Turning 2: The Mental Game and God’s Word

article by Ray Santiago III

“To be strong physically is commendable, to be strong socially is desirable, to be strong intellectually is valuable, to be strong spiritually is inestimable.” – W.A. Bodell

In working with athletes who desire to play for God’s team in their heart while representing another team on their jersey, one of the biggest hurdles tends to be trying to juggle the demands of life and baseball while still having time to grow in their spiritual relationship. So, if you’re finding the demands of life and baseball are consistently calling priority while time with God routinely gets dropped like a fly ball in Little League, here’s a strategy to help you develop mental strength and spiritual strength simultaneously:

Self-Confidence:  Every athlete has fallen victim to their circumstances and allowed doubts, worries and fears to sink them. Yet, there are plenty of ways to build unshakeable self-confidence to combat these thoughts and feelings and one strategy involves your self-talk. Whether you realize it or not, you’re constantly talking to yourself, and what you say can greatly impact how you perform.  What you allow your heart and mind to entertain – you’ll maintain and what you maintain you’ll retain and what you retain will come out of your mouth.  The greater the quality of thoughts, the greater the quality of your self-talk which leads to consistent quality performance.   You have two choices when it comes to self-talk: To build yourself up with confidence or tear yourself down in defeat.  Which will you go with?

So how does one build a God confidence? In the very same way.

God Confidence: (Matthew 14:22-33) God confidence is built by putting God’s Word in your heart and mind (Psalms 1:2), believing it to the point of action (Hebrews 11:6), and allowing it to flow from your mouth (Proverbs 18:21).

In Matthew 14:22-33, the apostle Peter begins to take believing action by walking on water in response to Jesus bidding him to “Come.”  All is going well until he allows his mind to get distracted from Jesus and begins focusing on the violent winds and crashing waves.  Now, Peter has a choice: control his thoughts, rise up and “Come to Jesus,” or to sink in fear due to the surrounding circumstances.

As you remain fully persuaded in your believing and speak God’s Word to yourself when all around you seems to be crashing down, you’ll be able to remain God confident as you rely on Him to take care of you in any situation on or off the field.

As you continue to entertain God’s Word in your heart and mind, your thinking will be transformed into perfect thoughts. There are few things in baseball that are perfect, but your thoughts and self-talk can be.

YOUR TURN: Quickly put to memory the following verse from Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Now, close your eyes and repeat that verse quietly to yourself for a few minutes…allowing the phrase ‘perfect peace’ to echo in your mind.  Repeating Scripture to yourself is an incredible way to gain a God Confidence and as you learn to stay your mind on Him – He promises you perfect peace.  What ball player wouldn’t love perfect peace?

The quality of your performance is largely determined by the quality of your thoughts.  When you learn to take care of your ‘thought life,’ your thoughts will take care of you. God is the Master Creator of the mind and He’s freely given us His Word as the blueprint for how the mind functions at its best.  Learn God’s Word, live God’s Word, and give it to the world.  You’re God’s #1 draft pick…think and live like it!

Ray Santiago III is a Sport Psychology Consultant specializing in baseball and softball. He enjoys working with athletes desiring to integrate their relationship with God into their athletic careers in order to make an eternal impact in the world for God and Jesus Christ. Visit RenewedMindPerformance.com to learn more.