educator, and worship leader. She and her husband have three sons, one daughter, and one daughter-in-law. Her sons are college athletes, her daughter is a high school athlete, her husband coaches high school basketball, and she is a loyal fan in the stands.
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All In For Him
Twenty-One Devotions for College Athletes: Strengthen Your Spirit and Become a Complete Competitor
By Gwen Thielges
CrossLink PublishingCopyright © 2016 Gwen Thielges
All rights reserved.
DAY 1 - PRAYER FOR THE BEGINNING OF THE SEASON
Dear Lord, I thank you that I am about to begin a season of college athletics. I have some expectations in my mind, but in all honesty ... I do not know how everything will pan out. I am about to begin a new chapter of unknowns. However, may I always remember that there are some things that I will always know: You are with me, You love me, and You have great plans for me. You are constant. You are an everlasting, eternal God in a world of instantaneous decisions and immediate gratification.
Lord, I want to do what I can do and leave the rest up to You! Help me in my desire to do that. I can control how hard I work, what kind of an attitude I have, and how coachable I am. After that, I have to find a way to allow the rest of the pieces to fall into place, and allow Romans 8:28 to come to fruition." "We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose."
I do not want to take for granted that I have been given the option to compete in a sport I love at a high level of competition. I do not want to take for granted that I get to be part of a team that is purposefully laboring together toward a shared goal. Many people would love to experience this; help me remember that when there are obstacles and difficulties. Help me to see that obstacles and difficulties are opportunities to see how You will guide me through them.
My prayer is that I will glorify You during this sports season, Lord. I pray that I will reflect Your nature no matter what I am faced with. Whether I am in the midst of a sports season of success or disappointment or a combination of the two, may I remember that my relationship with You is paramount. Nothing else is as important or fulfilling.
Help me to continue to be thankful for this precious life experience. May others see a grateful spirit in me, in my actions, and in my words.
Lord, I pray for this season to be one that will be remembered as a time of spiritual breakthrough in my life. My genuine desire is to become closer to You, Lord.
In Your holy name I pray, Amen.
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. (Psalm 91:11)
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)CHAPTER 2
DAY 2 - REDSHIRTS AND ROLE PLAYERS
Many college athletes go through a redshirt year at college. It is a year of putting forth much effort gaining speed and strength to become more prepared to compete at the college level.
It is a difficult year for various reasons, one of them being that many college players are accustomed to being a starter or even a star player in high school. Suddenly, they are just one of many stars waiting for their time to get an opportunity to shine.
Another reason "redshirting" is difficult is that they are expected to continue a strenuous training program without seemingly seeing the benefits that the other players experience.
Even though they are a part of the team, they are a unique part of the team. It takes an extra amount of perseverance and persistence to keep envisioning the future beyond that year in a positive light. Many players enter college knowing that they may not see the field until their third or fourth year.
I remember overhearing a conversation between two high school athletes, both starters on their successful basketball team. They were talking about how their team would have never had the season they had were it not for the scout squad at practice. They were very complimentary of the talent of their teammates and were grateful for the caliber of competition they provided at practice. They realized the all-out effort of the second string forced the starters to put in harder work, and therefore the entire team benefitted.
If you are a redshirt or a role player, you are going to receive reactions different from what the star players receive. It can be an exercise in humility. It can also be a time to reflect as to why you are playing college sports. If it is for the fame or the feeling of importance, then it may be time to rethink your motivation!
If you keep reminding yourself that you are competing for an Audience of One and that your wholehearted effort as a redshirt, role player, or as a star player — whatever the case may be — makes a positive difference to the entire makeup of the team, you will definitely be practicing and playing with a Christlike mindset.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
Dear Lord, every team is composed of players with different skill sets and contributions. Lord, I want to be ready physically and mentally to fill any role that the coaches ask me to. Help me be prepared to be an asset to the team; to assist in functioning at its highest potential no matter what contribution I am expected to make. In Your holy name I pray, Amen.CHAPTER 3
DAY 3 - THINK ON THESE THINGS
Have you ever spent time with a teammate who seemingly spends most of their time complaining? Maybe the negative comments are about coaches, other teammates, or maybe they are about circumstances. Regardless of the topic, negative thinking that turns into negative conversation can certainly bring down the morale of the team.
Many of us have been influenced by that type of team member before, and if we are not cautious and aware of what is happening, we can become that type of person as well.
Given the option of listening to a stream of negative comments or inspiration, my unscientific guess is that 99 percent of people would choose the positive teammates! We should certainly strive to be the kind of teammate that others want to spend time with, as they know that they will be encouraged and enthused rather than discouraged and disheartened!
