An Olympic gold medal, the Stanley cup, the Vince Lombardi trophy, the Larry O’Brien trophy, the Commissioner’s trophy, each presented in recognition of unsurpassed excellence.
No athlete merely stumbles upon the finish line, whatever it may look like. And yet, physical skill—speed, agility and strength—is nothing without the mind behind it.
“Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.” So said one of the greatest coaches in the history of any sport, the man after which the Super Bowl trophy was named—Vince Lombardi.
Four-time Super Bowl Champion Ronnie Lot said, “If you can believe it, the mind can achieve it.” And Michael Jordan, who led his team to multiple NBA Championships and will forever be synonymous with the number 23 said, “You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.”
The sports world is littered with proverbial sayings such as these, attributing achievement to “wanting” or “expecting.” There is no reference to physical skill at all. Success starts with the mind.
Athletes understand the importance of sacrificing present temptations—fatty foods, sleeping in, staying up late, apathy in practice, wallowing in past losses—because they envision the larger goal of winning.
The Master’s University baseball team won the 2017 GSAC Tournament Championship and is on their way to the NAIA World Series in Idaho following a 9-game winning streak. All of the players are quoting Proverbs 6:4, “give your eyes no sleep, and your eyelids no slumber” on social media.
Coach Monte Brooks wanted the team throughout the year to be motivated internally, like the ant described in Proverbs 6 who naturally goes about her work, preparing for whatever may come. Throughout the season, many of the team’s starters faced serious injuries. “I could see the morale of the team was a bit dejected because their expectations [of the season] weren’t going to be met” Brooks said.
He consistently reminded the team, “We can’t control everything but we can control our efforts. We know everything we are supposed to do is honor the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. We need to work hard and let Him take care of everything else. By God’s grace the injured players took their time in rehab seriously, knowing they wanted to be in good shape and prepared when they came back --- they did not quit but asked, ‘how best do I serve the Lord and my team in this time?’”
The men’s golf team just won its third straight GSAC Conference Tournament Championship. Jason Semelsberger, TMU golf coach, said “The mental game is everything --- your attitude, focus and ability to concentrate. We make that an emphasis of the program, along with short game and fitness. Our focus needs to be on the Lord first and when that is the case everything else falls into line.”
This mindset permeates not only the Athletic Department at Master’s U, but also every aspect of campus. It is the reason Master’s has endured for 90 years and is now stronger than ever.
We are experiencing growth in applications and student enrollment, three of our athletic teams have been crowned conference tournament champions this season, adding men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams, developing exciting new academic programs, and are blessed with continued faithfulness from donors around the world who are committed to the training of young people – spiritually and academically - in the way only Master’s U provides. They see students who are sharp, educated, joyous, driven, and selflessly committed to do all things for the glory of God.
In a world that is rapidly changing and isolating Christians, telling us to compromise and give up, calling us bigoted and judgmental for believing in an ancient book, our students do not waiver. As the United States becomes more and more chaotic, deceived and lost, our students are able to sober-mindedly be courageous knowing we serve a gracious and sovereign God.
In this oak-filled canyon in Santa Clarita, TMU students are not isolated from the world. Instead, they are taught about “the way things really are, separating the truth from lies in a deceived and deceiving world” (Dr. John MacArthur, 90th Commencement Address).
In four years, our students learn the truths of Scripture, become equipped for life and build habits of discipline and endurance. They know what God expects of them and are prepared to face all the temporal distractions that could keep them from the larger goal. They know how to “run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Cor. 9: 25) and “lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set before [them]” (Heb. 12:1).
Master’s U students are like athletes in a coliseum, scrutinized by people who are waiting for them to compromise, to fall and not get up. But they have confidence that no matter the hurdles they must overcome and the exhaustion they will certainly face, Christ has provided all they need: strength (Phil. 4:13), endurance (Is. 40:29), guidance (Prov. 3:5), the power to be self-controlled and disciplined (2 Tim. 1:7), and a long-term goal (Col. 3). They can run and not grow weary.
Only in Christ can our students have confidence in the stadium of life, because they know they cannot lose and that their names can never be removed from the greatest hall of fame: the Book of Life. They train and run to toward their heavenly coach to hear Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”