Fortitude, Personal Development

Going for the Bronze Medal


The Winter Olympic Games is interesting whether you appreciate figure skating and curling or not. Have you been watching? There are so many great stories of people beating all odds to fulfill their Olympic dream. Hearing the athletes explain the sacrifices made and injuries overcome to be the very best at the one specific event for the Olympic games is inspiring.

For most athletes competing in the games, their dream is to compete at the highest level of their sport and they don’t really expect to win. For others though, the pressure to win gold is astronomical. Can you imagine having worked your entire life, literally, for one event – one race at a specific time and place and you know you must perform better than you’ve ever done before for a chance at gold? Your family, friends, and your entire country (it feels) are counting on you to win. Phew!

In a similar way though, we are all trying to win gold. We live in a world that covets, pursues, and praises achievement above pretty much everything else. Think about it. Everyone has the “gold medal” they must achieve. For some it’s financial freedom or being rich. For others it’s the perfect body, perfect mate, perfect house, perfect kids. Maybe it’s the dream job, dream experience, or dream retirement. Maybe it’s just having your way or being happy – whatever that means to you. For everyone, there is that thing. The personal gold medal. What’s yours?

In my personal study I’ve come to realize that all these typical “gold medals” we have for ourselves are ultimately unsatisfying. There are stories of Olympians who sell their medals, just as there are stories of people like you and me who work themselves sick to achieve their gold medal only to find out it wasn’t so great after all and they are left feeling discouraged and disappointed. Can you relate?

I think there is a better way. What if we went for the bronze medal – 3rd place, instead of gold? Try to follow me here. The pursuit of gold is very selfish. Yes, Olympians are racing for their country and maybe for a special cause or person, but ultimately it’s a selfish pursuit. All our “gold medal” pursuits are equally selfish. And they leave us wanting more. What if we didn’t live for ourselves and the “looking out for #1” and “it’s all about me” mindset? Gasp! How could we?!?

Ever heard of the I Am Second movement? It basically says that we should live for God, submitting ourselves to his purposes, his ways and by doing so we reap the benefits of living a fully satisfied life. Thousands of people including many celebrities are on board. They put themselves second instead of first. Silver instead of gold. If you are a Christian, this is the way we should live. God first, me second.

But we can take it a step further, which brings us to the point of this blog. By pursuing the bronze medal, 3rd place, we are saying God first, others second, then me. Ka-Pow!

Equation for you math wizards: Love God + Love Others = Fully Satisfied Life

Imagine if we applied this to our marriages… instead of an “I’m Number One” mindset, we chose to love our spouses with an “I am third” attitude… first and foremost comes our Savior, than you (my husband/my wife) whom I am called to joyfully serve, and then me. Oh, to be sure, there is a time and place for appropriate self-care, but more often than not, things are a bit out of balance in that department. #preachingtomyself

“Just as selfishness is a sure marriage killer, an attitude of service and sacrifice—the “I’m Third” philosophy—is an indisputable marriage builder.” –Dr. James Dobson

This is servant leadership, and it’s the best way to live. Amen? Can you imagine what marriage would be like if the heart’s desire of both partners was to joyfully serve the other? How might our work relationships improve? Dang, if everyone lived this way think what the Facebook news feed would look like!

Part of my personal journey is learning how to live this out. I’ve got a long way to go for sure, but I’ve been around enough to know my gold medals do not satisfy. “I’m Third” is unconventional, counter cultural, and radical – which is why I’m betting it works. Seems like this kind of mindset shift is just what the world needs right about now, don’t you think?

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