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“Victorious warriors win first in their minds, and then go to war. Defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”
~Sun Tzu, The Art Of War

I recently watched some of the Crossfit Games and couldn’t help but be inspired by all the athletes competing for the prestigious title, “Fittest On Earth.”  Similarly, the Olympic Games in Rio have been showcasing incredible human ability. What amazes me the most every time I watch the Olympics is how often World Records are broken. With both The Crossfit Games and the Olympics, the athletes’ physical superiority and mental toughness across multiple days in, at times, grueling conditions are ridiculously impressive.

As a martial arts athlete myself, I resonate with the commitment to training that it requires for these athletes to perform at such a high level under intense pressure. I’m sure there have been numerous times that they’ve thought about giving up or didn’t want to go to practice that day. I’m sure that they’ve had coaches, physical trainers, and nutritionists all encouraging them to “keep going” and “get back up.”  Not one of the athletes in attendance at either of the Crossfit Games or Olympic Games was somehow “born with it.”  Every one of them developed the skills that they have with a warrior’s grit.

But what makes a warrior?

Often, images like the soldier’s picture above come to mind. We often equate “warriorship” with “soldiering.”  But I don’t believe this is the case. In his book The Way of The Seal, Mark Divine defines a warrior as “one who is committed to mastering himself or herself at all levels, who develops the courage to step up and do the right thing, all while serving his or her family, team, community, and, ultimately, humanity at large.”

This means that anyone can develop the kind of qualities that make up a warrior and appropriately so. After all, in Scripture we learn that we’re born into a world at war; that a very real, very spiritual battle is raging all around us and that we’re instrumental in our role in this cosmic war of life and death, blessings and curses…which makes us all warriors whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.

This begs the question: what kind of warrior are you?

Think about that for a second.
Stop reading and ponder this question.
Seriously. I’ll be right here when you get back.

Did you consider what kind of warrior you are? I hope so. The answer matters more than you think.

Whether we’re a warrior of finance or warrior of relationships or warrior of fitness or warrior of spirituality (just to name a few), we must apply vital skills to the unique God-given mission we’ve been given if we are to accomplish all that God has for us in this life. The development of our warrior skills isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Our influence for the Kingdom of God is a stewardship and we’re accountable for how we invest in ourselves, others, and the world around us.

Here are three vital lesson for the life of a warrior that we can begin to apply to our own personal transformational journey of warriorship:

1) Intentional Redundancy

The military has a saying for this: “Two is one and one is none.” Meaning, having only one form of anything like a presentation tool (Powerpoint or Keynote) as I head into this crucial meeting is like having none at all because if this one fails on me, I’m out of options. Intentional Redundancy would be having print-outs available as well as a tech-oriented presentation (two is one).

A surefire way to fail at any worthy endeavor and/or calling is to hope that Plan A will work every time. Reality is a great teacher in this area and reality dictates that we build intentional redundancy into every plan that we co-create with God. This isn’t a matter of faith or trust. Building intentional redundancy into your warriorship development doesn’t mean that you don’t trust God. Of course you do! It means that you recognize that you have an Enemy and that his first move against you will be to trip you up and throw you off course.

How many times have you experienced this? I know I have! I set goals for Scripture memorization or for new fitness accomplishments only to run up against opposition and when my “one thing” fails, I’m left with zero options to move forward. Intentional Redundancy remedies this and mitigates the oppositional Forces of the Enemy by making it hard for us to fail at whatever ground we’re taking in for the Kingdom.

Don’t be fooled! This will happen. Begin today by creating not only a Plan A but also a Plan B and expect a Plan C.

2) Everything counts

How we do anything is how we do everything. Think about that. How we care for ourselves is how we care for others. Scripture confirms this when it says to “love others as you love yourself. ”Everything counts. Nothing is insignificant. Everything matters.

Warriors understand that the degree to which they prepare is the degree to which they succeed in any aspiration and especially those of Kingdom matters. So they give awareness and attention to the biggest dreams and smallest details knowing that where they direct their focus brings energy and life. Said another way: energy and life flows where focus goes.

As an example from my life…how I floss my teeth is a good indicator of how I’ll handle my fitness training. When I don’t regularly take the two minutes at night to floss, I’ve noticed that I tend to waiver in my commitment to fitness training. Now, this doesn’t mean that if I don’t floss then I don’t workout. It’s not an “if/then” proposition in my life. Even so, when I care for my body through flossing I’m much more likely to care for my body in other ways like fitness.

