US swimmer Michael Phelps is going to make millions of dollars in endorsements. He is going to be on cereal boxes and late night talk shows and Got Milk commercials. He will never be lacking in funds, but I still fear that he has not tapped into the biggest potential market in the world – sermon illustrations.
Seriously, can you imagine the money Phelps could make if he earned $1 for every sermon that mentions him? I haven’t gone to church yet this morning or talked with any ministers, but I put my ear to the ground and through the crust of the earth could hear the illustration machine rumbling into operation. And it should be, he’s got an amazing story. Some of his feats would probably make a good sermon illustration. In fact, here are three you can have for free:
1. Never Give Up
On Friday, Phelps beat Milorad Cavic by 0.01 seconds. He had lost the race, it was virtually over, but Cavic decided to finish by reaching for the wall off the strength of his legs. Phelps pushed one last time, and the last half stroke propelled his arms forward. That one last push was heard around the world.
2. Be Patient
When he was 11, swimming experts predicted that Michael Phelps would one day rule the world of swimming. He’s 23 now, so for more than 12 years he’s been in the pool. He’s been patiently training and growing and learning under his mentor, Coach Bowman. He practically grew up in a pool and now we, the world, are seeing the dividends of that willingness to work hard all those years.
3. Do What You Were Born to Do
Michael Phelps could crush me like a small, sarcastic bug, but I have to say this. Outside of the pool, he’s kind of a goofball. When you see him in interviews, you are not struck by the degree of fear and dread he seems to give his competitors. But in the water, he’s a machine. Every part of him seems sculpted with a purpose, and that purpose is to win gold medals. You can’t help but watch him swim and feel you are watching someone do what they were born to do.