HPP Series, Part 6
A few months ago, I had the opportunity to work out with a group of high school kids and show them some examples of how Special Operations soldiers physically prepare for combat. Per my standard procedure, we started the workout with a warm-up, which included exercises designed to train basic movement patterns. As I told them to shuffle, skip, accelerate, and decelerate at a low relative intensity, I explained that they were doing this for two reasons:
- To get the blood flowing and “wake up” the nervous system.
- To teach or reinforce proper movement.
At one point, I heard one young man comment, “I didn’t come here to learn how to move. I came here to lift weights.”
I couldn’t resist the teaching moment this comment presented. I asked the young man, “Why do we work out? Why do we lift weights? What’s the purpose for squatting, bench-pressing, deadlifting, and snatching?”
“To get bigger muscles?”
“Why do we want bigger muscles?”
“To get stronger.”
“Why do you want to be stronger?”
The young man began to look a bit confused and nervous. “So we can be healthier and more fit?”
“Why do we want to be healthier and more fit?”
“Um . . . I don’t know.”
I said, “We lift weights to increase our ability to move. We train in the gym with a goal of moving in mind. The goal is to prepare the soldier to move effectively, efficiently, and safely throughout the combat environment.”
The science and art of strength and conditioning is all about providing the spiritual, mental, and physical tools human beings need to survive and thrive in the environment they’re getting ready to step into. As I told this young man, my goal is to make the individuals I work with better equipped to move effectively, efficiently, and safely through the rigors of the environment, which in turn makes them more of a force to deal with by the competition or enemy.
Followers of Jesus Are in Training
Even if you’re not a professional soldier or athlete, the same strength and conditioning principles apply—and matter—to you. A central theme that we at Junto Tribe embrace is that the life of a follower of Christ is much like that of an Olympic athlete or Special Forces soldier—metaphors both supported by the Scriptures:
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV)
Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. (2 Timothy 2:3-5 NIV)
Just like an extremely gifted athlete or soldier, we are running a race—except in our case, the wins and losses are eternal and won’t fade. We are literally and figuratively running a race to fulfill our God-given destiny, which is to find freedom and wholeheartedness through a relationship with direct access to Him. This prize of freedom, wholeness, and relationship isn’t just for us, though; it impacts everyone our lives touch.
The high stakes of this race require us to train and prepare so we can step into the arena to compete and fight with focus, commitment, purpose, and drive. We are here to move in the arena of life effectively and efficiently—to fight the darkness and bring heaven to earth for our families, the church, our communities, and the world.
The Role of Homeostasis in Doing the Work
God has given us the ability to grow and adapt—to train and improve in a holistic (spirit, soul, body) manner. But we can’t improve and grow without stepping out of our comfort zones and accepting challenge. Challenge is the fire where great strength, character, resilience and moxie are honed and hardened.
The challenge is that the human being enjoys, and has a tendency to gravitate towards, comfort. It is in our makeup to try and keep the waters of life from stirring up too much. In fact, this part of our make-up is a well-researched phenomenon called homeostasis. Homeostasis is a naturally occurring state inside the human being. It is the ability of a human to seek and maintain conditions of stability or equilibrium within its internal environment to better handle external changes and challenges around us.
The science of homeostasis can be found in biology, physiology, and psychology, and I propose we can find it in our spirituality as well. At the end of the day, most humans feel better and more comfortable if we’re not rocking the boat or getting outside our comfort zones too much.
But the fact is, we can’t mature and grow without pushing past our limits from time to time. Training only happens when we push past that homeostatic state. If we strive to stay comfortable, our growth will be stifled. Living in the comfort zone may be attractive, but it goes against the wishes of our God, who wants to see us thrive and run our race with vigor and strength. We must look for opportunities to try, smell, taste, touch, feel, and hear new challenges.
Total Human Being Performance
True holistic fitness is about performance. I want to perform at the highest level I’m capable of in life. But to do so, I’ve got to be prepared at the highest level of my complete, tripartite being. I desire complete human performance, and we at Junto Tribe desire the same for you. Our definition of training for total human performance is:
A specific developmental program designed and driven by the needs of the individual and the performance profile that individual needs for life success. The aim is to improve the tripartite nature of that individual so that they can take on the most challenging tasks they have to face on a daily basis with tenacity, strength, and endurance—to bring heaven to earth.
If you have taken the time to train your complete being, you will be able to take on the biggest challenges of your life with greater tenacity, strength, and endurance. If you’re prepared for the toughest challenges, the lesser challenges you face on a daily basis will be easier to take on and handle. Like a highly trained Olympic Athlete, you’ll be prepared for the trials—the challenges of navigating through a world that is desperate for relationship with the Father.
We can be better than we were yesterday. But we must get off our couches of comfort and go out and meet the challenge. The best news is that the Creator of all that is, was, and will be is standing by to help you through this wilderness. He loves you, protects you, and wants to see you thrive and not just survive in life.
There are three essential elements to training for total human performance. First, we must seek the truth to understand where we are and where we need to go. Second, we must adapt by engaging in the specific training that will allow us to progress. And third, we must endure in our training until true victory and transformation occur.
Our Father is searching for able men who possess great strength, wisdom, and character to go forth as leaders of other like-minded men—men who can make tough decisions, step into the darkness, and bring heaven to earth. Only those who are willing to push themselves out of their comfortable place to learn, work, and become better than they were yesterday will be chosen to do the work that matters.
Will you go forth?
a) Ask God for help and take time to search your soul with Him.
b) What are your needs? Present them to Him in prayer. Converse with the God who created you and knitted you together for amazing potential.
c) Journal what He is telling you. This is your needs analysis for increasing your operational, latent potential in body, soul, and spirit
a) Engage in specific training to increase your potential.
i) If you are hurting mentally, get help.
ii) If you need to work on your relationship with Jesus, do it, and get help if you’re struggling.
iii) Get physical. Warriors don’t step into combat without the body that is prepared for the fight. This is the training you need to adapt and bring yourself to a higher level of performance. Yes, I mean work out.
a) Don’t give up. Continue to get up every day with the goal of being better than you were yesterday.
b) Train yourself in spirit, soul, and body.
c) Develop a lifestyle that moves the sliding scale of high performance to the right and stay committed to it. Bring out your God-given authority and live a life of high performance.