“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

Faith is a matter of perseverance.

It really begins with you. A belief about you. And a goal. If You want to be successful, calculated action is a major requirement. But also, subsequent perseverance to follow through when things don't go as you planned. After all, faith without works is dead.

There are things you just have to move through..

Through pain.

Through fear.

Through self-doubt.

Faith until that idea becomes life. One step at a time. Forever Forward.

A great man, born in brooklyn, 4th of five children to two hard working parents understood these things early on. 1963 was the year.

I'm only vaguely aware of his childhood experiences, but his high school story is what stands out most to me. Ever the over achiever, as a sophomore he tried out for the varsity team. He loved the game but was deemed “too short and skinny”. Didn't make the first cut, but his taller friend did. At that point, he needed to make a decision. There will always be a time when you are told you’re not good enough for your dream. And when you look at your current status, everything will agree. There will be absolutely no practical reason you can imagine to keep moving forward. That is your make-or-break moment. Do or die. Fight or flight. Most choose to break flight in the wrong direction and basically wait to be told to die. This kid was special though. Never one to conform, he chose to let the set back motivate him and forged ahead. He had something to prove. Eventually he grew into his vision and became an All-American.

Now that’s faith.

As a freshman in college he led his team to the championship, but lost the next two years. Another set back. Another decision. Then comes the NBA draft. Finally! First pick? No. Second? Forget about it. Pain, fear, self-doubt on a million? Yes. But he had been here before: many times at this point and the solution was always the same. Believe. Act. Overcome.

Belief cannot be given to us by anyone. It has to come from within us. It can't be those of our parents and teachers, colleagues or even our competitors. Belief is the foundation. It's hard to hold on to your faith, in the process, when you really don't believe in yourself in the first place. You can't build toward success without this foundation, or any gust of criticism, any tremor of adversity will cause your house to fold. Check your foundation often. Build it. Keep it strong and fortify in the places that will make it better. Your faith will be tested and it has to overcome.

Only after being tested can we succeed.

He was eventually drafted into the league, made Rookie of the Year with 28.2 ppg his first season, ranked third in the whole league. Within four years he became the most recognized athlete in the country and probably the world. He overcame. He succeeded.

He was a natural at the game. It was like he could sense changes of energy and tempo as they happened, like he was studying a playback of the game except he was still on the court, real time. This was life and he was one of the most talented players the game has ever seen. But talent without faith is a jet with no fuel. No wonder they nicknamed him “Air”. Faith brought power to his skill. Faith kept him determined, to recover, reinvent, and succeed. Over and over again. Because that’s what legends do.

He didn’t have the relentless support of family or, at the start of his belief, the height to play even high school ball. He often lacked the perfect team and management. He became the focus of scrutiny and criticism on and off the court. He played through his father’s murder, retired and returned to the game after a stint in baseball (his father’s favorite sport). More setbacks, more trials, but pure faith always demands more.

Michael Jordan, in my opinion, is a man of faith first. He’s recognized now as the greatest basketball player to ever live. His talents may have exceeded his contemporaries, but so did his faith, moving forward through everything from injury to early retirement, toward the accomplishments that made him known in every country on the planet. He made a decision to become unstoppable.

We all can.

The testimony of his career is good news for anyone with faith in him or herself. Belief can be a great motivator behind action. Faith precedes action and begins with a belief, but it can only survive and thrive through perseverance.

One just ain't enough.

Don't ever forget this. There will be setbacks, and tribulations, but where there is faith there is the focus and the power to achieve greatness.

Ed Napper is a fully certified Gym Jones Instructor offering a wide range of personal training services, in New York City. Passionate about Life and helping others maximize their potential. He can be reached at Ed@gymjones.com@precision.ed on Instagram. 

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