Progress: Accelerated by intentionality

I recently listened to an interview with NBA all-star Steph Curry. Curry’s progress over the years is incredible: from being an undersized high school player to getting a scholarship to play at Davidson; from being turnover-prone as a college freshman to getting drafted in the first round by the Golden State Warriors; from being a solid NBA player to becoming the league MVP and one of the best basketball players in the world.

Steph Curry’s progress didn’t just “happen.” It’s the result of thousands of hours of practice – and even now he continues to work hard at improving his game. But it’s not just putting in time. Curry is very intentional about what he does. When he practices or warms up before a game, Curry intentionally starts with shooting close-in shots because he’s training his mind to expect to see the ball going through the hoop. Curry is also intentional about repeatedly practicing only the types of shots he would take in a game. Steph Curry’s continued progress as a basketball player is accelerated by intentionality.

The same holds true for our progress spiritually. As we’ve been discussing in this series of devotions, you’re all about progress in your approach to coaching. How can you also be all about moving forward in relating to and living for Christ? We’re looking at 1 Peter 1 and what it teaches about elements that enable personal spiritual growth, thus also empowering you to make an even greater impact for Jesus in your sphere of influence as a coach.

We’ve already seen in 1 Peter 1 that progress is fueled by hope (v. 3), strengthened by trials (vv. 6-7), and built on belief (vv. 8-9). Verse 13 begins with “therefore” – that is, because of what Jesus and his resurrection mean for our hope, trials, and belief – and is followed by a directive: “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” Peter is saying that spiritual progress doesn’t just “happen.” Growth in relating to and living for Christ is accelerated by intentionality.

According to 1 Pet. 1:13, we move forward spiritually as we’re intentional in these areas:

1. Prepare your mind for action. Athletic progress is accelerated when the athlete is intentional about food intake – consuming healthy food and avoiding unhealthy food. Similarly, spiritual progress requires intentionality in what we’re putting in our mind so we can live for Christ in this world. Prepare your mind to take action for Christ by inputting the right things (e.g. God’s Word, conversations with other believers about living for Jesus) and avoiding the wrong things (e.g. material that exalts sin and undermines God’s glory).

2. Be self-controlled. The more self-controlled an athlete is, the better they’ll be able to repeatedly do the right thing in spite of pressure to do otherwise, leading to growing athletic success. In life, doing what Jesus says is the right thing in spite of temptations and pressures to do otherwise requires self-control. Exercise self-control and you will experience growing levels of thriving in God’s good design for you.

3. Set your hope fully on Jesus and his grace. Genuine hope for the future enables us to persevere in the present. This is true in both sports and life. When you’re intentional about focusing on Jesus – what he’s graciously done for you and what he graciously promises you – you keep renewing the hope that fuels progress. The more you set your hope fully on Jesus, the greater your forward movement spiritually will be.

Coach, you’re all about progress when it comes to your athletes and team. Be all about progress when it comes to relating to and living for Christ. Jesus desires for you to grow and thrive in him. He wants to work through you in greater and greater ways in your sphere of influence. So be intentional about what 1 Peter 1 says will move you forward spiritually. Progress is accelerated by intentionality.

For reflection: Of the three areas discussed from 1 Pet. 1:13, in which would you like to be more intentional? Talk to the Lord about this, trusting his power and grace to enable you to move forward.