It absolutely amazes me it has been over fours years since I walked under the lights, up on the stage, and onto the mats in Sydney, Australia to represent our God, Nation, and the Lone Star State in the 2000 Olympic Games.
Many people ask me what it feels like to win an Olympic Gold Medal and how accomplishing that dream has changed my life. Receiving the Gold has given me a strong sense of peace by living the eighteen-year long trek to the apex of wrestling. No one can take the journey away from me. It warms my heart to realize I’ve seen the view at the very top, and I’ll never forget the joy felt during those priceless moments.
Since 2000, my life has changed significantly because Olympic success provides a platform to influence the lives of others, especially young people. That has been and continues to be a great honor. However, with success comes the responsibility for me to give to others the knowledge that has been graciously given to me over the years.
Humbly, since 2000, I have had the opportunity to speak to over 350 schools and many dozens of Church youth groups. Plus, I have taught wrestling clinics in practically every state. After Sydney, did I have other options in the world of high finance? Fortunately, I did. However, I don’t regret one second any of the time I have spent encouraging youth to dream big, make smart decisions, fail forward, and conquer all the fear and excuses that lead to mediocrity.
Achieving the Gold has also changed the way I look at life. Often times, when I sign posters and cards for kids, I'll write,
"Billy, Search for the Greater Gold, Brandon Slay"
Then, I'll add the little ".com"" after Greater Gold or Brandon Slay in hopes of them going on a search...for truth...for wisdom...for something greater…. Proverbs 16:16 says, "How much better to get wisdom than Gold...”
I desire for the youth all across the world to understand God's Wisdom. What wisdom has God taught me since Sydney and what wisdom is greater than Gold?
I have learned we must go for the Gold in life but know and believe our Creator, Heavenly Father, and Savior Jesus Christ is the greater treasure, the Greater Gold. Job 22:25 (NIV) says, “Then, the Almighty will be your Gold.”
God needs to be our Gold, focus, and priority because we can’t serve both God and the Golds of the world. Matthew 6:24 (NIV) says, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” God has to come first. Matthew 6:33 (Msg.) says, “Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.”
When we make God our focus and put Him in the center, everything else will come together.
All of us should go for the Gold, dream huge, and live life to the absolute fullest, but we must realize it's not about a ribbon with a medallion on the end of it or the short term glory success may bring. It’s ALL about the never ending glory we receive through Faith in Jesus dying on the Cross and rising from the grave for the forgiveness of all our mistakes.
1 Corinthians 9:25 (Msg.) says, “You’ve all been to a stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a Gold that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s Gold eternally.”
As you wake up every morning and go about your busy day, are you focused on the Gold’s that moth and rust and thieves break in and steal, or are you focused on the GREATER GOLD of Jesus Christ, which lasts forever? I encourage you to seriously consider your answer to this question and begin searching for the treasure only God can grant you.
Paul Hamm’s Gold Medal – What I think he should do
As I watched the Athens Games, I had a different perspective on what sports and success is all about. Personally, I wish Paul Hamm, who received the Olympic Gold for men’s all-around gymnastics, would have offered his medal to his Korean competitor, who received an incorrect score. I so wanted Paul Hamm to have a press conference and state to the whole world:
I took the journey, shined while the lights were bright and represented the USA with integrity. Yes, I was awarded the Gold Medal on that priceless evening. Unfortunately, mistakes were made in the scoring, but I had nothing to do with that. All I could do was go for the Gold. Now, the Koreans, gymnastics federations, and fans worldwide want me to hand over the Gold Medal.
Well, please, tell me who to mail it to and where to send it, and I'll get it off immediately. I didn't train all these years to keep a Gold Medal in a glass box in my living room. I didn't train all these years for my family, friends, fans, or even the USA, even though it was an honor representing them. I trained all those years for the love of the sport and to maximize my God-given abilities. And, I feel like I did that.
Do I deserve the Gold? That's not for me to decide. But, today, there is something I have decided. Accomplishing dreams is not about medals. Accomplishing dreams is about having the courage to take a huge risk, facing your fears, and knowing there is a possibility of coming up short.
Accomplishing dreams is about competing with honor and integrity regardless of the outcome. Accomplishing dreams is about doing your best and letting God take care of the rest. In Athens, I accomplished my dream. God and I know that, and that's ALL that matters. I refuse to live for an audience of all. My treasure is found in living for an Audience of One. Thanks for your time.
Some of you may completely disagree with my opinion regarding Hamm’s medal, but think about the worldwide impact this offering could have made. A majority of countries see the USA as a medal hungry; a “get the Gold at all costs” nation.
Hamm’s offering of the medal could have helped changed this perspective. Educators worldwide could be telling the story for years to come about a young American who was willing to give the ultimate prize in sports to his competitor because he realize there is something greater than the Gold. This gesture would have stoked the flame of Olympic integrity that has been dimmed by the doping, judging, and political controversies over the recent years.
Things need to change in sports. Things need to change in the way we worship winning. Things need to change in the way we all live our lives. None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes daily. But, we must realize without faith and integrity no amount of Gold Medals, fame, or fortune will ever fulfill us.
What’s the biggest lesson I have learned since winning the Olympic Gold Medal? That’s an easy question to answer:
There is something greater. There is a Greater Gold. Search for it, and I promise you will find it.
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