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Spiritual Training Cycle: Perspective (wk. 7/13)

In our gym, we have some familiar phrases. It’s not uncommon to hear our coaches saying things such as, “we’re all working on something,” or, “look around, it’s hard for everybody right now.” There’s also the classic, “what challenges you changes you.” But one phrase resounds at CrossFit 737 above all others. In fact, it’s such a strong part of our culture that we embed it into the DNA of every class. At the end of every workout our athletes hear, “Once you can say your name out loud, go tell somebody else they did a good job. That’s called encouragement and we all need it.” As athletes get busy high fiving, fist bumping, and encouraging each other, you feel a sense of bonding, strengthening, and unifying. That’s the power of praise.

Praise is a critical part of the coaching and development process. Or at least it should be. I can only recall a few coaches in my life who didn’t integrate praise into their process, and it wasn’t a great experience. But not just any praise will do. To be fully effective, praise must be authentic, timely, and specific. A general “good job” or “keep it up” can get you started, but authentic, timely, and specific praise must be the foundation. It’s important to note that praise is not feedback. Feedback is a form of constructive criticism designed to correct or improve. I like to keep the two separate. In my years of coaching, I’ve found that trying to “soften” feedback by sandwiching it between two slices of praise dilutes the effectiveness of both. Feedback is an important part of the process, but to bond with an athlete, to strengthen them, and to unify them to a community of encouragement, you must provide praise.

Praise is also part of how we worship God. Worship is the giving of our entire self, our thoughts, and our emotions, to God’s use. It’s a state of our heart. The word itself means, “the quality of being worthy.” When we worship, we are saying that God is worthy. He is worthy of our praise. Praise from both our bodies and our souls. The result, or effect, of worship is a renewal of the mind, transforming us more and more into the image of Christ.

Praise bonds us closer to God. Not only the praises we offer Him, but the praises He lavishes on us. Praise strengthens our spirit. We learn that as we praise God, even in the difficulties of life, He upholds and sustains us. Finally, praise unifies us with Christ. Jesus loved to praise the Father. Our praises unite with His praises, transforming us more into His image. When you worship, let it be more than just songs or actions. Let it be filled with praises. There is power in praise.

Questions for Reflection:

In all the ways the Psalmist writes of praising God in Psalm 150, which one speaks to you the most?

Accumulate 12 minutes praising the Lord. What theme dominates your praises?

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