This story appears in FCA Magazine’s March/April 2017 issue. Subscribe today!
What does devotion look like in your life? Or, more importantly, what exactly are you devoted to?
Most likely, you are devoted to the things, people or causes you feel passionate about. The word “devotion” conjures up thoughts of love, loyalty, enthusiasm, constancy, fidelity, commitment, allegiance, dedication, godliness and holiness. Think about all those words. They’re all great. But only when they’re related to something worthwhile. That’s the beauty of God’s craftsmanship in each of us and the ability He’s given us to freely devote ourselves to what we choose.
While discussing devotion with my wife, she clearly summed it up for me: “People end up doing what they want to do.” My dear wife is onto something, as that is the clearest definition I’ve heard on devotion. It’s our “Want To.”
Our daily deeds and discipline always reflect our “Want To.” As coaches, we use that phrase often with our athletes.
• You have to want to get stronger.
• You have to want to learn the game.
• You have to want to contribute to the team.
I’ve learned over the years that you seldom have to talk someone into devotion. Instead, it’s the opposite. The athlete or coach who relentlessly refuses to be talked out of a challenge is often the most devoted. They’ll press on no matter the weather, competition, score, odds, feelings or circumstances. Nothing will keep them from their “Want To.”
Each of us has the capacity to have “Want To.” It’s very response-oriented. In the Christian life, a true devotion to God centers on discovering just how much you’re loved by Him.
Consider this incredible “Want To” example tucked away in the Old Testament.
“And three of [David’s] thirty chief men went down and came about harvest time to David at the cave of Adullam, when a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem. And David said longingly, ‘Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!’ Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the LORD and said, ‘Far be it from me, O LORD, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?’ Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did.”
– 2 Samuel 23:13-17 (ESV)
Wow! I’d say risking your life to fetch some water for your leader is being quite devoted.
The problem was, David wasn’t serious about the water. He was merely reminiscing about the tasty water in his hometown of Bethlehem during a break in the war. Since the battle was in Bethlehem, David’s three assistants hopped enemy lines and risked their lives all to secure a cup of “Bethlehem water” for him. Now that’s devotion! That’s some “Want To!”
But what’s so remarkable about this story? The fact that earlier we read these “mighty” men weren’t so mighty at all.
First Samuel 22 reveals a time when these fearless soldiers were anything but that. They were a bunch of aimless men who were distressed, in debt and discontented. But David took these “nobodies” under his care and led and loved them, transforming them into the greatest, most devoted army in the world. As a result, these men loved David deeply, rooted in the realization that David loved them when no one else did. They didn’t have to consciously think about “Want To.” It just flowed out of their bloodstream because they knew they were so loved by David.
Newsflash for leaders, coaches, captains and parents! Our followers, players, teammates and children will run through the proverbial “brick wall” for you when—and only when—you show them that same kind of unconditional love and devotion. When you lay down your life for them like Christ did for us on the cross.
David loved and served the unlovable. In turn, they did the same for him. And in an even more powerful way, Jesus came and loved those who didn’t deserve it and ultimately laid down His life in the greatest act of devotion this world has ever seen: “…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” – Matthew 20:28 (ESV)
You and I are one of the many. The question is, do we realize what Jesus did for us when we were like these men in David’s cave, lost and without a Savior? Whenever we get our heads around our undeserved salvation in Christ, there will be an enormous overflow of devotion and “Want To” for Jesus and, consequently, for others in sports and the world around us.