“If anyone competes as an
athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to
the rules” (2 Tim. 2:5).
athletic achievements speak louder than the elusive Olympic gold medal. In fact
the gold medal often represents a lifetime of achievement in a particular
sport. At the 2000 summer games, with the whole world watching and the United
States national anthem playing in the background, current Dallas Seminary
student Brandon Slay stood on a raised platform in Sydney, Australia, and
received a gold medal for freestyle wrestling—a dream he’d had since he was
eight years old.
a wrestler, Brandon finds numerous similarities between training to compete and
striving to balance holiness and grace.
preparation on the highest level requires discipline through multiple training
sessions a day, and detailed study of your sport, yourself, and also your
opponent,” says Brandon, who is studying for a master’s degree in theology.
and raised in Amarillo, Texas, Brandon went on to graduate from the Wharton
School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He closed out his career
wrestling record with 141 wins and only four losses.
Christians we train by reading the Word daily, comparing ourselves to it, and
being aware of our opponent who wants us to fail,” Brandon says. “Christians
must have an eternal perspective and not let the daily, worldly struggles keep
he’s not studying, Brandon hosts wrestling clinics or speaks to youth,
churches, and companies across the country. Check out his ministry, Greater
Gold, at www.brandonslay.com.
“Let us run with endurance
the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1).
Klingler set himself apart for a lifetime of athletic competition early. In his
hometown of Houston he earned ten varsity letters at Stratford High School in
basketball, baseball, football, and track, as well as all-state quarterback
selections in his junior and senior years.
there he played quarterback for the University of Houston and was “this close”
to winning the most glamorous prize in all of college football—the Heisman
Trophy. His on-field accomplishments that filled the pages of the National
Collegiate Athletic Association record books were what nearly won him the
award. In one college game alone he threw for 716 yards, and during the 1990
season he tossed fifty-four touchdown passes, a mind-boggling eleven in one
who is now a Dallas Seminary PhD student, went on to play for the National
Football League from 1992 to 1997, first for the Cincinnati Bengals and then
for the Oakland Raiders. In many ways he believes that his past athletic
training mirrors working in ministry and living the Christian life as both an individual
and as a community of believers.
accountability, perseverance, and the realization that the ramifications of my
actions affect not only me but also my whole team are just a few of the
realities I learned while playing football,” David says. “If I didn’t prepare
or if I didn’t perform on game day, then not only I but my whole team suffered.
In my studies at Dallas Seminary I have come to realize that my life and
ministry affect me, and that my actions affect the body of Christ as a whole.”
“And everyone who competes
in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a
perishable wreath, but we an imperishable”
(1 Cor. 9:25, nasb).
addition to serving as captain of her Cedarville College basketball team,
Summer Sipes scored more than one thousand points in her storied career, earned
a spot on the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) All-Star
team, and was honored as a first-team selection at the 1996 National Tournament
for Christian Colleges.
a mother of two, Summer earned her Master of Arts degree in Christian Education
from Dallas Seminary in 2001, and served as junior high director at Frisco
Bible Church in Frisco, Texas, for several years. Summer sees many similarities
between athletic training and the believer’s daily walk with the Lord.
“Long hours are required for both, with a focus on
the goal, which continues to motivate you even when the going gets tough,”
Summer says, adding that the Christian life also is not a solo sport but a team
one hand you have a team of players, coaches, and trainers. On the other hand,
you have parents, spouses, church staff, and friends,” she says. “And all lend
themselves to equipping and spurring you on to do your best. Both take lots of
hard work and discipline.”
Summer says that her athletic training has conditioned her for being a mom in
first is an ability to play with my boys and to teach them fair play, to teach
them to play with their whole heart, and to teach them that Christ comes before
all of it,” she says. “The discipline and ability to stick to a game plan even
if the going gets tough is a benefit that has followed me into motherhood, as I
desire to train our boys to be righteous men of God. It is so hard sometimes
not to give in because the task of parenting seems overwhelming. But I believe
God continued preparing me for this time and place by allowing athletics and
the disciplines associated with it to be a part of my life.”
About the Contributors
Paul Pettit serves as Director of Placement and teaches in the departments of Spiritual Formation and Leadership and Pastoral Ministries. He and his wife, Pamela, and their five children live in Rockwall, Texas, where they are involved in their church and a local Christian school. Paul’s background includes experience as a sportscaster, author, and speaker. His books include Dynamic Dads: How to Be a Hero to Your Kids, Congratulations, You’ve Got ‘Tweens, Congratulations, You’re Gonna Be a Dad!, which he coauthored with his wife, and Foundations of Spiritual Formation. A graduate of the University of Kansas and the Moody Bible Institute’s Advanced Studies Program, Paul has also earned a Master of Theology degree and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.