As an athlete, no one wants to be labeled soft. This term can refer to being physically weak, emotionally unstable or immature mentality. During my early years as a baseball pitcher, cross country runner and golfer, I let bad breaks rattle me. When I was squeezed by an umpire, tired due to heat and experience a sudden wind gust blowing my ball into a hazard, I lost it. Depending upon how I felt, I would cry, complain or become enraged by failure. These setbacks exposed my lack of mental toughness, prompting me to start heading down this path to see what I was missing.
But as for you, continue in the things that you have learned and of which you are convinced [holding tightly to the truths], knowing from whom you learned them, 2 Timothy 3:16.
As a Christian, a trainer from Tentmakers Youth Ministry brought this weakness to my attention during a leadership training seminar. To condense this observation, an advisor demonstrated how my emotions were influencing everyone around me. When I was on fire for God, I lifted up everyone in the room that I walked into. Unfortunately, whenever I was depressed, I didn’t want anyone to be happy, sucking the life out of a room. This spiritual immaturity caused me to leave my youth ministry position in Columbus, Indiana after 16 months. If I was mentally tough, I might still be in youth ministry. Yet, I burned myself out after working 7 days a week for a year.
And how from childhood you have known the sacred writings (Hebrew Scriptures) which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus [surrendering your entire self to Him and having absolute confidence in His wisdom, power and goodness]. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; 2 Timothy 3:15-16.
December 4th will mark my 34th anniversary of publicly proclaiming my faith in Christ. The main lesson I have learned on the road to mental toughness is that the Bible plays a crucial role. The apostle Paul details in the passage above the usefulness of God’s Word. While there will always be areas of my life where I regress, the Bible has become a source of guidance, inspiration and wisdom. The more I read, study and meditate upon God’s precepts, the stronger my mind becomes. As I attempt to grow closer to the Lord daily, my prayers include a desire for my children to develop and display mental toughness. May this blog encourage you to evaluate your own mind so that you too will strive to pursue the road toward mental toughness.
by Jay Mankus