Athletes Keep God at the Center of Their Lives

New devotional featuring the words of Christian competitors shares everyday faith advice and inspiration

by Maureen Mackey | Updated 07 Apr 2017 at 9:58 AM

Reaching coaches and athletes “is a matter of the heart,” according to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), a Kansas City, Missouri-based organization that has spent more than 60 years in faith-based ministry and outreach to athletes, coaches, mentors and others.

Now, the FCA has published a pocket-sized version of its best-selling devotional, “Heart of a Competitor: Daily Devotions for a Winning Attitude,” released April 5, 2017. The “Heart of a Competitor Playbook” contains devotions from the staff of the FCA, as well as from some of today’s top Christian competitors.

“Lord, surround me with other believers who can build me up spiritually and encourage me.”

There is new content from Mike Fisher, a star of the Nashville Predators NHL team — and also from women’s national soccer team standout Tobin Heath (shown in one of the images at the top of this story), Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle (also pictured in some versions of this story), Longwood University head basketball coach Jayson Gee, and world champion bobsledder Elana Meyers-Taylor.

“‘Heart of a Competitor’ is one of our most popular devotionals because it helps coaches and athletes keep God at the center of their sports — and their lives,” said Shane Williamson, FCA’s president and CEO, in a media statement. “Coaches and athletes juggle so much, and some things can easily fall by the wayside. But our time with God must never be neglected. Competitors practice, train and give their all to success. Yet to be the best God created us to be, we must also train our hearts.”

He added that “many resources from FCA help coaches and athletes at all levels and of all ages do just that.”

Related: Staying Open with Our Faith and Sharing It with Others

The “Heart of a Competitor” playbook offers 31 deeply felt devotions written by competitors for competitors. Readers — both the serious and the casual — can gain insight into how to handle everyday challenges as well as how to keep God at the center of their lives. This applies not just to their athletic endeavors but to other areas of life as well.

The devotional contains study questions, along with space to record notes and thoughts.

Here’s an example of some of the deeply felt personal material in the book — this exclusive excerpt is from Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who shares his own faith journey:

‘Stay Accountable’ by Clint Hurdle
I’ve been involved in the game of baseball most of my life, and one thing I can tell you for certain [is this:] There’s no way individual players can be successful over a long period of time when they try to do things on their own. I didn’t understand the spiritual nature of that truth until much later in life.

I went to church as a young boy and accepted Christ while in high school. But back then, my personal relationship with Jesus was like an ATM card. I only communicated with Him when I needed something. There was really no accountability to following God’s Word or serving Him.

“We need to stay plugged into something, and that starts with prayer.”

When I turned 40, I realized I needed to plug back into my relationship with Christ. It was during that part of my journey when I realized that isolation is one of the most dangerous situations in which we can find ourselves. I needed to surround myself with some strong Christian men [who] would keep me accountable to my commitment. For me, that meant becoming more active in my local church and attending Bible study groups. It also meant getting involved in FCA [the Fellowship of Christian Athletes] and baseball chapel.

Related: Cubs MVP Finds Grace in His Devotion to God

We need to stay plugged into something, and that starts with prayer and the reading of God’s word. But we also need other believers to keep us accountable, to challenge us, and to encourage us to stay the course.

Lord, surround me with other believers that can build me up spiritually and challenge and encourage me as I walk this journey with you. I want to stay accountable to my commitment and honor you in everything I do. Amen.

“Heart of a Competitor Playbook” is published in partnership with Revell Books and is available through Baker Publishing Group. The Clint Hurdle material from the book is used by special arrangement with Revell. 

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