The Way of Champions

The Seattle Seahawks had a phenomenal year this past season winning the Super Bowl by the enormous margin of 43-8 against one of history’s best offenses the Denver Broncos. Now they have just freshly beat the Denver Broncos in a nail bitter of 26-20 in Over Time. An interesting statistic is that Russell Wilson is now 7-0 in winning against teams with the elite quarterbacks Peyton Manning (2-0), Aaron Rodgers (2-0), Drew Brees (2-0), and Tom Brady (1-0). There are many keys you can look to on what has helped make Seattle such a dominate team, but I would like to point out just a few keys specifically as it pertains to their quarterback Russell Wilson in leading the way of the Seahawks consistently being a championship team, as well as how these characteristics can be beneficial for you and your church.

The Legacy of a Father Goes a Long Way
Russell speaks much of his father. He is very fond of him and often speaks of lessons that his father taught him or encouraged him in. Speaking of his father he said, “He used to always tell me ‘Russ, why not you?’” With his dad’s encouragement he said that despite the potential disadvantage of being a short quarterback that he decided to play football to go against the odds. Russell has used his dad’s motivation to encourage his team to strive for excellence in the beginning of the season by incorporating his dad’s saying “Why not you Russ?” to “Why not us?” in regards to making it to the Super Bowl. 

His father always encouraged him to be the best he could be. Fathers play a crucial role in the development of their children. The legacy that they pass on can be positive or detrimental. Children need their fathers, they are their glory.

Proverbs 17:6 Children’s children are the crown of old men; And the glory of children are their fathers.

Fathers, make sure you are actively involved in your children’s lives. You can be the key to their success in life, their walk with God, as well as make an impact on them that will impact others. Russell’s father’s words impacted him so much that he helped inspire his team to a championship. Your harshness or simple absence can effect your children in ways that you regretfully did not intend.

Ephesians 6:4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

The Power of Encouragement
With the Seahawks you’ll often hear of the 12’s or the 12th Man. There are only 11 players per team on the field at any given time. To have any more would be a penalty call. So what do they mean when they refer to the 12th Man? They are referring to the fans. Now the fans don’t practice all week, rough it out in a game of football, or even make any money for being the 12th man. In fact, it costs them money to go to a game! So what is all the hurrah about? Even though they are not playing on the field with the 11 players, they do make an impact on the game! After this week 3 game of the 2014 season, Russell Wilson in his career is now 17-1 in winning games at home (CenturyLink Field of Seattle) during the regular season. While playing on the road his record is only 9-8. Still a winning record, but not nearly as dominating as when he has home field advantage. I expect his win/loss ratio on the road to continue to improve, but the stats clearly show that the 12th man, the fans of Seattle, do make a huge impact motivationally for the Seahawks to win games. They cheer them on enchantingly when they have possession of the ball. It helps the tempo and rhythm of the home team. It helps the players feel an extra boost of adrenaline to push to succeed at winning the game.

Can you imagine a NFL football game where there were no fans watching the game? The game would lose it’s impact. It is vital to a healthy church for people to show up and be there. It would be empty for a pastor to preach where no one showed up to church.  There have been times where right after an emphasis of outreach for a special day, we had many visiting guests but a significant amount of regulars would be absent. Obviously there are times when people are providentially unable to be there, but something I’ve noticed is that our impact as a church is often reduced in reaching out to visiting guests when our member’s attendance is lower than average. It is important to be in church when we are able, not only for ourselves, but also for others.

Hebrews 10:24–25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Not only is it crucial to faithfully attend a local bible preaching church, it is also important for people to be engaged and active in serving in the church. The work of the church is handicapped if it is solely left to the “professionals,” i.e. the pastor, deacons, etc. The truth is that every member is to be an active part of the work of the ministry. We all have various gifting abilities and different roles, but we should all be engaged in the local church that God has planted us at (1 Corinthians 12). Things are hindered when you’re not there and when you’re not involved in some aspect. We are not only supposed to assemble, we are to provoke one another unto love and to good works. The power of encouragement in the church body helps produce a vibrant and healthy church.

When the opponent team of the Seahawk’s has possession of the ball, the fans (12th Man) are extremely noisy to a science. They get as loud as they can to distract the opponent team’s concentration and to make it difficult for the team to hear the play calls. We can encourage the work of the Lord in the local church by aggressively resisting sin in our lives, not giving place to the devil, and loudly confronting those who would bring disunity to the church body through slander and gossip. The Bible says in Proverbs 25:23 “The north wind driveth away rain: So doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.” Discouraging others from speaking ill of one another, and by not giving an ear to those who seek to cause damage in the church, helps create an atmosphere of unity in the church which enables the church to be focused on the proclamation of the gospel to the lost and ministering to the saints. Any opponents ought to know who we are cheering for. 

Setting the Standard Higher for Yourself
Russell Wilson sets a high standard of excellence for himself. Some may think he goes overboard at times. But his standard of excellence is only going to help him, not hurt his reputation. The first time he did an interview at Wisconsin where he played college football, he asked to borrow a shirt with a collar from the equipment manager because he chooses to not do interviews in a T-shirt or shorts. This interview wasn’t even on camera I hear. Yet he set the standard higher for himself, even though it wasn’t necessary. Following an NFL game, he dresses in a suit and tie before giving any media sessions. Do all players do this? No. Is it necessary to? Not at all. Yet Russell Wilson, as a leader of the team of being the quarterback of the franchise, chooses to set the standard high for himself. The reputation of himself and his team matters to him.

