Landing On Your Butt 20,000 Times

How often are you willing to fail to get better? For Shizuka Arakawa, winner of the gold medal in figure skating at the 2006 Winter Olympics, it was more than 20,000 times.

In Talent Is Overrated, Geoff Colvinnotes:

Shizuka Arakawa
Shizuka Arakawa

[Arakawa] was twenty-four and had been training as a skater since age five. Winning the gold requires flawless performance of moves that the rest of us would consider simply impossible; Arakawa's specialty was something called a layback Ina Bauer--bending backward almost double with the feet pointing in opposite directions--leading into a three-jump combination. Perfecting such moves requires huge quantities of practice, and falling down during much of it. For Arakawa it took nineteen years....[and] at least twenty thousand derriere impacts on an unforgiving surface.[1]

I've been thinking about Arakawa, derriere impacts, and being our best for God. Of course the message of the gospel is that we don't DO anything to win God's favor, we simply rest in faith in what Jesus has DONE for us on the cross (Ephesians 2:8-9).

But shouldn't we who have been rescued and gifted and empowered WANT to be our best for God? Shouldn't He get our best devotion . . . our best service . . . our best witness . . . our best prayers . . . and our best efforts where we live, work, and play?

Paul reminds us, "you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body" (1 Corinthians 6:20). If we're going to glorify God by getting better then we're going to have to take some risks to improve -- and we're going to fall down. Colvin continues:

A study of figure skaters found that sub-elite skaters spent lots of time working on the jumps they could already do, while skaters at the highest levels spent more time on the jumps they couldn't do, the kind that ultimately win Olympic medals and involved lots of falling down before they're mastered....Landing on your butt 20,000 times is where great performance comes from.[2]

The message is simple, we're going to have to go out of our comfort zone to improve. And that means "landing on your butt." But for all those afraid of a hard fall there is good news. God says, For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.[3]Why? Because our great God lifts us back up every time!

Where do you need to risk falling to get better for God?


[1] Geoff Colvin, Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else.  New York: Penguin Group, 2008. Page 187.

[2] Colvin, Talent Is Overrated, page, 188.

[3] Proverbs 24:16