This story appears in FCA Magazine’s July/August 2016 issue. Subscribe today!
• NCAA National Champion, 1-Meter & Platform Diving (2015)
• USA Diving 10-time Senior National Champion, 10-Meter Diving
“... God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” – James 4:6
Steele Johnson’s love of diving started as a boy at the local pool and has led him to platforms around the world. The Carmel, Indiana, native took a redshirt year to prepare for the Olympics, but he remained involved with FCA at Purdue to deepen his faith and connect with other like-minded athletes.
FCA: How have you grown during your time at Purdue?
SJ: Before I got to Purdue, I was stagnant. Now, I feel more personally connected with people here. Having [Marty Dittmar, Purdue FCA Chaplain] and FCA to go to every week has been really cool. I’ve had a lot more passion; having so many people here has made it easier to stay strong and grow in my faith.
The journey’s a constant up and down. There are moments where I’m on a mountaintop or in a valley, moments where I want to do devotions all day every day, and days He’s reaching to grab me closer to Him. I feel like I’m continuing to get more excited about Him every day.
FCA: How has God challenged you recently?
SJ: Last year was super challenging because it was my first year of college, trying to find where I fit in and have a mission field. There are so many temptations, so many desires for myself I want to fill, and it’s hard to die to myself and say no.
David Boudia (Team USA teammate) and I meet on a weekly basis and hold each other accountable. Looking at my life a year ago, I knew Christ but didn’t really form a relationship with Him. Now, it’s a daily growth, and I’m learning more and more each day.
FCA: How have you been approaching diving from both an Olympic and spiritual mindset?
SJ: This year I did many international competitions, and feel like I have more recovery time and rest, so I can give 100 percent to each meet and be more mentally prepared. I’m doing the best I can, not for myself but to please God. We’re called to be visible representations of the invisible Christ, and I feel like I’m able to do that through diving.
FCA: What has God been revealing to you?
SJ: It’s a constant process of learning it’s not about me. Diving is an individualistic sport, and you’re working on being the best you can be, so it’s easy to get caught up in the “me” mentality. I’m just someone who gets to live for God in God’s scheme of things, and I’m here to serve God and do whatever He wants me to do.
I want to be the best I can be, but I need to die to myself and live in excellence. I can do all the cool things in the world, but I need to give glory to God and focus on Him and not my own understanding.
FCA: What athletic and spiritual advice would you share with young athletes?
SJ: Don’t think about winning. Yes, you want to have goals, like I have of going to the Olympics and winning a medal; but if that’s the only thing I’m working for, then I’m just going to find a lot of anxiety and depression if it never happens. Have a main focus when you’re training, and don’t worry about other people. Go out there and give 100 percent—enjoy it.
Find new things about God that excite you, new things about your journey, new things in the Bible you can read every day. Get in a community of people. Let it take over your life, because the moment it actually does is when you see so much change.
FCA Staff Quote:
“I love it when athletes take their faith and testimony seriously and live all out for Jesus and His glory. Steele is that kind of guy! He is making an impact for the Kingdom now and will for years to come. He is a true co-laborer in FCA at Purdue.”
Chaplain, Purdue FCA
Photos courtesy of Purdue Athletic Communications