In 1990 Shawn Maves was sitting in his house alone as a 24-year-old feeling empty, facing broken relationships and lying to newspapers, family and friends about his use of steroids.
Shawn had recently returned home after being in the hospital due to the steroid use he was lying to others about. The former Mr. Ontario was only a few months removed from his last show as a bodybuilder and was at an all-time low point in his life.
It was when he was in his house, alone and empty inside, that Shawn received a call that changed the course of the rest of his life.
Shawn Maves, former bodybuilder and 1989’s Mr. Ontario, joined “The Sweat Room” for this week’s episode to talk about how his experiences as a bodybuilder changed the rest of his life.
Shawn’s Time as a Bodybuilder Took Him Away from the Lord
“I fell away from the Lord and was just concentrating on my ambitions”--Shawn Maves
Before getting involved in bodybuilding, Shawn had a relationship with Christ. He says that he accepted Christ at 13 at a Bible camp in Upstate New York.
However, as bodybuilding became a bigger part of Shawn’s life, his relationship with Christ began to become a smaller and smaller part of it.
While Shawn only competed in bodybuilding shows from 1989-1990, he began training as a bodybuilder when he was 18.
Shawn began to grow obsessed with bodybuilding and the pursuit of reaching the next level. On the podcast Shawn talks about the role that bodybuilding had in his life and how it shaped the way he thought about himself.
Eventually, steroids entered the picture. It’s normal for an athlete to want to reach the next level and achieve as much as they can. Shawn says he felt steroids were the way for him to accomplish this and talks about the thought process that was behind this in the episode.
A few months removed from his last competition, Shawn found himself in the hospital as a result of the steroids he’d been using.
Despite all that he accomplished by the age of 24, Shawn felt an immense emptiness in his life.
A Phone Call from a Friend Rekindled Shawn’s Faith
“God takes you from a dark place, and he starts to breathe life into you. He shows you a purpose because he has a plan for you”--Shawn Maves
During his journey as a bodybuilder Shawn lost his relationship with God. While he firmly believes that exercising and eating good are important and backed by the Bible, it reached an unhealthy level for him.
In the episode Shawn talks about how bodybuilding and the competitions became his god. They ruled him.
Instead of using bodybuilding to glorify God, Shawn was constantly in pursuit of achieving the perfect body. He describes in detail the effect this had on his mental and physical health.
While in his house, broken and at the lowest point in his life, Shawn got a call from a friend.
Shawn’s friend invited him to church.
From here, Shawn says that God started to breathe life back into him.
Over time Shawn started to read the Bible, pray and find great joy in being around God’s people. He rekindled his relationship with God, growing over time and continuing to grow, helping him get to the place in life he is at now.
Shawn Uses His Experiences to Help Guide Others
“When you start serving God, a whole new world opens up. You realize there’s more to this life than trophies and money”--Shawn Maves
Faith and Fitness Magazine was started in 2004 as a resource to build physical and spiritual faith. The magazine helps readers connect their Christian faith and fitness lifestyle.
Since 2017 Shawn has volunteered as a writer for this magazine, aiming to provide wisdom for others and help others find strength in his testimony.
Shawn also occasionally co-hosts “At the Cross Live”, which is a program viewers can call or text a question to. Shawn shared his testimony on this program and like with the magazine, tries to provide guidance to people’s questions based on his experiences.
On the podcast Shawn talks about all the opportunities that God has opened up for him and how he tries to serve others to glorify God.
What is God Teaching You?
Shawn has an incredibly inspiring story that we can learn so much from.
Sports, exercising and eating healthy are good for us physically and can be good for us spiritually. If we do these things correctly, we can use them as a way to honor God and all the ways He has blessed us.
However, we can’t let these things get in the way of our relationship with God. It can be easy to become obsessed with sports or our appearance, letting these things become false idols.
God should always remain our main focus, and we shouldn’t let success push God to the side.
Not only is this directly going against God, but it’s going to leave us unsatisfied with our life. Shawn experienced this.
Instead of fixing our eyes on trophies or a prize, we need to fix our eyes on the Lord. He is the author of our life.
Maybe His plan for us involves sports, using that as a way for us to spread His word to others. Maybe it doesn’t and sports are something that God simply allows us to enjoy and glorify Him through.
Even if His plan for us does involve sports, we need to keep our focus on Him and what his plan for us is. We can’t get caught up in the superficial aspects. Just as with any plan God might have for our life, it’s exactly that: His plan.
We need to be stewards of faith and bring honor to God with whatever direction he calls us to.
When we listen to God and follow his plan, amazing opportunities will open up for us and we will find a peace and fulfillment with our life that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. Just ask Shawn Maves.
Are you following God’s plan for your life? Is your focus on God?
Are you glorifying God in what you do, or have other things taken center stage?
1 John 2:16-17
1 John 15:4-5
To hear the conversation with Shawn Maves about his faith journey, spiritual reasons to exercise and eat well, the use of steroids in sports, what being a bodybuilder is like and much more, check out “The Sweat Room: Sports and Faith” episode 51.
“The Sweat Room: Sports and Faith” is a podcast based out of Hamburg, New York, that was started in May of 2020 to discuss faith and its intersection with sports. Noah Corsten and Bjorn Webb co-host the podcast, interviewing both past and current athletes and coaches about how faith plays a role in their life. “The Sweat Room” is a part of Watermark Wesleyan Church’s Sports & Fitness Ministry. The podcast can be found on the website, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and wherever you stream your podcasts.