Allow me to to bask a few moments in the afterglow of Seattle’s first men’s professional sports championship in thirty-eight years.
Seattle Seahawks 43 – Denver Broncos 8.
I’ve gone full circle in sports enthusiasm in my lifetime. In my younger years, sports was an idol that I lived, slept, dreamt and loved far too much. After I became a disciple of Jesus, I ran to the other extreme and threw away all my athletic trophies and scrapbooks in a burst of religious zeal.
A few years back, God brought me to a place of wiser moderation. Jesus is the supreme love of my life and nothing takes His place in time, thought, commitment and passion. I can also enjoy watching the occasional sports contest with interest and enjoyment.
Superbowl 48–the most watched TV broadcast in American history–stimulated that kind of interest and joy. But it goes much deeper for me.
What can we learn from the World Champion Seattle Seahawks?
What We Can Learn from the Seahawks
1. Don’t believe the doubters. Seattle was recognized as a good team in 2013, and for much of the year stood at the top of the NFL Power Rankings. In December, their offense struggled and some analysts began to doubt their ability to go the distance.
Bookmakers made them underdogs in the Superbowl against the Broncos and their legendary quarterback, Peyton Manning. Most of the lead-up to the game appeared to be a coronation of the highly respected quarterback. Certainly Manning would cruise to victory and be hailed as the greatest NFL quarterback of all time.
Instead, the Seahawks defense refused to believe the headlines and shut him and the Broncos down.
We need to learn from them and suppress the satanic and human voices around us that tell us we’re not good enough. Don’t accept the doubts. Do your very best and leave the results to God, whether you’re a student, secretary, soldier, factory worker, CEO, or NFL quarterback. Put your trust in the One Who Can.
2. Faith has its rewards and blessings. Many of the Seahawks players profess faith in Christ and have put their trust in God to save them from their sins. That’s why you hear them “thank God” when they’re interviewed and point their hands toward heaven after touchdowns.
The Making of a Champion shares the faith-stories of a number of Seahawk players and coaches and openly invites the audience to get involved in a local church. Jesus is Bigger Than The Superbowl is an interview with Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll that reveals some Seahawks player’s supreme priority.
Faith in Jesus not only restores us to relationship with God, but brings many blessings to our lives. In fact, when you hear various Seahawks say to the cameras that they are “blessed” by what they’re doing, you’re listening to a code word that means that Jesus has given them strength, talents, and gifts in life that they know come from Him.
Every good gift comes from God (James 1:17). Faith brings inner hope, confidence, strong friendships, better marriages, comfort in sorrow and many other “blessings.”
Let the Seahawks’ players inspire you to live by faith.
3. Defense wins. It is an axiom in sports–that great defenses beat great offenses. The Seahawks/Broncos matchup was a test of this theory as Seattle possessed the number one defense in the NFL and the Broncos sported a record-setting number one offense.
Yet, many pundits chose the Broncos. Then the game began and the Seattle defense absolutely dominated up the Bronco Express. It wasn’t even close. After a couple quarters, it looked like the Bronco players were “hearing footsteps” every time they went for a catch. The defense won the day.
Defense is important in our lives too. God is our Rock–we must take shelter in Him. We need to put on the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness and take up the shield of faith daily against the attacks of the demonic world (Ephesians 6:13-17).
We, too, will conquer if we play good defense.
4. Character counts. This year’s Seattle Seahawks (with the exermption of the Richard Sherman rant) exemplified great character on and off the field.
Character is the sum total of your moral traits and include the attributes of love (1 Corinthians 13), the nine fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23), and many other godly qualities. 2 Peter 1:5-7 lists seven character traits including virtue, knowledge, self control, perseverance, godliness, kindness and love.
Athletes who exhibit many of these qualities make tremendous role models for kids and people of all ages because of their notoriety. Let’s pray for professional athletes in all the fields of sport that they would be people whose lives are worthy of imitation.
5. Work hard. Seahawk quarterback Russell Wilson, at the ripe old age of 25, has already become famous for the saying “The separation is in the preparation.” Translation? Those who work diligently to be their best will distinguish themselves from those around them. Hard work is one of the primary tickets to success in a fallen world where we’re all competing for survival.
If you work hard like the Seahawks at what God has called you to do, you will also experience many triumphs. The Bible encourages us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving ” (Colossians 3:23,24).
Let’s work hard for Jesus.
6. Use the talent God has given you. Sometimes when elite athletes talk about their skills (as when speaking to an audience of young people), they emphasize “going for your dreams, aiming for the top.” There’s nothing wrong with aiming high, but it comes with a caveat: it must be within the framework of the talent or gifts God has given you.
A wise and honest athlete once said, “You can’t put in what God has left out.” We must have a sober assessment of our talents, both athletically and professionally and then strive to do the best with what God has given us.
We all have special talents, aptitudes, motivations and desires. Find your own, be realistic about God has given you, and use those talents to the best of your ability. When you do, your successes will be just as satisfying as athletes winning the Superbowl.
7. Give God the glory. I loved it on Sunday night when numerous Seahawk players began their after-game interviews with a quick and hearty nod to God. The same thing took place at the NFL Honors banquet the night before. Almost every player chosen for a prestigious award began his acceptance speech with a heart-felt “I thank to God” before going on to mention parents, coaches, and others.
That little phrase tells you alot about a person. They know who their source is. They are grateful to the Person who really gets credit for their ability.
In the famous Chariots of Fire movie, American sprinter Jackson Schultz hands Eric Liddell (The Flying Scot) a folded note before he runs one of the biggest races of his life. It reads, “He who honors Me, him will I honor” (1 Samuel 2:30).
When we give glory to God, He turns around and honors us in multitudes of ways. Be sure to give God the glory for the accomplishments and blessings of your own life.
8. Aim, high and shoot long. Russell Wilson told many audiences this week that he went to last year’s Superbowl as a spectator to learn about how to get there. Then he and the other Seahawks set their bar high to aim at winning the pinnacle prize of American football.
Over our lifetime we need to set goals for how God wants to use our lives. We need to “aim high” (don’t settle for the mediocre) and then “shoot long”–in other words, have the tenacity to look long range and never give up.
Are you aiming high in your life goals? Are you willing to pursue them for years to the glory of your Creator?
9. Be humble and give others the credit. This was one of the clearest testimonies of the Seahawk triumph. Player after player deflected the attention off of themselves to their other teammates. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was especially good at this–giving praise to all of his players and lifting up the value of “team” above individuals.
It was hard to choose the Superbowl 48 MVP. Russell Wilson, Kam Chancellor, Percy Harvin, or the entire Legion of Boom all qualified! The award went to unsung hero Malcolm Smith who quietly accepted the thanks–and then immediately gave credit to his teammates.
That’s the power of humility–team–thinking of others. It’s a beautiful thing to behold, and also gives glory to God.
10. Don’t give up–persevere to the end. The Seahawks played a very steady game in Superbowl 48 which proved they were the best football team in the NFL. But to get there, they had to survive many epic battles, close shaves–even a rally from twenty-one points behind in one game.
Life is lived best by those who endure and don’t give up. They get knocked down, they look like they’re out, but somehow they muster the strength (in God and his grace) to trudge to the finish line.
It’s one thing to persevere in an athletic contest. It’s even more important to do so in your marriage, family, spiritual and business life.
In summary, I’m grateful to the Seahawks for bringing Seattle a championship after nearly a forty year drought. But I’m even more excited about the faith, humility, teamwork, and other character qualities that allowed this team to reach the top of their trade.
Let’s learn from the Seahawks and do likewise. That will make each of us champions in the ultimate game of life.