Good Habits

Baseball superstar Albert Pujols has been an all-star multiple times, was the NL Rookie of the Year, has been the NL MVP multiple times, and his team (the St. Louis Cardinals) won the World Series in 2006. What are the habits that have led to his success?

Pujols knows that he was blessed with God-given ability. His friend, St. Louis Cardinals’ broadcaster Rick Horton says, “He talks a lot about the responsibility to do his best with the gifts God has given him.”

Three words that describe the good habits that Albert Pujols has developed are:

  • Preparation
  • Focus
  • Discipline

PREPARATION

Part of Pujols’ preparation to compete as a major league baseball player includes putting in extra hours at the field working on hitting drills, studying film, and fielding ground balls. Another part of his preparation is his off-season workout program, which includes strength training and conditioning. He prepares in the off-season so that he can be his best during the season. And he prepares each day so that he can be his best every day.

  • What are some ways that you prepare for competition?

Read Ephesians 6:10-18
10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.

14 Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, 15 and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. 16 In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. 18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.

  • How is a solder’s preparation similar to that of a competitor?
  • What are some consequences of not being prepared?

FOCUS

When you are the leader of your team, as Pujols is, there are a lot of demands on your time. Media obligations, helping teammates, community events, and more. One of the remarkable traits of Albert Pujols is his ability to stay focused on the task at hand while he is training and while he is competing in each game. There are many distractions that could grab his attention, but he is able to keep his focus.

Read 1 Corinthians 15:58
58 Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

  • What are some distractions you deal with on a daily basis?
  • In 1 Corinthians 15:58, how does Paul encourage us to avoid distractions?
  • What does “knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” mean?

DISCIPLINE

Albert Pujols has never given in to the bad habits of wild drinking, partying, smoking, etc. That lifestyle is not who he is. But more than just being a wholesome person, Pujols’ good habits and discipline are rooted in his faith in Jesus Christ. He became a Christian in 1999. And his desire for others to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior motivates him to live a life of excellence and discipline. He realizes that if he leads by example, then his teammates will listen to him when he tells them that they too can be changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Read Hebrews 13:15-16
15 Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name. 16 Don’t neglect to do what is good and to share, for God is pleased with such sacrifices.

  • In what ways are good habits a “sacrifice of praise”?
  • How does placing God at the top of your priority list keep you disciplined and paying attention to the right things?
  • How does living a Christ-honoring, disciplined life open up conversations to talk with others about your faith in Christ?

A Simple Prayer: “Lord, help me to develop the good habits of preparation, focus and discipline, so that I may live my life as a sacrifice of praise to you, and so that I can tell others how they too may have faith in Jesus Christ.”

_________________________

Adapted from Excellence: True Champions Pursue Greatness In All Areas Of Life, Chapter 4, “Good Habits,” produced by Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

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