What I Tell My Kids About Sports

I am continually reminding myself that I am a Christian before all things. I am also trying to teach my kids to live that way too. So when we are involved in sports I try to use those as teaching tools for their life of faith. Below is a list of lessons I am learning and trying to teach them about sports.

1. If you don’t play, know that others are getting a chance that might need or deserve more playing time.

2. If calls don’t go your way, don’t complain, just keep playing. Referees will make mistakes like all people.

3. Stop making excuses about poor play and own up to your mistakes. (Don’t blame others either). The heart of Christianity begins by saying I am not perfect.

4. Don’t whine when things do not go your way. Just play harder on the next play.

5. Be nice to the other team. They are people with feelings just like you.

6. Don’t assume the worst in the other people, they are just a team trying their best to win. And they will make mistakes just like you do.

7. Keep your mouth shut unless you have something helpful to say. Your Christian witness is more important than winning a game.

8. Everyone has a bad day. Do not plan on being a star in every game or you will be greatly disappointed. Just do your best and God knows your heart.

9. If you don’t get awards, know that another kid might have needed the encouragement more. You know your parents love and support you, many kids do not have that at home and need it from somewhere.

10. Plan on sticking around and helping out. God’s people are servants. Picking up trash after a game is not beneath you.

All of these ideas underscore to me the need to honor God in our words and actions. I have seen numerous people forget that they are Christians when it comes to sports, especially children’s sports. Yes, I know I am as guilty as anyone. I am not trying just to teach my kids to be game winners on the field but off the field.

Final Chapter

Last night we had the final practice of our Pop Warner football season. This Sunday we have the final two games. This has been a difficult and trying season. This is also my final season as President of the local organization. So I am closing the final chapter on my season and my leadership. This has me reflecting on endings.

Endings are wonderful for the people completing their job. Let no one kid you about this. It might be tough to end something, but there is always an amazing sense of relief. I am so glad my responsibilities are over and my life can head in a new direction. There is great joy when things are at an end.

Endings are more difficult for the people left behind. There is this sense of uneasiness when someone steps out of a particular role. Who will fill the role they left? Will they do a good job? Will I be happy with this replacement? I know that there is a group who will never notice the difference in another person leaving, but some people will feel it.

This idea has me thinking about death and heaven. I have a Church member who is on his final few weeks. Every time I go and visit with him I get this real sense that he is ready for life to be over. He is ready for the suffering to be over. He is ready to move on to heaven. The people who are the most sad about him facing the end are family and friends.

All of that lead me to this thought – When someone we know is leaving (whether they are quitting, moving or even dying) perhaps we should take a less selfish view and celebrate with that person. I know that is easier said than done, but as I finish my time as leader and Charlie finishes his time on earth I think we both would appreciate more joy over the times we have had together.

Always Learning

The past couple weeks have been a blur. I have been working at the Church building trying to write sermons and lessons like normal, but every moment after has been filled. We have helped “Feed the Kids” in our local community, I have visited a few people in the hospital, I have been visiting several people from Church over lunch and I have crammed in the last few weeks of youth football with my family.

I am not complaining about being busy, it just means I have to re-prioritize my life for that period of time to get everything accomplished. For me this is a process that is always a learning experience. For example, I love watching professional football and especially my beloved Packers. But lately, the games are watched after being DVR’d and then I watch them while fast-forwarding through every break and sometimes on a constant “forward 1” speed. Then if the score gets too lopsided I just shut it off and check ESPN.com for the final score. Lately I have all but given up professional football in order to do things for God, my Church and my family.

My point is this: We often have to give up something we enjoy so that we can do something better

I know a pastor friend who refuses to do anything on Facebook because it takes too much time. I know of numerous people who have given up TV so that they can be outdoors for their activity, plus spend more time with family. I know another guy who refuses to read Blogs because he wants to read deeper theological books instead. Anyone who achieves anything in life for God has to give up something they might enjoy. Every great and Godly family is the result of saying “no” more than “yes.”

So what have you given up lately for the sake of something better?

What if that was your job?

Seth Godin on his blog had a post entitled: “What if Surfing Was Your Job”

He writes:

“Same waves, different day.

The risk of skin cancer. The falling. Sand in your socks. The people hassling you for your spot on the wave. The pressure to do more sets. The other guys at the beach who don’t appreciate your style. The drudgery of doing it again tomorrow, when the weather sucks. And then every day, from now on, never-ceasing.

Where would you go on vacation?

Your drudgery is another person’s delight. It’s only a job if you treat it that way. The privilege to do our work, to be in control of the promises we make and the things we build, is something worth cherishing.”

This might be true of many aspects of your life and not just your job. Something to ponder.

Back to Church Sunday

A few years ago Outreach Marketing starting promoting that the Sunday that is one or two weeks after Labor Day is “Back to Church Sunday.” Their research showed that people often start skipping Church in the summer and once the labor day holiday is over they often start returning. In an effort to help this process along they designed a “big day” campaign called “Back to Church Sunday.”
Outreach Marketing’s website says that over 21,000 Churches have signed up to participate. Well, I did not sign up formally, but I think going back to Church this Sunday is great. In fact, I think going back to Church any Sunday is a great idea.

Let me give you three reasons I think going back to Church this Sunday is a good idea:

1. You need Christian relationships in your life. All of us need people to speak truth and grace into our lives.

2. You need a place to learn about God. There is no other place that I know of that is wrestling with significant and eternal issues every week. Each week Churches speak about love, marriage, parenting, heaven, change, and dozens of other big issues. Churches can challenge and encourage and strengthen you no matter what you are going through.

3. You need a place that promotes grace and second chances. The essential message of the Church is about forgiveness, mercy and grace that are found in Jesus Christ. You are not just trying to forget or even do better next time, instead the message is that you can have a clean slate before God and a chance to do it right with His help.

Yes, the Church is full of messed up people and not everything is perfect. Honestly, no organization on planet earth is even close to perfect. But the Church is the only place that tries its best to consistently give you the three things above. Maybe you should go this Sunday for the first time or maybe you should go back to Church. Either way, just go!