Surfin’ and Servin’-Team USA Professional Surfer Rick Takahashi
From getting some much-needed rest to trying something new like surfing, everyone looks forward to summer vacation. But sometimes, lounging by the pool and sleeping in gets the best of us. That rest turns into becoming a couch surfer and coasting by in life. Three years ago, we caught up with professional surfer Rick Takahashi who inspired us to look for opportunities to serve. In addition to holding ten national titles, Rick also has helped Team USA win a silver medal for surfing and even took sixth place in the world. He coaches a high school surf team and leads the Surf Ministry at the Rock Church in San Diego He shared with us about the importance of serving others and giving back to the community.
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Matthew 14:28-30
Rick shared with us outside of surf competitions, what his ministry looks like and why he feels it is so important.
“When I was first asked to be the leader, after our leader stepped down, I had lots of doubts. Our [former] leader was such a strong man of faith and biblically solid that I didn’t’ know if I could fill those shoes in that aspect. What I did bring to the table though was being really involved in the surf community. It really complemented it. We are focusing on the younger generation because they will eventually be the leaders and it is our responsibility to take care of them…Giving back is really important. We feel it’s our obligation to Surf Ministry to reach other surfers for Christ. Our slogan is, ‘Surfers reaching other surfers.’ So giving back to the surf community is not just teaching people how to surf. We did that with our disabilities ministry at our church and we do outreaches where we just serve, but we are really here to share the Gospel. We love going to non-Christian organizations and just serving. We want them to see that we are servants who happen to be Christians.”
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance.” 1 Timothy 4:8-9
Whether you are a professional surfer or channel surfer, Rick shared some great principals to live by.
“Before the surfing Olympics, I called up two-time Heavyweight Champion of the World and Silver Olympic Medalist, Chris Byrd and asked for his advice. He said, ‘Enjoy every moment of the experience.’ And then I asked him about his motto, ‘How bad do you want it?’ I always had the same motto myself. So I love sharing that with kids. They want to be the next someone. I ask them, ‘How hard do you train? What are you doing to prepare yourself for these things?’ But now I know that it is not just physical preparation, but a mental one too. Part of training is to prepare yourself mentally for the task so that when you get to game time, contest or an event, your mind is in the right spot. Now, for me it is making sure I’m around the right people, reading the Bible everyday, and preparing myself physically for the task. I want to give myself the best chance to succeed. How bad do you want to win? How much are you willing to sacrifice?”
Whether you aspire to be a professional surfer or just enjoy relaxing by the pool, God wants to use your gifts and talents to be a witness for Him. Rather than just coasting by this summer, use it as a time to engage with your friends and neighbors in service and spiritual conversations. Oftentimes, God will use the activities we are already involved with and the skills that we have as a platform.
Take time this summer to serve your community. From organizing the neighborhood to do a community clean up to hosting a barbeque to meet your neighbors, God loves it when we take time to serve others. When people ask you why you are doing it, use it as an opportunity to not only get to know them but invite them to church. It is easy for us to stay confined to our “holy huddle” of church, small group or Christian friends, but God wants us to be a light to those around us.
How bad do you want it? What is God asking you to give up to follow Him wholeheartedly? Living our lives for Christ involves a daily commitment. Just like an athlete that undergoes rigorous physical training for a goal, the spiritual journey involves commitment and sacrifice. Pray and ask God what things need to go in order to fully follow Him.
Who does God want you to reach? Gather your friends, teammates or small group and considering becoming part of a ministry or starting one! Use your skills as a platform to reach others. From putting on a surf clinic to teaching people how to knit, God wants us to invest in the lives of others. As we spend time with them, we will have opportunities to have spiritual conversations and share how we became a Christian. Remember to not just have it be a gathering, pray and ask God how to make it about Him!