The bridge between all that practice and the performance is the pre-game routine. The same is true in nearly every endeavor. You have to win the war inside before you can win the war outside.
I will never speak without going through an important ritual. It involves being on my knees in prayer and admitting my weaknesses so that I can enter into Christ’s strength. Some things I have integrated into my preparation have come from athletics.
The best athletes know how to quiet themselves as they get ready to compete. The Brazilian Pele is considered the greatest soccer player of all time. In his book “Mental Gym” Gary Mack interviewed Pele about his game before the game ritual. He would go into the locker room and grab, not a soccer ball, but a couple of pillows. He would go lie down somewhere all by himself. He would put a pillow under his head and a pillow on his face. This is so weird, but it gets better. He said he would go back to his childhood in his mind and imagine himself playing soccer on the beach, because that’s where he first started to love the game. He wasn’t playing for money, he was just playing because he loved the sport. Then he would flash forward and start to remember the highlight reel of his career. He would picture the best moments when he had performed exactly like he had wanted to. After watching all of these great moments in his career, he would flash forward now to what he had come to do, the reason he was in the stadium he was in. And he would then begin to think about the way he wanted to play and he would actually feel himself watching himself in the movie theater of his mind doing what he had come to do. Then he would get up, join his team, do some stretching, and he was ready to enter the stadium as an unstoppable force. He would be cool and calm—he’d already watched himself win, now all that was left was to do it.
When I read this, I immediately thought of something Peter said. He wrote, “So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control.”
I see this in Moses. Moses knew what he was supposed to do. Make a nation out of slaves, unite the clans, bring God’s people into the promised land. But he wasn’t winging it. He was given the steps: stick to snake, hand to leprosy, water to blood, and he did this twice before he got to Pharoah’s court on game day. He prepared his mind for action and made sure it was locked in.
When it comes to unpacking what God has put inside of you, we can’t overlook preparation. What if instead of referring to your time with Jesus in the morning as “quiet time” we just referred to it as getting your game face on. Take a pause, take a breath, hear from God, spend time in His word, let His truth wash over you.
No matter what is in front of you today, be it a stadium full of people you will be performing in front of, a rocket launch to Mars, a classroom of students you will be speaking to, or a toddler you will be parenting, this much is true: You’re not ready to face the game until you’re ready to put on your game face.
Questions to ask yourself:
- What things should I remove from morning routine to start my day strong? What things should I add?
- What is something God has put inside of me that I might be hindering from coming out by not preparing my mind for action?