In the Christian life, there are times where we may want to set the standard higher for ourselves to not bring reproach upon our name or the name of Christ, or simply to not cause a stumbling block to others. As a pastor, there are somethings that I choose not to participate in not because they are necessary sinful, but to be above reproach and avoid being a stumbling block to others. One example would be that I choose not to go to the Movie Theaters. Granted there is often a lot of filth, immorality, profanity, etc. on many of the movies. Those are things all Christians shouldn’t watch. However, there are occasions where the theater may be playing wholesome movies, yet I still don’t go. It’s not as if its a sin to watch a movie on a larger screen. I also wouldn’t expect other Christians to necessarily hold to the same standard I hold to. I don’t feel like having this standard is keeping me in any form of bondage, but a responsibility I freely hold to as a pastor. I could give a list of reasons why I don’t go, but one reason is simply to not be a stumbling block to others. To most it probably wouldn’t be a stumbling block. But I wouldn’t want to cause a situation in which a child asks their parents why they’re not allowed to go to the movies when their pastors goes. Though I may have liberty and not have to be held to another man’s conscience, as a pastor I am happy to strive to live blameless and give none occasion of stumbling. With leadership comes a greater responsibility. As a Christian we also want to make sure we’re looking out for one another.

1 Corinthians 8:8–13 But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
The Separation is in the Preparation
Russell Wilson is regularly heard saying there’s “No time to sleep.” Obviously he gets some sleep and the bible says in Ecclesiastes 5:12 “The sleep of a labouring man is sweet” but even a little too much sleep will hinder success. Proverbs 24:33–34 “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; And thy want as an armed man.” Russell means to emphasize the importance of preparation to be successful. He wakes before the sun rises. According to a report I read he gets to work at 5:30 AM, which is quite a bit earlier than when practice actually starts. He even prepared his mind the year before they won the Super Bowl, by attending the previous Super Bowl to get familiar with the atmosphere, the media hype, and the pressure that would come during such a big game. He was preparing himself mentally, as he really believed they had a chance of making it to the Super Bowl the next year. One of his common cliches is “the separation is in the preparation.” Preparation is vital to success.

Proverbs 30:25 The ants are a people not strong, Yet they prepare their meat in the summer;

Proverbs 6:6–8 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; Consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, And gathereth her food in the harvest.

What has set Russell and the Seahawks apart is their intense preparation. Whatever ministry God has placed us in, may we work at preparation. What typically sets a great church conference from a poor one is preparation. What is often different from a good sermon from an ok message is the preparation. The separation is in the preparation. A great employer or employee is one that knows how to plan and prepare for the occasion. I am usually up late working, but I am challenged to go to bed a little earlier that I may arise earlier and prepare my day more efficiently.

Having Vision and Goals
Having a vision and goals is important for any NFL team. Last year Russell had some reminders of goals he had written in his locker. They were Consistent, Dominate, Clutch, Healthy. Consistent being number one. Russell struggled a little the latter fourth of the season of putting any elite statistics on the board. However one thing he was good at was having goals and being consistent. Even when he didn’t have his best offensive game, he was consistent at not making any costly mistakes. Seattle’s defense often picked up the slack when Russell wasn’t doing his best and they still won games because of a true teamwork environment and they had a vision to win. They had goals for themselves.

It is important for Christians to set goals for themselves. To set goals that help their spiritual growth and to have a vision with accommodating goals of how to grow the particular ministry the Lord has them involved in. Set goals for your family.

Philippians 3:14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Focused Intensity and Diligence
The Seahawk players put all their focus on the game they’re playing. Although the vision is to make it to the Super Bowl and win it, they are focused on the goal right in front of them: to win the next game. When others would talk about the playoffs prematurely, the players and coaches would often say “Our goal is simply to go 1 and 0.” Now every team basically says they have that mentality, but the Seahawks really successfully got this ingrained in all of the players. They had a focused intensity about them. They worked diligently at preparing for the game that was ahead of them, treating every game as a championship game. The following was written in another article online regarding Russell:

“How did Wilson arrive at Wisconsin in the middle of the summer, so far behind, then win the hearts of his new teammates so quickly that four weeks later he was named a team captain?” “He works harder than you," said Cole Hawthorne, one of his old receivers at Collegiate. "That's what got so many people following the bandwagon. It's almost like a challenge. You're trying to work harder than Russell."

We all could do well to have the same character to work diligently at whatever is before us. Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

Not Living in the Past
The Seahawks have enjoyed their Super Bowl celebrations, but you don’t see them consumed with it now. Their motto is “What’s Next?” They are not focused on back then, they’re looking at what’s next. The Super Bowl was back then, this is now. We also need to make sure we are not consumed with the past, whether they are victories or failures. Reflect on the past, but don’t live in it. Focus on the now, that which is before you.

Philippians 3:13 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,”

Making a Difference
Another trait that Russell embodies well is compassion. He visits the Seattle Children’s Hospital just about every Tuesday, his day off. At the close of last year I heard him say that he met over 1,500 kids in hospitals from around the country and that 82 percent of them did not have a father or mother. That demonstrates a sad condition our country is in with regards to the family unit. Russell shows compassion on many who often facing terminal illnesses. May we all strive to manifest compassion towards one another.

Jude 22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:

The Making of a Champion
Here is an excellent video about the attitude and mindset of several of the Seahawk players and coaches regarding the making of a champion. Do watch. It is inspirational and something you don’t commonly see in professional athletes. May Jesus Christ be preeminent in our life! To God be the glory!


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