Ben King's Outrageous Goal
In a time and society where most people separate a knowledge of God from their daily lives and accomplishments, Ben King stands out as an athlete who argues something completely different. At 23 years old, this professional cyclist wants to make one thing clear: God is more important than anything you will ever achieve on this earth.
As the 2010 U.S. Pro Cycling Champion, Ben has had plenty of opportunities to talk about himself, his talents, his hard work, and his rewards; but he chooses to point to God instead, discussing how the love that God has shown him permeates everything he does, especially cycling.
Looking at just some of his achievements makes it easy to see that Ben is an extremely talented guy. Currently a member of Team RadioShack-Nissan-Trek, Ben has been named the Junior National Time Trial Champion (2007), Junior National Road Race Champion (2007), National Road Race Champion (2010), Under 23 National Criterium Champion (2010) and Under 23 National Road Race Champion (2010). Needless to say, Ben knows what he needs to do and he does it quite well.
But here’s the strange thing, Ben is humble about all of it. When my husband Joe and I sat down with him—instead of discussing his accomplishments, achievements, and future aspirations—Ben talked about his siblings and their athletic goals, his teammates’ abilities and senses of humor, and quirky race-day situations he has experienced that sound both terrifying and exhilarating. But there was one constant to every topic we discussed: Ben always pointed back to his faith in Jesus.
This mentality, which stands in direct opposition to the mentality of the vast majority of professional athletes, is deeply rooted in Ben’s understanding of who God is and how He has gifted and called Ben as a cyclist.
Though Ben’s faith has been challenged and strengthened as he has matured, his family taught him the importance of having a relationship with God at a young age. “I grew up in a Christian home,” Ben said in an interview in May. “A number of service trips that took me out of my comfort zone and introduced me to people who were loving and caring for others in God’s name led me to own my beliefs and helped deepen my faith.”
On one specific service trip he took to Nicaragua in 2009, Ben was able to see a glimpse of God’s plan at work in the lives of the people who lived there. By the end of the trip, Ben was convinced that his purpose for going was to see God move, and this allowed his faith to grow even stronger. “God didn’t have a plan for us to fix anything so that we could leave feeling good about ourselves,” Ben said. “Instead, we got to see His kingdom at work and encourage people who were hard at the kingdom work.”
Ben’s faith is one that rests on God’s unfailing nature. He has experienced the validity of this truth and it has changed his life: “because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”1
This faith Ben has in the faithfulness of God directly influences the way he trains and races. “In light of my faith, I have a different view of competition and success from most other cyclists,” Ben said, “my values are different. I don’t know if that changes the way I compete. It definitely motivates me to train and race with my heart, because to hold anything back would be to squander the gifts God gave me.”
And so Ben trains and races with everything he has, leaving all his talent and strength out on the road every day. It’s no surprise, then, that he gets the results he does. But let’s be real. It can’t be easy to give God all the glory and not claim any of it based on hard work, sweat, and dedication. At least that’s what most of us would assume; but Ben has a unique understanding of what goes on day-to-day in the life of a professional cyclist.