Choose faith over fear and you can win -- life lessons from the Super Bowl

I grew up in New England. We’ve certainly been spoiled with our sports teams and championships. But it is still hard to lose, especially a Super Bowl. Sunday’s game was one of the best I have ever seen, not just Super Bowls but any football game. And I have seen a lot of football in my life.

The Super Bowl has become a cultural icon, an event that transcends football. Even people who don’t watch football watch the Super Bowl. The excitement from this year’s game will last for a few days for sure. But there are life lessons for us that can last much longer.

Be Fearless

In my years of working with people the issue I see that holds people back more than any other is fear. We fear failure, fear the future, have financial fears and the list goes on. Fear keeps us from realizing our God-given potential.

We miss out on career opportunities because of fear. We fear rejection and we lose the love of our life. We make fear -based instead of faith-based decisions and the results can hurt us or haunt us forever.

The Eagles refused to give into fear. They had good reason they were playing the dynastic Patriots. They were the underdogs and had never won a Super Bowl in their history. But they chose to be fearless.

Twice in the game the Eagles went for it on fourth down. They could have kicked a field goal at the end of the first half and at least get three points but they went for it instead. The result was a ten point halftime lead. Late in the fourth quarter they could have punted and hoped to get the ball back to win the game. Yet, they went for it and it led to the winning touchdown.

A relationship with God gives purpose and meaning to life. You understand God has a personalized plan for your life and seeking to know it and live it out makes life fulfilling.

The experts say the Patriots intimidate teams into being conservative. The Eagles stayed aggressive and now they are the world champions. Choose faith over fear and you can win too.

Be Creative

A lack of creativity holds so many of us back. We get stuck in the same patterns and habits. Predictably we end up with the same results, day after day, year after year.

To be creative do something that makes you uncomfortable. Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Stretch yourself, meet diverse people, try new things. Change your routine. Take an unaccustomed route, watch something different, listen to unfamiliar music. You can't gain new inspiration if what you're doing is always the same.

The Eagles decided to be creative. They saw an opportunity to score a touchdown by trying an unconventional play. They call it the “Philly Special” and it turned out to be very special for them.

On fourth down and one at the one-yard line they had a direct snap to their running back who pitched it to the tight end. He then passed the ball to their quarterback who scored a touchdown. Never in Super Bowl history had a quarterback scored a receiving touchdown. Well, until last night.

The Eagles got creative in order to beat the Patriots and it worked. You can be creative too and possibly solve a problem or finally find success.

Finish Well

Many more people start well than finish well. History is replete with examples of people who had a great start but their finish was poor. It’s easy to start stuff and have a lot of enthusiasm. It’s harder to finish, especially to finish well.

Finishing well is a habit. You begin by finishing well each day, each week, each month and then you have a successful year. When you keep finishing well it ultimately defines your life and legacy.

The Eagles started the game well. In fact, they were ahead the entire game until the fourth quarter. With 9:22 left in the game the Patriots took their first lead. No one ever remembers who was leading the whole game, they only remember who won the game.

The Eagles scored with 2:21 left in the game to regain the lead. But for them to finish well they would have to stop the greatest quarterback in history. A quarterback who has made his reputation leading game winning touchdown drives. And then the Eagles stripped the ball out of Tom Brady’s hand, recovered the fumble and kept the Patriots from scoring the winning touchdown.

They battled and fought to the very end. The result was a win for the ages. When you keep working to finish what you start and do it well you will be victorious in your life.

Be Spiritual

Having a spiritual foundation gives you security in an insecure world. When you have faith you believe that God is in control. You are able to trust God even when circumstances or events are troubling.

A relationship with God gives purpose and meaning to life. You understand God has a personalized plan for your life and seeking to know it and live it out makes life fulfilling. Following the teachings of the Bible focuses you so you can make a difference. You can have a positive impact with your life.

The Eagles are well known for their spiritual foundation. It begins with their head coach, Doug Pederson, who first gave thanks to Jesus Christ before any other recognition after the victory. Their Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich, who I know and write about in my new book, once worked at a seminary before going into coaching.

Both the Eagles injured starting quarterback Carson Wentz and their backup Nick Foles, the Super Bowl MVP, are strong Christians. Foles wants to be a pastor when his NFL career is over. And there are many other players who are believers. Some have even been baptized this season.

You may not ever win a Super Bowl, but you can definitely be a winner in life with a strong spiritual foundation. And these lessons from the Super Bowl are worth applying in your life starting today.

Rick McDaniel is the author of the recently released book "Turn Your Setbacks Into Comebacks." He is also the founder/senior pastor of Richmond Community Church in Richmond, VA. You can find him on Twitter at @rickmcdaniel.