At the end of a hard practice or tough competition,...
Every athlete has made the choice to be challenged. The concept of sports literally made a game out of facing opposition. Whether running hurdles, fighting an opponent in the ring, attempting to accomplish a goal with guards or a wall of linemen in their wake, athletes crave facing obstacles in their field of play. Athletes expect resistance. They encounter it on offense or defense, pushing or pulling, forward or backward. They train for it; they live for it. Without an opponent, there is no competition; without opposition, there is no game. Without the trials on the court, gridiron, track or field, the entertainment industry of sport would not exist. Dare I say resistance makes sports fun.
When faced with resistance, the athlete will respond in one of the following ways: (1) Get pancaked, (2) dodge it, (3) stand firm against it, or (4) push back. Where dodging resistance can be a necessary strategy at times, it’s only when the athlete stands firm, faces the opposition head-on and pushes back that he actually grows stronger.
Coaches across sports programs use resistance such as sleds, parachutes and weights to train their athletes and prepare them for competition. They also teach their athletes the proper way to resist to keep the athletes both effective and healthy while they grow. Athletes learn to use the right stance and techniques for facing resistance without getting seriously hurt.
We embrace resistance in athletics because we know the benefits of it. It forces the body to push beyond its comfort zone. Muscles break down and when they build up again, they are larger, stronger, faster. The athlete is a better competitor for it.
Resistance is an inevitable part of life Beyond Athletics. We encounter it in every area as long as we are alive. Getting to work on time, competing to get ahead on the job, conflict at work or home, the difficult conversation that needs to happen, negative thoughts and emotions, even illness – it’s all resistance. Even though we know the benefits of standing toe-to-toe with resistance in athletics, we’re not so keen on embracing resistance off the playing field. Opposition can make life more difficult but, it also makes life a little more interesting. Challenges have the potential to make us stronger people and increase our capacity as we grow.
We all need a little eustress in our life– attempting something new, planning for a significant event, pursuing an endeavor or merely completing a task. Eustress is stress brought on by positive experiences and is a healthy part of our existence. As we take (or plan to take) these necessary progressive steps, various forms of resistance are naturally built in. Resistance might look like that one contact that you can never seem to get in touch with, that vendor who messed up your order again, that material that is not going to be ready on time, the website that got hacked, the meeting that has been pushed back, the desire that has been delayed indefinitely. We could even encounter resistance when offered a new challenging responsibility or an opportunity for promotion. Facing opposition in the form of our fears and thoughts of inadequacy means taking on the challenge and approaching with excellence the current responsibility (even if you don’t like it).
There are options when we encounter resistance Beyond Athletics. We could get run over by it–let it take us out and victimizes us. We could dodge it like a skilled basketball player shaking off the defense – even fly over it like a track-athlete over a hurdle. We could stand firm against it – perhaps we get knocked over, but we hold our position and maintain control and take the charge. Or we could push back and continue to gain ground. The right approach will vary depending on the situation, the game at hand and the overall strategy.
Get Pancaked. Getting runover by the opposition is never the option we want to take. We don’t want to belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed (see He 10:39).
All resistance helps to shape and mold us as people. We don’t need to shy away from it. We don’t have to shrink back or give up and allow resistance to run over us, and we cannot permit its presence to stop us from moving forward.
Dodge it. Some opposition is worth avoiding and some might be a signal that something needs to change.
We can actually set ourselves up for success if we just stay out of arenas that will ultimately hinder our progress. I love Jabez’s request recorded in 1 Chronicles 4:10, “Keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” In His lessons, Jesus taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” We do not need to engage every battle and we certainly do not need to create new obstacles for ourselves. Life is going to have more than enough barriers for you to cross than the entanglements you choose to invite.
Even in the battles that matter, there are times when it’s wise to stand down, be flexible and maneuver around resistance. Resistance could be telling you that something needs to change. It could be an opportunity to pivot, take another perspective and try something different. Don’t use up all your energy wining a battle and ultimately lose the war. Know when to step aside but not necessarily back down. Play the long game, preserve key relationships and live to fight another day.
I’m sure most would choose to avoid obstacles if we could –why bother dealing with challenges if you don’t have to. We often want to avoid resistance because we don’t like pain, don’t want to wait, loath delayed gratification, and so on. Avoiding challenges, however, can also be exhausting. It still requires thought and effort to plan just how you’re going to get out. It can feel as though you’re constantly running and hiding from the inevitable. Challenges that are never confronted tend to loom and remain a threat.
Stand firm against it. Choosing to stand means to stand your ground; it means you hold the line as an offensive lineman on a pass play. It may require you to take a hit, you could potentially lose ground, but you still have to hold firm—the specific strategy and goal matter. A basketball player on defense can make the strategic decision to take a charge. When a runner is coming into home plate in baseball, the catcher has to stand firm to tag the runner out to make the play. In that intentional collision, the catcher must hold his ground, maintain control of the ball, and make the tag. If not, the runner is safe, and the opposing team gets the run.
Standing firm in the face of resistance is not passive and it’s not pretty. It means to push back against resistance with the same amount of force not to let it move you. It can appear as weakness, but it truly requires strength and courage to be firm, choose to take a hit and not fight back. You could get knocked over, but the purpose is bigger than you.
Push back. There are times when you do need to push back with even more force than is given to you – a little more assertiveness is necessary. At times you need to take ground, gain momentum and effect change. On either side of the line, the goal is to gain ground and push back the opponent.
This tactic of pushing back the opposition has significance in many respects. It’s especially significant in our internal battles. It’s not enough to bury or take hits from our negative thoughts. We need to take charge of our thinking, explore where specific ideas originate from, weed them out, counteract them with the Truth, eject them, even bring them under the submission of Jesus Christ. Say “yes” to the promotion, go with your spirit and pursue your goals even when the people around you don’t believe in you, give your best efforts and put your best foot forward despite your insecurities –these are ways that you push back against resistance.
Face resistance right
Every athlete learns that they will meet resistance in their sport. They also learn how to safely and efficiently execute the different tactics for meeting resistance. There’s a proper way to clear a hurdle, hit, block, even take a hit. The goal is to take down your opponent without killing yourself in the process. What is the right way to face resistance in life Beyond Athletics?
Resistance is an unavoidable part of life. We are responsible for embracing it and learning how to move forward in spite of its existence. Expect resistance so that you are not caught off guard. (Ever see an athlete get hit from their blindside or while unprepared? Ouch.). And, hit it right. Invite God into every encounter. He will direct you when to be flexible and move with the opposition, when to stand firm and hold your ground and let Him work, and yes, when to push back against resistance. It doesn’t matter what situations we face; it does matter how we face them.
We don’t have to cower at the threat of resistance. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). When you find the defensive forces of life pushing up against your offense, use your resistance training: get your center of gravity, dig in, dig deep, lean in and drive forward. When you face opposition the right way – at God’s direction, you will grow. Resistance Makes You Stronger.
- What have you found helpful in your battles with resistance?
- What is one God-directed approach to resistance that you have found challenging to implement (perhaps it’s counterintuitive or countercultural in today’s environment)?
- What do you know about God and His relationship with you that might inspire you to approach this challenge His way?
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