Your biggest opponent isn’t your competition
You’re my biggest opponent, you know me I know you we know it
Whenever I fail, you’ve always been there to simply remind me I’ve blown it
You don’t see when I’m growing, you don’t see where I’m going
You only see in the moment, you know my mistakes you never let go it
“YOU CAN’T STOP ME!” blasted from the portable speaker I carry around with me in the weight room, on the football field, and on the track (Side note: my athletes love this thing. It’s bluetooth so I can control the volume at all times. It’s super durable and fun. Check it out here). Last week Andy Mineo’s You Can’t Stop Me was bumping from the speaker as my track and field team prepared for one of the final meets of the year: The District Championships.
The District Championship isn’t any regular meet. It’s the state qualifying meet. We spent all week talking about how Andy’s song and Ephesians 6:12 teach us that we can’t be stopped and that the real battle isn’t against our opponent it’s against Satan and the temptations he’s throwing at us.
Today’s Compete4Christ podcast is titled You Can’t Stop Me because Satan can’t stop me or you or any other believer in Christ.
Ephesians 6:12 reads, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Paul is encouraging the church in Ephesus to put on the full armor of God. Why? Because the true battle in the Christian life isn’t against our fellow man. Flesh and blood…that’s not our greatest opponent. The enemy is Satan who has been given power over this present darkness. His reign is temporary and exists under the sovereign hand of God, but it’s real and the war rages day after day.
In competition we often get so focused on beating the other team (which is sort of the point of competition, right?) that we forget that the other team isn’t our biggest opponent. Look back at to the first line of Andy’s song at the top of this post. When he says, “You’re my biggest opponent” he’s talking about Satan. He’s pointing out that when it comes to his career as a rapper his biggest opposition is Satan and the lies and temptations that Satan is throwing at him. Later on in that same verse he quotes the lies Satan is putting in his head.
You will never write a verse like Kendrick
Never be the rap or rock God from Hendrix
Top 10 alive you will never be mentioned
Why aim so high, won’t survive the trenches
Plus, you a Christian Andy, they will never listen Andy
Plus, where your pigment Andy, huh, you ain’t got skill you a gimmick Andy
Recognize the true battle
I don’t know about you, but there have been plenty of times in my life when Satan has attacked me in similar ways. Obviously, Satan doesn’t waste his time convincing me that I will never write a verse like Kendrick. He personalizes his attacks for me and wrestling through his attacks is the true battle in competition. Yes, there is a battle against your opponents, but the true battle, the one with eternal significance, is the one taking place between you and Satan. It’s a war and we often don’t even realize it’s going on.
Here are some of the lies he’s thrown my way as a football and track and field coach at a small Christian school in Lincoln, Nebraska.
- This isn’t big time sports. Why do you care so much?
- All of your Compete4Christ stuff has basically made you unhirable if you ever need a new job.
- Your team isn’t going to be that good this year so don’t waste too much time on them.
That’s just scratching the surface. The reality is that all of those thoughts are Satan using worldly thinking and half truths against me in order to keep me from being effective as God’s servant. Let’s think through each of them individually.
What is the “big time” and why do we seem so obsessed with it? Do coaches at “big time” programs love their athletes more? Do all of my problems go away if I make it big? Should I care less about doing a great job as a coach just because I’m not at the “big time”? The whole idea that some places are big time and others aren’t is a worldly concept. God has sovereignly ordained the existence of every football and track and field in the world. He is using all of them for His purposes and for the good of those who love Him. My job as the head football coach at Lincoln Christian is just as important as Nick Saban’s job at Alabama. Yes, we impact the world in two very different circumstances, but God has equally important plans for both of us.
There have been times when I have wondered if my being outspoken about my faith in Christ and applying that faith to competition would negatively impact me should I ever find myself needing to get a new job. There are two major problems with that way of thinking. First, it’s hard for me to imagine the series of events that would have to take place that would leave me looking for a new job. I love what I am doing at Lincoln Christian school. My wife and I love our church and our community of friends here in Lincoln. Who knows what God has in store for us, but we aren’t planning on leaving any time soon. Second, what kind of short sighted distrust in God does worrying about how Compete4Christ might make me unhirable at a public school demonstrate? Do I really believe that the best thing for me to do is to stop creating content for Compete4Christ so that I will be likely to get hired should I ever be in need of job? Of course not. That would demonstrate a complete lack of trust in God.
There have been years when preseason outlook for my team wasn’t too hot. Satan would love for me to only do my best on years when I think we have a chance to win a lot. Why? Because that would show the world I’m different than anyone else. It would demonstrate that I care mostly about winning just like the world does. Also, there have been plenty of times when I thought the team would struggle to win and we won a lot and vice-versa. You never know what is going to happen. If you remember last week’s post to the blog you’ll remember that it’s our job to respect the rep.
Why you can’t be stopped
Recognizing the true battle and beginning to wrestle with the temptations Satan is throwing at you is great, but it doesn’t explain the title of Andy’s song very well. Why can’t Satan stop you? Paul explains why Satan can’t stop you in his letter to Ephesus.
Before Paul establishes the fact that the true battle isn’t against flesh and blood, but against Satan he writes, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.” (Ephesians 6:10. I added the emphasis on “His.”) Paul is not only encouraging the church in Ephesus to wage war against Satan, but to do it on the strength of God’s might. This means that we are not called to overcome the temptations Satan is throwing our way on our own strength, but on the strength of God. He who dwells in us is stronger than he who tempts us.
In Ephesians 6:13 Paul tells the church to put on the full armor of God so that they are able to withstand Satan. Notice, he does not say so that they might withstand Satan, but so that they are able to withstand Satan. That’s huge. The armor of God cannot be defeated by Satan and it is by God’s power that we use His armor. Satan can’t stop us.
Satan and the scoreboard
On final thought on this topic. Satan wants you to be obsessed with the scoreboard and only the scoreboard. He wants you to find your value and worth in what the scoreboard says and nothing else. In other words, the biggest mistake we can make as Christian athletes and coaches is to allow whether or not we win or lose impact the way we think about competition and what we are called to do.
We are called to glorify God or make His infinite worth known in and through our competition. We can do that by focusing our efforts on continually improving and becoming more like Christ as we strive to get better everyday. We must always be getting better in all ways. The scoreboard, the win/loss record, the statistics, they don’t tell the whole story. They don’t measure the things we care about most as Christians. Do they provide some helpful insights? Yes, for sure, but they aren’t comprehensive and they cannot tell us whether or not we succeeded.
Remember, the Christian’s definition of success is to be able to look back on a workout, practice, game, season, or career and say, “I pursued my God-given potential and became more like Christ in the process.” The scoreboard and statistics certainly can help us know if we were successful, but they’re just pieces to the puzzle. They aren’t the whole puzzle.
On that note, check out the latest cover design for my next game plan/book. It’s all about why and how we should define success the way we do.
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