Olympians in our midst

Over one billion people reportedly watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in London. Olympic organizers estimate that over four billion people will watch the games this year on television while tens of thousands will be there in-person. By every definition, the Olympic Games is the granddaddy of spectator sports, more than quadrupling the largest audience for the World Cup.

While many of us may be glued to our television sets to see the amazing athletic prowess on display, an unknown number of aspiring athletes will be watching even more intently, hoping to pick up a technique to emulate for their own success. Imagining their excitement to observe the best on display made me think of Olympians of another kind in my midst: those who live their lives with such excellence they deserve my attention as well.

I think about Dan, whose positive attitude always leaves me feeling better. Even when I’m feeling pretty good, his outlook on life lifts me higher. I always look forward to our visits. He’s that way with even with the most demanding of clients, too. He has a way of turning what may seem like a bad situation into a positive outcome, leaving everyone looking forward to working with him again.

I think about Dave. He’s one of the most generous people I know. He’s generous, not just materially—he literally would give you the shirt off his back—but generous in spirit as well. He makes you feel important in his gift of time and care. On more than one occasion, he’s held a lunch open for me just in case mine cancelled. I don’t think that way; though I want to.

I think about Chuck. He’s a walking definition of advocate, or at least, how I define it. Chuck has a deep-seated interest in others. Spend a few minutes with Chuck and he’ll not only ask you about what’s important to you, he’ll find out how he can help. Spend a few more minutes with him and you’ll see him do this with others, too.

I think about my wife Anna. Hardly a day goes by when I’m not in some way astonished by her gratitude. She practices gratitude over even the most trivial things. In my tribute post to her on our 30th anniversary I told a story about how grateful she was to have a working toilet. It concerns me at times that I am caught off-guard by her gratitude. I think to myself, “I should have thought that too.”

It’s one thing to ask, as the wristband does, “What would Jesus do?” But I often find that question too abstract. I often see Jesus best when His Spirit is being worked out in the lives of others. And so, I ask, “What would Dan do? Or Dave? Or Chuck? Or Anna? Or a host of other friends who I’m so blessed to witness their lives of faith. These are the Olympians in my midst; the ones I want to emulate.

With such Olympians in our midst, shouldn’t we watch and try to emulate their lives too? The Bible puts it this way: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8)

Share your thoughts. Who’s an Olympian in your midst? Someone who’s an example of excellence for you in some area?


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