Matt Lindland is an Olympic and World silver medalist (2000, ’01), former #1 ranked UFC middleweight, and the founder of famed MMA training center Team Quest in Oregon. You may know him best — or just as well — as the head coach of the United States Greco-Roman National Team since ’14. Lindland resides in Colorado Springs, CO with his wife, Angie.
Those of us who are on a mission are driven and focused on achieving a very specific objective — Olympic gold. The audience to whom I am writing are the athletes, athletes who are seeking to become the best in the world at the sport of wrestling. Everything we do is to become the best and most consistent performer on the mat we can be, with the hopes of standing on top of that Olympic podium.
This coronavirus pandemic has really put us in a tailspin. The world shut down. We can’t train, we can’t plan, we can’t prepare. The Olympic Games are postponed for an entire year. Now all we want to do is figure out when we can get back to training and preparation for the new date of the Olympics.
Recently, Pastor Mark Driscoll took the time to speak with the Greco-Roman National Team athletes and he asked an important question: “Who is the center of your life?” He then asked, “Are you healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually? What kind of an individual will you be when your athletic career is over, whether you accomplished your goals or not?”
Olympic athletes, artists, singers, and other types of world-class performers are some of the most successful individuals on the planet in their chosen fields. These types of individuals are always looking to improve, no matter the cost. Many of these individuals are also some of the most self-centered, and self-absorbed people you’d ever meet. They believe that everyone in their lives is compelled to serve their objectives and help them to reach their goals.
As humans, we were not created to be the center of the universe, and your identity should never be tied to your performance. If your identity is tied to performance, and you are the center, there are only two options: if you win, you are arrogant and lonely; and if you lose, you are depressed, dejected, and self-destructive.
Performance matters in all walks of life, particularly when it comes to wrestling. That’s why we do what we do, which is challenge ourselves to achieve the greatest performance we possibly can.
But people matter more.
Someone does need to be the center of your life — and it can’t be you. It should be God, and his name is Jesus Christ. We all have people or things in our lives that we love, sacrifice for, and are the targets of our affection. The #1 question each of us has to answer is this — Do we worship created things, or the Creator? God deserves to be worshiped. He created everyone and everything. Our character as the created is to worship our Creator. Every problem in life is, at its core, is a worship problem. And whom or what you worship matters.
While we are off the mats and unable to train and compete, use this break to reflect and see if someone else can be the center of your life. If someone else is the center, it takes a lot of pressure off of performance and gives you more freedom. Find someone who loves you, comforts you, and is there for you win or lose.
One day your wrestling career will be over, and you need to prepare for the future. Ask yourself what kind of a human being will you be when you are finished competing, whether you achieved your goals or not. You don’t want to be a man who won on the mats but lost in life.
As elite athletes, you have a good understanding of what it takes to succeed at the highest level. You understand the kind of commitment and sacrifices it takes to train and prepare to win against fellow elite competitors. You also feel pressure to perform and win. At times, that pressure can be too much. Especially when you are at the center of your own life.