The Christian Work Ethic

What do the following people have in common: Kevin Durant, Clayton  Kershaw, Andrew Short, Michael McDowell, Jesse Williams, Paul Azinger, Wiley  Peterson, Cindy Klassen, Claudio Taffarel, Matt Forte, and Asafa  Powell?   They are all world-class athletes, believers in Jesus  Christ and have worked extremely hard at their sport. And, because of their  God-given abilities and discipline in training, they have had fantastic results  and have been a positive role model to their peers and before the public.

Asafa Powell is  a Jamaican sprinter specializing in the 100 meters. He has broken the 10-second  barrier nearly 70 times!

Matt Forte is a  running back for the Chicago Bears in the NFL.

Claudio  Taffarel was a goal keeper for the Brazilian soccer team. He helped lead his  team to the World Cup title in 1994.

Cindy Klassen  is a long track speed skater from Canada and a five-time medalist in the Winter  Olympics. She currently holds the world record in the 1,000 meter, 1,500 meter,  and the 3,000 meter.

Born in  Pocatello, Idaho, Wiley Peterson is one of the top bull riders in the  world.  If you visit his website, you will read this statement: “As much as  I enjoy riding bulls, I am much more passionate about my relationship with Jesus  Christ.”  Also on his website is Mt.16:25: “For whoever wishes  to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall  find it.”

Paul Azinger is a professional golfer with 17 titles. He was in  the top ten golfers in the world for 300 weeks from 1988-1994. He also captained  America’s victorious Ryder cup in 2008. Paul’s faith in Christ has helped  him battle through cancer.

Jesse  Williams is one of the best high jumpers in the world. He set a Pac-10  record at 7′ 5.75″ in 2005, breaking an 18-year old mark. He spends the majority  of his time traveling and competing as well as regularly speaking or interacting  with groups to share his faith in Christ.

Michael  McDowell is a NASCAR driver who knows what it is like to be driving a car at  more than 200 miles per hour, losing control, hitting a wall, and then tumbling  eight times. He walked away from the wreck knowing it wasn’t the day God chose  for him to die. But a few years earlier, McDowell wasn’t prepared to face the  impending reality of his own mortality. He faced the unexpected death of a  friend (Ron Huber) which was a reality check for him. He totally committed his  life to Christ and has been growing in his faith since then.

Andrew Short is  a Motocross  superstar. An experience at a church youth camp helped him  realize that God is always there and His love is unconditional. Andrew began  riding bikes when he was five and dreamed of one day racing professionally.  Through a lot of hard work and perseverance, he got the chance after graduating  from high school and is now living his dream. He also discovered that there’s a  void in everybody’s life that only Jesus Christ can fill. He loves competing but  finds his real fulfillment in his relationship with Jesus Christ.

Clayton Kershaw  is now in his third season pitching for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is the  youngest pitcher (23 on March 19) to start in the season opener since Fernando  Valenzuela in 1983.  For new Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, naming Kershaw  the Opening Day starter was an easy decision. As Mattingly said, “He has earned  the respect–the person he is, the work he has done, the advancement he’s  making.” His strong work ethic and commitment to Christ are clearly visible to  all around him and make it easy to understand why Col. 3:23 is his favorite  verse: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for  the Lord, not for human masters.” The strong work ethic isn’t  overlooked by his coaches and teammates.

NBA superstar  Kevin Durant is the youngest player to lead the league in scoring, and he won a  world championship playing for the United States last summer, but he leads a  quiet life as he seeks to walk closer with His Lord.  Kevin’s  teammates say “he is very humble yet has become the leader of his team and a lot  of guys follow his lead. He helps them get better with his actions and the way  he is. It just makes guys want to be around him.”  For Kevin, the concept  of appreciating life is deeply rooted in reality. On April 30, 2005, Durant’s  AAU coach Charles Craig was murdered in a gang-related case of mistaken  identity. Ever since he has worn the number 35 on his jersey in honor of Craig  who was 35 years old at the time of his death. Kevin grasped the concept that  tomorrow is not promised so he’s going to be as good as he can be today and if  he’s given tomorrow he’ll be better yet. Durant’s uncanny ability to remain  grounded and levelheaded can be traced to family and a solid understanding of  his Christian faith that was cultivated while attending private school. Now he  relies on regular chapel attendance during the season, a spiritual coach, and  his teammates as a means to a stronger walk with the Lord. Kevin says, “I’ve  just got to be thankful to the Lord for the gifts He’s given me. My gift back to  Him is to always be humble and to always try to work as hard as I  can.”

None of these  professional athletes has it all together or is perfect, but they do  demonstrate the work ethic that should characterize believers in every walk of  life, for as Clayton Kershaw’s favorite verse challenges us: “Whatever  you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human  masters” (Col. 3:23).  For these athletes, it has obviously paid  off in terms of their accomplishments and the respect given them by their  coaches, fans and peers.  But even more important, their lives have brought  glory to the name of Jesus Christ. How about you. No matter what your vocation  or role in life, do you do it with all your heart as unto the Lord?  You  should? And if you receive any human recognition for your achievements, be sure  to give the glory to the Lord.

Forever  His,

Pastor Dave

P.S.  If you have an interest in  sports and the testimonies of Christian Athletes, I highly recommend that your  subscribe to Sport’s Spectrum magazine (1-866-821-2971; www.SportsSpectrum.com).

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About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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