What we say is an overflow of what is in our heart. Therefore, what we spend our time concentrating on should definitely be the positives in our lives. Philippians 4:8 sums it up quite well: "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things."
The Bible says that we have been given self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7), that our mind can be renewed (Romans 12:2), and that we can have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). None of these promises should be taken lightly. They are real, and they are ours to accept. When we use excuses such as, "I can't control my thoughts," or "I just can't stop thinking about that," we are actually doubting the power of God to help us in our thought life. God desires to help us in every aspect of our lives!
Be the teammate that brings the mood in the locker room or the playing field back up with positive words that stem from positive thoughts.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
Dear Lord, I pray that You will help me think on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable. I truly desire to have the "mind of Christ." I know that You can help me and that You want to help me think on what is excellent and praiseworthy. Thank You, Lord, for being concerned about everything in my life, including what I spend my time thinking about. May I realize just how much that matters and how much it affects me and others around me. In Your holy name I pray, Amen.CHAPTER 4
DAY 4 - BODY LANGUAGE
Since my husband is a coach, I have often heard him talk about the body language of the players on his team and on other teams as well. He notices when shoulders slump and heads hang. These are not the actions of a winning player on a winning team!
We have all seen it before: one team goes on a scoring run, and the other team is seemingly doing all they can do to prevent it from getting out of hand. At first, they stay motivated and attempt to encourage each other with high-fives and pats on the back. However, as the hole gets deeper and a realization that defeat may be on the horizon takes hold, body language changes. Eyes look downward in self-defeat or eyes roll as the blame is placed on teammates.
A point guard who throws his hands up because a post just missed his no-look pass makes the game about him. It is a "Look at ME — my teammates have let me down" type of attitude that tries to elicit pity from the fans. Even a player who does not blame others but instead looks down in shame after she misses a block makes the game about her.
Teammates who continue to nod, high-five, pump fists, and keep their heads up are often crowd favorites. Their enthusiasm is contagious. As a fan, I can attest to the fact that seeing players who encourage each other can sway my allegiance from one team to the other.
Sharp words said to each other in the heat of competition cannot necessarily be heard from the bleachers, but the unspoken language communicated by physical actions speaks loudly and oh-so-clearly!
Be the player that your teammates can depend on to carry him or herself in a positive and uplifting manner. Be the player that your coaches can rely upon to look them in the eyes with respect even when you might disagree with their game plan or the fact that you are being sternly reminded that you did not do your job on the field.
Be the player that points others to Jesus.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:31)
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2)
Dear Lord, You have blessed me with the opportunity to play college sports for Your glory. May my body language toward my teammates, coaches, and opponents display that I know Who You truly are. May Your humility and love be seen in my actions toward others. In Your holy name I pray, Amen.CHAPTER 5
DAY 5 - RESPECTING AUTHORITY
In typical families, young children are taught to respect authority. Parents teach their children to obey them. Children are told to listen to their teachers and to behave in class. As we get older, conventional wisdom tells us we should be listening to our elders and respecting the advice of those who have already been through what we have not yet gone through. Although it can be argued that respect for authority is on the decline in some situations, it is still thought of as the norm.
As a college athlete, how do you rate yourself in the "showing respect for authority" department? Most likely you follow the training rules, you make it to practice on time, and you have high regard for your coaches' knowledge of the game. But ... how about when coaches favor less-talented players than you? How about when coaches do not seem to reward your effort? How about when trainers give more "attaboys" and "attagirls" to players who do not work as hard as or put in as much time as you? How about when officials clearly make the wrong call? How about when officials seemingly target you?
Have you ever been in any of those situations and wondered how you can be expected to show respect to authority figures who have done something that caused you to lose some of the respect you had for them in the first place?
One important step is to remind yourself of the enormous responsibility that coaches, trainers, and officials have. Remember that they are dealing with more than just your situation. Coaches and trainers are striving to build a strong program made up of many different skill sets, personalities, and talents. An official's job is trying to call an unbiased game in front of biased crowd members. Stepping back and seeing things from their perspective may prove that they do, in fact, deserve more respect than you previously thought!
However, there will be times when you have to make a choice to be respectful even if you do not feel like it! It is a sign of class and maturity when you put personal opinions aside and respond in a levelheaded, gracious manner toward authority figures whom you disagree with. Pray that God will give you the ability to see the situation in an unbiased way and to show respect at all times.
