When TV cameras are rolling and critical judges are at the sidelines, the pressure is high and it’s easy to fall. Steve Kafka, gymnastics coach for Glenbard East High School, saw far too many of his gymnasts fall in competition, costing the team critical points. He came up with a solution which would help them deal with the pressure: he turned up the heat in practice.

At the end of practice each day, the coach began conducting a practice meet. If anyone missed a routine, everyone had to do push-ups. Then he told the team to try and rattle each performer. While one gymnast performed, his teammates would yell, threaten bodily harm, tell jokes, and even throw rolled up socks at him.

Kafka’s idea worked, and even the state championship meet was easy for his gymnasts. The hall of fame coach said, “My gymnasts started to feel that competing in real meets was a breeze compared to practice.” Fighting through daily opposition in practice taught them focus and determination in competition. This is what made them champions.

Like the gymnasts in competition, we will face intense pressure if we are going to follow Christ. Expect it. Get used to it, because it’s a regular part of the Christian life. Whether the pressure comes from people in the world or from carnal Christians, the end result is a closer walk with God and stronger faith.

You might have a strained relationship with a relative on account of your relationship with Christ. There may be people who are doing everything in their power to tarnish your good testimony for Christ. You will be hurt and pushed to the breaking point. Don’t let the pressure cook you. If you let it, it will develop you into a champion.

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.