Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Don't Waste Your Sports

I have been trying to give some serious thought to what it means to have kids in sports these days. It is so different from when I was a kid, at least it seems like it from this side of the perspective. Here is the reason why I am thinking about my kids in sports right now. Here is our weekly schedule the past four weeks and will continue for the rest of May.
  • Monday Nights--Karsten Baseball from 6:30-8:00 pm
  • Tuesday Nights--JT Baseball from 6:30-8:00 pm
  • Wednesday Nights--Karsten Soccer from 6:00-7:00 pm
  • Thursday Nights--Karsten Baseball & Anni Tball from 6:30-8:00 pm (different fields of course)
  • Friday Nights--JT Baseball from 6:30-8:00 pm
  • Saturday Mornings--Karsten Soccer from 10:30-11:30 am & Anni Tball from 10:00-12:00 pm.
Get the point? This is just flat out crazy. Soccer will end at the end of May, but then baseball goes for another two months. Last night, we had another game rained out. It was the second this week. So, I took the opportunity to have the family sit down and watch a short DVD by C. J. Mahaney called "Don't Waste Your Sports."

The initial question that Mahaney asks is "what will keep us from turning sport from something beautiful into something ugly." We all know what something ugly looks like. We have seen or read the stories of parents that go so far as hurt other kids so their child can succeed. He begins with the premise that sports, all sports is a gift from God. Now, what are we going to do with it? Are we going to rejoice and enjoy it or are we going to turn it into some form of idolatry, something ugly?

He says that before we participate in sports, we must be informed by the knowledge of God. We cannot play for God's glory if we do not know God.

The heartbeat of the message is when he gets really practical. He says that we glorify God in sports by giving thanks to God for sports. That made me think about my kids. I do not very often take time before the sporting event to pray with my kids, giving thanks to God for the weather, the ability they have been given, the opportunity, and so on. I plan on doing that for now on, before and after their sporting events. I think what this does is keeps them in a mindset that God is integrally part of this event. It is a gift God has given and when I help them see that or help them understand that, they will better be able to glorify God in it.

He also said that we glorify God in sports by displaying godly character in sports. Play the game in light of the final judgment, not the immediate circumstances. In that, we teach our children to play with humility and servanthood. I was able to ask my boys several questions about how their character is being formed as they play sports (these are questions Mahaney asks):

  • Do you accept corrections?
  • Do you know and rejoice in your limitations?
  • Are you willing to depend on your teammates?
  • Do you rejoice in the talents of your teammates, even if they are better than you? (this was a good one, particularly when I asked if they would rejoice if their brother was better at it than they were. You know, they are boys who are competitive)
  • Are you gracious in defeat?
  • Are you modest in victory?
  • Do you honor your coach? (I think I learned a lot about that. I tend to be critical of the coaches. I need to stop that because that makes my boys less likely to honor them)
  • Do you respect referees?
  • Do you give glory to God, not to yourself?
  • Will you play any position the coach assigns to you?

I think you get the point. Parents, don't let your kids waste their sports. And don't waste watching their sports. Above all, don't forget that the pull or lure of sports can conflict with church these days. Which are you going to pick? That is not meant to be a question to condemn you if you ever miss a church service. It is meant to be a question as to whether you are thinking through what that says to your child about church. Which is more important?

If you are into sports or your kids are into sports, I would recommend that you watch this message from Mahaney. You can buy the DVD or book at They also have the audio as a free download or you can watch it on the site for free.

Don't Waste Your Sports!

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