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. (Romans 12:10)
In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness. (Titus 2:7)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)
Dear Lord, help me to respect all those in authority over me. I ask You to give me the desire to conduct myself in a Christlike manner whether I am in complete agreement or total disagreement with my coaches, trainers, officials, and all other authority figures. May I be a Godly example. In Your holy name I pray, Amen.CHAPTER 6
DAY 6 - MAKE IT OR BRING IT ... A NEW LEVEL
Many thanks to my husband, Darren, for writing this guest devotional. He was a college athlete, and he has been a high school coach for many years.
As a college athlete, it is safe to say that you accomplished many things up to this point. You worked hard to be the leader of your high school team. Your hard work earned the respect and admiration of your coaches, teammates, and community. You were probably courted by college coaches and your opposition knew who you were!
Now after all the tough practices, time commitment, workouts, games, and long bus rides ... somehow, high school is over and you are in college. It is a time to reflect.
After reflecting, a moment will come when you are forced to look at what will be; the moment when you have moved past the ending point and have reached a new starting point. How will people like me? How will I achieve status? More questions than answers fill your mind and most center around: "How can I fit in?"
Many possible answers will be offered as soon as you set foot on campus. Most solutions will present themselves as: You will make it if you just ________. Any answer in this blank is a response to an already established normal. But what if you want to be better than normal? What if there is the possibility for more than is already there? What if you want the best?
Maybe a better question to answer is: "What can I bring to this campus?"
You see, the very gifts that God placed in you to be seen and noticed in high school are the same gifts you can bring to your college. God did His part. Give of yourself rather than getting for yourself. If your focus is on getting what you deserve, what compromises and shortcuts will you be willing to make and take to put yourself in that position? If you instead give of yourself, you are bringing something that positively influences others around you and enhances the existing culture. The focus isn't on an end — it is on the process.
By bringing it, in contrast to making it, you will:
1. Be proactive rather than reactive.
2. Be encouraging rather than discouraging.
3. Be positive rather than negative.
4. Be adding to rather than taking from.
5. Be a team rather than an individual.
When your ultimate goal is "making it," the temptation to take others down presents itself as an option. When your goal is "bringing it," you elevate yourself and others to be the best. By bringing it, you can be successful every day regardless of the score of the game. Every day there will be new challenges, and the reward is being your best and your team being the best without having to bring someone else down.
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Luke 6:38)
For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you. (Psalm 84:11–12)
Dear Lord, help me to use the gifts You have given me for Your glory. May I not be focused on "making it" but instead on "bringing it." I know You have a plan for me to contribute to the team in the best way possible in order to bring You honor. In Your holy name I pray, Amen.
Excerpted from All In For Him by Gwen Thielges. Copyright © 2016 Gwen Thielges. Excerpted by permission of CrossLink Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsDay 1 - Prayer for the Beginning of the Season,
Day 2 - Redshirts and Role Players,
Day 3 - Think on These Things,
Day 4 - Body Language,
Day 5 - Respecting Authority,
Day 6 - Make It or Bring It ... a New Level,
Day 7 - Prayer for Coaches,
Day 8 - Humility and Godly Confidence,
Day 9 - Sacrifice,
Day 10 - Being a Role Model,
Day 11 - The Final Play,
Day 12 - Internet/Social Media Part 1,
Day 13 - Internet/Social Media Part 2,
Day 14 - When You Are the Underdog,
Day 15 - Prayer Before the Big Game,
Day 16 - Prayer for Teammates,
Day 17 - Leading and Following,
Day 18 - Fourth Quarter,
Day 19 - Winning with Grace,
Day 20 - I Don't Get It,
Day 21 - Off-Season Work,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was quite impressed with this devotional. Gwen encourages college athletes to put God first, to be all they can be for Him, to shine - but not in their own power - in His, both on and off the field. I looked into this book for my grandson who loves sports and will soon be going to college. Although, he is still completing a couple of high school years, I think this devotional will be helpful to prepare him for sport participation in college. The devotionals were short and to the point, one to two pages, pretty easy to comprehend, yet challenging enough for an older teen. They included great advice, encouragement, Scriptures to back up what was being taught, and a prayer. There is tons of great information. I recommend this book for any high school and college athlete intent on being a great teammate, Christian, and striving to become all God wants in the area of sports. It could likely be read by both male and female audiences. I received a free copy of this book courtesy of Book Crash. I was not asked to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own.
Gwen Thielges challenges athletes with authority in All in for Him: Twenty-One Devotions for College Athletes. She’s lived a life around competitive sports and knows the need for Christian principles that encourage young men and women athletes. Gwen shares in these quick-read sections the importance of working as a team—but reminds the reader that Christ ultimately makes the calls. She reminds the reader: how to keep their focus; the value of respect; gracious participation, and accepting The Coach’s authority. All in for Him should accompany every college sports playbook.