Wonder and the Olympics: Olympic Values


The Tokyo Olympics will start this week! I hope you’ll tune into this summer Olympics as often as you can, to experience many awe-inspiring moments. Check out my article “5 Ways to See God’s Wonder through the Olympics” as you enjoy the Olympic games. Olympians act on a set of values when they compete. According to the International Olympic Committee, “The three values of Olympism are excellence, friendship and respect. They constitute the foundation on which the Olympic Movement builds its activities to promote sport, culture and education with a view to building a better world.” Each of those Olympic values can lead us to experience wonder.


Pursuing excellence involves working hard. Olympic athletes are known for their work ethic. They practice their respective sports over and over, to develop their skills as much as possible. They make sacrifices in order to stay focused and disciplined with their work. Olympians aim to do their personal best in each practice and competition. Olympic athletes who trust God know that who they’re becoming as people is more important than whether or not they win medals. As they pursue excellence, they model a graceful response to whatever happens – win or lose – and focus on being faithful in their journey. As we pursue excellence in our own work, we can experience the wonder of seeing our potential unfold.


Olympians develop friendships with their fellow athletes from around the world. Even though they’re competing against each other, they do so with goodwill. They encourage and support each other to do their best. When loses and injuries happen, they respond with compassion. When victories take place, they celebrate together. Pursuing friendships helps us all to grow in love, which leads to wonder, because God’s essence is love and we encounter awe-inspiring glimpses of God at work wherever we notice love.


At the Olympics, we often see respect in action because the athletes practice good sportsmanship. They respect each other’s value as people, and also as team members who make valuable contributions to their sports. Olympians recognize their common humanity and appreciate the many and diverse talents among them. They also respect the tremendous effort that goes into each competition – from athletes, coaches, judges, volunteers, and more. Seeing Olympians model respect can motivate us to pay close attention to the action. The focus on being fully present that respect sparks in our minds can lead us to awe. It helps us notice and appreciate the wonder that is happening in each moment. We can take that practice of being mindfully present with us into every situation and discover wonder as a result.


Olympic athletes show us strength in action as they pursue Olympic values. The wonder of the Olympics can inspire us to rely on God to give us strength to live out our own core values. Learn more about connecting with God's strength through wonder, in Wake Up to Wonder.