My granddaddy Charlie used to tell me, “It takes a long time to become a champion, baby.” Boy, was he ever right!

It took twenty-five years from the first time I skimmed across the water on water skis until I stood on the podium where I was crowned World Champion. Being victorious is a journey, and sometimes it’s easy, but sometimes it can grow steep, tiring, and overwhelming.

There were years when I thought I’d fail to achieve my goals, but because I refused to quit and because I refused to allow my emotions to dictate my choices; I became victorious. Life takes the same determination.

Be assured, this thing called life isn’t going to be easy. Satan will make sure of it. But as you completely remove the option of quitting from your life, and as you commit to say “Hit it!” to God over and over again; you will be victorious. Maybe not immediately, but victory will come.

I’d like to share some disciplines that helped lead me to the top of the podium as a water-skier. Ironically, they are the same actions that will lead us all to the top of God’s podium—that place of victory where we experience God’s best, and the place where He is glorified, lives are impacted, and where we consistently experience His joy and peace.

Here are those keys to becoming victorious.


Purpose to Be a Champion

The undeniable truth is that there is no such thing as a half-committed champion in any arena of life, regardless whether it’s in athletics, business, marriage, finances, parenting, education, physical health, or a Christian walk. Being victorious begins with a decision and is achieved through a daily commitment to line up your life decisions with actions that have the ability to move you toward your goal.

Don’t Let Your Feelings and Circumstances Rule You

Being Victorious doesn’t just happen. It takes a daily commitment to push through your emotions, fleshly desires, and yes, even physical and emotional pain. If you wait to feel like training, exercising, studying, or even reading your Bible, you’ll probably never take action.

Learn from Your Mistakes

I fell daily, but my mistakes weren’t failures. They were opportunities to learn lessons that could move me one step closer to my goal. By remaining teachable, you will be able to learn from your mistakes and avoid future mishaps by moving forward differently. You’ll even be able to help others overcome and even avoid the same mistakes.

Forget the Past and Move On

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past” (Isaiah 43:18 niv). Dwelling on the former things, whether good or bad, can cause a delay in victory. Focusing on good things can cause you to settle in and become content and complacent. Focusing on bad things can lead to discouragement and defeat.

The past is the past. It can’t be changed. There’s no need to wallow in self-pity and become overwhelmed with “if only” scenarios and “what if” questions. There is nothing you or I can ever do about our past except move forward and make better decisions in the future.


Focus on Your Own Performance

Before every competition, my father would tell me, “Go out there and beat Kristi. Don’t worry about what those other girls are doing. Do what you can do.” This was such great wisdom, and it caused me to constantly strive toward my potential. There was nothing I could do about the actions of others. So why worry about them? By focusing on giving 100 percent of effort towards my own goal, I was always free of regrets.

Set Goals

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit nothing every single time.”As an athlete, I journeyed to the top of the podium because I continually set goals and pursued them wholeheartedly. Once I hit the target I was aiming for, I set my sights on a new one. This constant chasing after new goals kept me moving forward and prevented me from becoming stagnant.

Don’t Look at the Buoys

In the slalom event, I mastered the art of rounding obstacles instead of focusing on them. The slalom course is comprised of six buoys that the skier must successfully round. Early in my career, my parents taught me to gaze diagonally through the course instead of focusing on the upcoming buoys. It’s a well-known fact that the moment the skier allows his or her eyes to zero in on those fast-approaching, little orange buoys, their run will come to an abrupt end.

It’s simple: your body follows where your eyes are focused. If a skier wants to continue to move successfully through the course, he must refrain from looking at the buoys.

In life, we face obstacles too. They can appear in many forms—relational, financial, physical, emotional, or spiritual. The key to success, just as in slalom skiing, is to avoid focusing on the obstacles. We don’t ignore them; rather, we fix our eyes on things above and give the obstacles to the Lord. With His help, we can round even the most difficult of life’s buoys.

Tap into the Power Source

As a skier, the only way I could accomplish great feats on the water was by tapping into the incredible power source of the boat. Without it, I was going nowhere! I had huge biceps and a determined heart, but those two things alone weren’t enough to move me forward to victory. Similarly, the only way to accomplish great things in life—things with eternal value—is by choosing to be connected to God, the ultimate power source. He will never fail you. He will help you become victorious.

Written By Kristi Overton Johnson