In other words, how I do flossing is how I do fitness.
How we do anything is how we do everything.
Whatever your thing is, remember that all things in your life are interrelated.

And, lastly…

3) Visualization matters

Any noble endeavor is won or lost in the battlefield of the mind. Warriorship mandates knowing exactly who you are— unfettered, unafraid, unveiled—not some contrived version of yourself, and, from this place of True Self, visualizing victory.

Robin S. Sharma said, “Everything is created twice, first in the mind and then in reality.”

Everything starts in the mind with images as ideas and then is created. Think about that. If you’ve ever imagined going somewhere or creating something, you first needed to have a crystal clear picture in your mind first before you could “make it a reality.” Make no mistake, struggles and challenges will arise against anyone who embarks on a journey of expansion and growth but it is the warrior—humble, noble, and true—who will persevere because they have seen what victory looks like first in their mind and then experience it in reality.

Don’t believe me? Try this: take 15 minutes and invite Jesus to meet with you.

Begin by finding a quiet place free of distraction and start to control your breathing. Inhale slowly for 3 seconds, hold for 1 second, then exhale slowly for 3 seconds. Continue this for 5 minutes and with each exhale release to Him all your concerns and burdens. (This kind of breathing technique is actually the first thing that Navy SEALs learn in their training.)

Next, pick one area from the list below that you’d like to experience more life, more blessing, more victory (however you define it):

Career
Family
Finances
Health Fitness
Romance/Significant Other
Personal/Spiritual Growth
Fun Recreation
Friends

Once you have one of these areas singled out, take 5-7 minutes to visualize on the screen of your mind what more life, more blessing, and more victory looks like for you. Really take it in. See yourself succeeding. Notice every detail. Replay the scene in your mind over and over again until it feels real for you.

Then, when time is up, bring your hands to a prayer position and bow your head in acknowledgement of what you’ve co-created with Jesus, sealing your intention for this time with Him. Take the last 3-5 minutes to relax and enjoy this new found vision for a future reality you wish to create with Him. When you’re ready, open your eyes and proceed with your day.

Visualization prayer is deeply powerful and, when combined with bold action, literally brings the Kingdom of God into the here and now.

Warriors first visualize their victory then experience it.  This is true of every soldier, every athlete, and every martial artist.

You and I, we’re no different.

NOTE: this doesn’t mean that everything we set out to do will be a success according to our standards. Powerful men are powerfully opposed. However, in every endeavor, we can be assured that, “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” THAT is victory.

I mentioned earlier that the first thing that Navy SEALs learn how to do is breath control. Another crucial skill they utilize is the “dirt dive” where they visualize a mission, every aspect of an operation, and see themselves succeeding. Here’s how retired Navy SEALs Commander, Mark Divine, used the “dirt dive” to help him earn his Trident as a Navy SEAL…

I began a rigorous mental regimen of visualization, designed to give me a concrete mental and emotional map to becoming a man worthy of wearing the Trident. I needed a visual baseline, so armed with the SEAL recruiting video Be Someone SpecialI closed my eyes and inserted myself into a mental version of the video. There I was—running, diving, shooting, rappelling, and paddling small boats through the surf zone. Each time I did this, I saw myself succeeding at a high level in each activity. I went so far as to have dialogues with other SEALs and instructors in my mind. The story became more real every time I practiced. I even visualized the moment I received my Trident, down to the time of day, the warmth of the sun shining down, the sound of the crowd, and how it would all feel.

We are warriors of that I have no doubt! We were carefully crafted to reveal a unique Image of God to the physical world we inhabit and the invisible Spiritual world all around us. We are His sons and warriors of His Kingdom with a unique calling and mission to fulfill.

Yet, the question remains: what kind of warrior are you? Find out the answer to this question and more at a BraveHeart Intensive weekend for men. And, if you’ve attended a BraveHeart Intensive weekend, join our growing community of alumni in the BraveHeart Fellowship.

May you, beloved of God, be free to be the kind of warrior He’s anointed you to be to fulfill your unique God-given mission in this world.

*****

Blog post by Dave Hackbarth, one of our Braveheart Intensive facilitators, and a Life Coach and Martial Artist.  Check out Dave’s website here.