Proverbs 4:7a “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.”
What separates successful athletes from unsuccessful ones? That first begs the subjective question: “what is success”? Many people would define “success” for athletes as making it professionally, or winning Olympic medals. However, my subjective definition of success includes longevity, joy, and a well-rounded life. Personally, I don’t consider an athlete successful if their choices (or the choices of their support team) lead to only a brief peak (a flash in the pan). I also don’t consider them successful if they find no joy in their sport. Nor do I consider it a success if they have no balance in their life. If they “succeed” at the sport of their choice, but destroy their family or lose their friends, then what is the value of their money or medals?
Unfortunately, I have found that the negative situations described above are very common with athletes. Why is that? I’d suggest that there is a significant lack of wisdom in the athletic world today. There is often significant talent, and even intelligence and knowledge, but very little godly wisdom.
A good friend of mine, John A. Guderian, recently published a book called: The Proverbs Management Handbook[i]. While intended as a book for business managers, this resource has significant value to every person, and certainly every Christian. The book lists topics such as: strategy, benefits of righteousness, leadership, career planning, diligence, conflict management, self improvement, communication and many more, and then quotes multiple proverbs of the Bible which give clear guidance in each of these areas.
Some time ago another friend pointed out that there are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs, which generally works out so that he could read one chapter each day and make it through Proverbs every month. He said that these daily readings have saved him from much heartache and brought him much fruit in his life. Having met many Christians, I have found that those who study and embrace the Proverbs, live far more victorious lives than those who do not embrace wisdom. Proverbs 4:7 says that: “the beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” While it is by grace that we are saved and not works (Ephesians 2: 8-9), we have a choice to just struggle through life with significant pain, or we can choose to adopt the lessons from God, communicated through the Holy Spirit to King Solomon (identified as the wisest man to ever live – 1 Kings 3:12). I am not suggesting you will live a pain-free life, in fact I can guarantee you will have much pain, but unlike pain caused by our own foolishness, when we live a life led by godly wisdom, this pain will be coupled with supernatural peace (Philippians 4:7).
Whether you are a young or mature athlete, a coach or a parent, I advise you to embrace the wisdom of the Proverbs. You can save yourself much heartache and you can instead enjoy the blessings that flow from living a life of wisdom. Proverbs 2:7 says: “He stores up sound wisdom for the upright. He is a shield to those who walk in integrity”. When I teach at Bible studies I often confess that I feel like I have an unfair advantage over “the world” in business and even in life. As I have embraced the wisdom from Proverbs, I have seen God bless business transactions and my family. While intelligence and knowledge are beneficial and should be pursued, if you want to lead a life that is pleasing to God, seek out wisdom. “Aquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away from the words of my mouth.” Proverbs 4:3-5.
[i] The Proverbs Management Handbook. Guderian, John A.. Waterloo Publishing, 2017.