April 14, 2024

The desire to win has been the goal of many great athletes throughout history.

This desire is fledged out through the hard work that shows in the sweat on a practice jersey, the bruises from tackling drills on a football field and the extra swings in the cage a player takes after his team leaves the field.

Jeff Mooney, associate professor of Old Testament at California Baptist University, experienced the dramatic change when the desire to win was instilled in him through his relationship with Jesus Christ.

As a gifted athlete growing up in Alabama, Mooney excelled in basketball, baseball and most of all, track. Eventually walking on to the Auburn University track team, the harsh reality of what it took to be a college athlete confronted Mooney.

Hanging up his track spikes after his freshman year, the music scene became his main focus as a Jazz Performance and Music Theory major. Some of the good character qualities that coaches and athletes desire came to him through his efforts from behind the piano, but turning his life to Jesus developed his maturity in a way that athletics and music never could.

“All the things, interestingly enough, my coaches wanted me to be in my early years in athletics, I became after I became a Christian,” Mooney said. “I became disciplined, I became driven, I became ambitious, I became unafraid to execute a plan. I became vigilante to study things that I already knew and to continue to plow through them.”

Winning became an important goal in every area of life for him. It did not need to be confined to the track or in the gym.

“I think people who are not taught how to win and how to fight to win and struggle to win and be disciplined to win and be trained to win early on missed out on a huge lesson in life that really makes them a very successful individual,” Mooney said.

Though athletics was no longer in the picture for Mooney, the remnants of the teachings he received from previous coaches began to appear in his life as a professor and a pastor.

As the senior pastor of Norco First Baptist Church, Mooney finds winning to be a necessity from behind the pulpit. Success comes from his ability to explain the Bible to his church in order to create spiritual maturity among his congregation.

“When I stand up to preach, this is a very serious business to me,” Mooney said. “Paul talks about in his letters that he longs for the sanctification of his congregation and he toils to present everyone mature in Christ and things like that. In my mind, that’s where that lies for me.”

Winning doesn’t stop in the sanctuary. As a professor at CBU, Mooney strives to maintain the university’s community of excellence. Taking it personally, he challenges himself to be a contributor to the academic quality that CBU offers.

“I want CBU to win. I want us to be the best university that we can be and I want to be a part of contributing to that,” Mooney said.

Competitiveness and the pursuit of excellence are key strengths that Mooney sees as necessary characteristics to be a successful person in life.

Referring to the apostle Paul’s letters to the people of Corinth, he points out Paul’s reference to being an athlete and winning.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize,” (1 Corinthians 9:24).