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Pursuing Godly Excellence

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Pursuing Godly Excellence

By Jordan Heywood

“For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” – 1 Timothy 4:8

As a competitive hockey player, this sport engages me to some capacity about 11 months of the year. During the season, much time is filled with games, practices, workouts, travel and time with the guys. In the summer, we are striving to prepare our bodies for the rigors of the upcoming season. We’re often trying to put on muscle or lean out while maintaining peak fitness so that when we check-in for camp we can be at our absolute best.

Throughout my career, I’ve always searched for what will elevate me to the next level; what is the missing ingredient that to this point I have neglected. One summer it was power-skating; another summer it was nutrition; a different summer gaining or losing some weight and so on and so forth. At the end of each season I reflect on the past season and try and determine weaknesses I can improve on for the upcoming season and then I spend the next 4-6 months working towards those goals.

One morning before camp this past September I was sitting in my hotel room and I read 1 Timothy 4:8. It reads, “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” While I have read that verse many times, I felt like that morning something clicked for me. The key to my game is not found in my skating, conditioning or puck-handling ability. The key to my game is Godliness. Even as I type that, it sounds so cheesy so let me try and unpack it.

I’m not discouraging any of the aforementioned things because I have done all of them and will continue to do them as long as I play competitively. They all have value and truly can make a difference in my game.

But will they have an impact on my soul?

When I stand before the Lord and give an account of my life, will the fact that I “ate clean”, had an explosive backward to forward transition or squatted a new PB (personal best) be one of the first things I mention to God? Likely not.

On this morning, I feel like God spoke to me and said, “Jordan, Godliness is the key to your hockey career!”

Here are three reasons why I believe that’s the case:

  1. If I am pursuing Godliness first and foremost, I will be rooted in the truths of who God DECLARES me to be through Christ’s work on the cross - the beauty of this is it’s not based on how many goals, assists, fights or championships I amass. I believe this frees me up to be an even better player because I am not allowing family, coaches, teammates or fans to determine my value. If I can shed the weight this sport tries to burden me with, I will be able to enjoy hockey the way God intended me to and be able to pursue excellence with a zealous intensity not otherwise possible. John 10:10 talks about an abundant life through Jesus and being rooted in him is the key to unlocking that abundance.
  2. I will be prepared for what comes my way. Hockey is full of ups and downs in the form of making the team and being cut, game-winning goals and season-ending injuries and victories and defeats. If I am pursuing God, he will equip me for each of these scenarios. I am not saying that God is a lucky horse-shoe which will shield you from anything hard. In fact, I would even argue that times of suffering are some of the biggest blessings because it forces us to rely more heavily on him and He will meet us in our struggles.
  3. I can influence others. God didn’t give me my abilities for my own glory – he gave them to me for His glory and he is glorified when we use our abilities to influence others. As athletes, we have the ability to impact those around us because people look up to us. I have an opportunity to be teammates with 20+ guys who might not know any other Christians. I get to come in contact with fans who notice something different about me. I get to live out The Great Commission while playing a sport. How cool is that?!

There is a mental training company called “Train To Be Clutch” and they equip people to be the best they can. One thing I like so much about this group is it’s run by two christian guys and their principles are biblical even if people don’t realize it. One my of favorite quotes from them is, “When I put first things first, secondary things are suppressed, they actually increase.” I have this on my wall and it reminds me that by pursuing godliness first, I can whole-heartedly pursue excellence in all other areas because I will be pursuing them in an appropriate manner.

I desire excellence in everything I do. I want to be the best because that is when people will notice something different about me. I eagerly anticipate the day when I hear the words, “well done good and faithful servant.”

Discussion Questions

  1. Do you actively protect your heart from the temptations of this world by pursuing Godliness? If so, how? If not, why not?
  2. How can you discipline yourself to pursue Godliness each day?
  3. Do you have people around you who are also pursuing Godliness? If not, pray that God would provide people to encourage you.

Further Reading

  1. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
  2. Matthew 16:26
  3. Philippians 3:7-11

About the Author

Jordan has spent the last two seasons playing in Reading, Pennsylvania for the ECHL's Reading Royals. He graduated from Merrimack University in 2013 and was an influential leader with the Christian ministry, Athletes in Action, on that campus. In recent years, Jordan has made incredible impacts for Christ as a servant with FCA Hockey's Pro/College ministry. Jordan is well known for his leadership abilities, passion, and diligent work ethic. He is from Regina, Saskatchewan.

23 comments (Add your own)

1. Josi Hershey wrote:
I thought this devotion was just amazing, I always try to tell our boys who all play hockey that Putting God first in hockey is the best way to go about the game, reading this to them made them really realize what I ment. I also took a leap and forwarded this to about 25 hockey families at our rink that I think would enjoy reading it, I wanted to bless them on this Thanksgiving with these amazing words about pursuing Godliness.
Thanks 😊

Wed, November 25, 2015 @ 4:35 PM

2. Chelsa wrote:
This is awesome, Jordan. You are storing treasures in heaven! Thanks for sharing this journey and learning with whoever gets to read this. Much love!

Wed, November 25, 2015 @ 10:14 PM

3. Jody wrote:
Great words of wisdom from the Holy Spirit in you. The amazing thing is that this truth transcends sport and all categories of life and is the key to joy and freedom that God wants us to have (in Him). What a great witness it is to see how God has changed and shaped your life for His good work and glory. Continue on brother!

Thu, November 26, 2015 @ 9:15 PM

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