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          A freshman in high school, Jay had never been a wrestler, but after watching the summer Olympics, he decided that this was the sport for him. Although he was a newbie, wrestling seemed to come naturally to him. Pretty quickly, he found himself enjoying the practices and training for meets. As the only wrestler on the team who had not grown up in the sport, Jay was eager to learn as much as he could from his coaches and teammates.

          Mid-season, however, when he discovered that he was matched up to compete against the champ, Jay’s anxiety got the best of him. Damon Jeffrey had been a champion for a couple of years and now he was a senior. College scouts came to the tournaments to check Damon out. He would be getting a scholarship for sure.

          Jay couldn’t sleep the night before the match, knowing that he would be pinned immediately by the senior because of Damon’s experience and strength. Jay’s parents and family members were concerned, as well, that this particular match would be a short one. Imagine their surprise when, during the competition, the two boys struggled through all three periods before the match was called by score, rather than a taken down and pinned freshman.

          Jay was surprised, too. . . and from that day on, his wrestling career seemed to take a turn. He went from being fairly good at his sport, especially for a newcomer, to winning most of the time. There was a new fire in his belly and an intensity in the way he competed that had not been there previously. Jay continued wrestling throughout his high school years and he, too, as a senior, became a state champion.

         

          A scout from the state university showed up during Jay’s senior season to see him compete. After watching a tournament, the scout interviewed Jay.

          “I’m sure you don’t know this, but I was here the day you competed against Damon Jeffrey during your freshman season. I expected you to get creamed that day, but you didn’t, you really held your own with him and I was impressed. So I’ve been following you ever since that match. Do you remember that day? Can you tell me what happened during that contest?”

          “Sure, I totally remember that day,” Jay replied with conviction. “I was scared to death to wrestle against Damon. I had heard so much about him, what a great competitor he was, and how he ate freshmen like me for breakfast…so I was terrified. I figured he’d pin me and that would be that.”

          “You know, I actually noticed a turning point in your wrestling career that day,” the scout replied.  “It seemed to me that, even though you lost to Damon, you came out of that fight stronger and more determined than ever to start winning. What happened that day?”

          “Well, it didn’t take long for him to get me in a hold and I figured I was a goner, but instead of pinning me, Damon put his mouth right up next to my ear and he said, ‘Hey kid, you’re a champion! I can see it in you. You’re a champion, keep fighting!’  and then I squirmed free of that hold and we struggled some more and he trapped me again.  He put his mouth up to the other side of my head and he said again, ‘Jay, you’re a champion! I can see it in your eyes, you’re a fighter, don’t give up, don’t quit, you’re a champion!’ And that kept happening, through all three periods.  He never completely pinned me… he would just get me into a grip where he could whisper in my ear. And that’s what he said to me, over and over again, ‘You’re a champion!’“

          Jay hesitated for a moment, looked at the scout and said, “I decided right then and there to believe what he said. I’ve never forgotten it. That senior, Damon Jeffrey, called out the champion in me.”

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.

                                                           1 Thessalonians 5:11

          The senior, instead of pinning Jay immediately and glorifying himself…took the time to call out the champion in that young struggling freshman. And the words he spoke to him in the middle of the match that day came to pass. He spoke it. He called it out…and it came to pass.

Scripture tells us that there is power in our words. The power of life or the power of death. We can build others up, or we can tear them down. With our very words.

         

          There is a champion inside each of the people you love. It may not have been called out yet. That’s your role. Call out the champion. Be an encourager. Stir folks up to be all they can be. For the glory of God and to benefit this world.

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