I’m not a big sports fan, but last night I sat transfixed watching the American women get back their victory Japan had taken four years ago in the World Cup of Soccer.
Five life lessons from the World Cup about your dreams.
1. Reclaim your dream. What’s the dream from God that’s captured your heart, that’s lingered, that you can’t shake off? Are you still holding onto it, or have you let it go? If you’ve let it go, maybe it’s time to reclaim your dream. Your dream doesn’t have to be something spectacular like winning the World Cup. In fact, some of the best dreams are seeing your child walk in faith, your marriage restored or strengthened, getting paid to do what you really love, earning that degree or breaking an old, debilitating habit.
2. Do whatever it takes. The women who were draped in American flags, grinning from ear to ear, know this lesson well. Behind the victory and smiles were years of grueling drills, training, eating right and sweat equity. But we saw what happens when a dream, God-given talent and tenacious discipline collide.
Seeing your dream come to pass may not be easy. Maybe it’s getting up earlier each morning to get your exercise in or writing a few pages on that book you keep saying you’re going to write. Find out what it’s going to take, then get going.
3. You will have critics. Early on, there was doubt about the U.S. team having what it takes. About whether this would all end in disappointment, as it had at the last three World Cups.
Maybe there are jealous people in your life who don’t want you to lose the weight, get the degree, flourish in that new business, etc. because it might shed light on their own lack of follow through. Maybe it’s the voices in your own head, reminding you of past failures or fear of future failure. Replace the Voice of the Critic with the Voice of Truth: You can do all things through Christ. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. He Who began a good work in you will complete it.
4. You will have disappointments along the way to victory. The American women were soundly beaten in 2011 by the Japanese. They could have quit, saying, “Soccer’s just not for me.” They could’ve become bitter. Instead, they used the defeat to fuel their preparation for the next World Cup, four years later. As I mentioned, I’m no soccer player, but I imagine they dissected that defeat to learn what they could’ve done better.
The challenges and disappointments you face on the way to your dream will require you to make a similar choice. Will you leave your pain, your disappointments, your failures of the past to follow your dreams or will you let these hurts steal your hope for a better life?
5. Remember to share the credit. There she was, America’s new sweetheart, Carli Lloyd, surrounded by the deafening roar of adoration from the stands. One sportscaster dubbed it “The Carli Show”. But I don’t think Carli saw it that way. When Abby Wambach entered the game in the final moments, Lloyd took off her captain’s armband and placed it on the U.S. soccer legend. It was a gesture of respect and gratitude to a fellow player who has carried the women’s soccer torch for many years.
When God grants you success, remember that you didn’t get there alone. Maybe it’s family members who believed in you when your dream looked silly. Or friends who supported you along the way. Most certainly there is the graciousness of God. Remember to stay grateful and humble when your dreams are realized.
May God grant you success with the dreams He’s given you!