What I Tell My Kids After a Game as a Christian Parent

Recently a friend asked me if I had written a post about what I say to my children after they have participated in a sporting event. While I have written on similar topics, I have never addressed this thoroughly. This I probably best because my words have changed through the years. Walking through sports with four boys and being down to my last year and a half of their participation has changed me. My views are different than 15 years ago when we started into youth sports. As a long-time sports parent and a Christian, here is what I say after the game.

  1. Did you have fun? Somewhere along the way, sports became something serious. Listen, it is a game. It is meant to be fun. If it is not fun, you should not participate.
  2. How do you feel? This is a two-fold question. First, how do they feel physically? When you take sports too seriously, your child will not tell you about their physical pain for fear of missing a game and disappointing you. Second, how are they emotionally? Coaches, teammates, and fans can be brutal with their words. Ask and let them share.
  3. Tell me about your favorite play. My kids have lost games by 50 points and still had fun. This is because there was that one play where they did that one thing, and it made them happy. They want to tell you about their joy.
  4. Did the coaches tell you anything on which to work? Do you feel there is anything you need to do better? This will often allow them to talk about their worst play. Coach says I need to do blank better is often inspired by their most embarrassing moment. Get it out into the open and talk about it. Acknowledge the mistake so that they can move on with their life.
  5. I Love You. I want my kids to know how I feel about them, no matter the outcome of the game. If they made the mistake that led to the other team winning, who cares? It is youth sports. My relationship with them will last long into the future when these games are barely a memory.

These are the most basic things I talk to my children about after a game. Sometimes all of these come up naturally and occasionally just two or three of them. These are the topics that always guide my conversations. I have quit trying to offer coaching advice unless asked. I might share insight into something I saw, again, only if asked. I keep stats at games so they can evaluate themselves on facts and not emotions. These days I always try to stay positive, win or lose.

One final word for all parents: I plead with you to not take sports too seriously. I have raised four incredibly gifted athletes, and three of them spoke with colleges about scholarships. It is a complete scam that colleges are running. They are not what you think. Unless your kid is an incredible physical specimen that is one of the top three players in your state, their scholarship opportunities are worthless. It will be a few thousand dollars for a way overpriced private school. I guarantee it will not be worth the money you spend, the time lost, and the headaches you endure for all those weekends of travel sports. Those events are offered to make money off you. You MUST understand this is true to enjoy this time with your children.

I pray you will allow your kids to enjoy this part of their life should they chose to play sports. I hope my words are an encouragement to you. May the Lord bless you as you live for him while raising teens in today’s highly competitive world.

The Message of Transformation

Recently I was reading through the book of Acts, and I noticed something I had missed in previous trips through it. Quite often I have spoken about the message of the early Church. Acts 4:20 says that the Apostles spoke about what they had “seen and heard.” This is a critical line. The Apostles did not travel around talking about what they believed; rather, they spoke about what they believed happened. Their sermons were lessons about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, of which they were witnesses.

For the first time, I noticed a different statement in Act 5:20. The New International Version of the Bible 2011 says, “tell people all about this new life.” Other translations say something like “tell them the whole message about this life.” It appears in the original Greek is “speak all the words of this life.” So, there is a little unclarity on how exactly to translate it accurately, but the critical thing to notice is the topic of their preaching in this story.

Peter and his companions are told by an angel to go and speak to the people. This time their words will not be only about the death and resurrection of Jesus, although I am sure they talked about that topic too; instead, it will focus on the life transformation of those who follow him.

One of the vital messages of the Christian faith is that following Jesus should be life transformative. It is not merely a call to believe in the historical events of his death, resurrection, and ascension, although those are intricate to salvation. The gospel contains within it a primary appeal to have your life radically changed as you follow Jesus.

This has almost limitless points of application for us. Those who call themselves Christians will be more loving, forgiving, encouraging, humble, compassionate, kind, gentle, and self-controlled. They will serve, give, and work for the good of God’s kingdom and not their own. Someone who believes that Jesus came, lived, died, was buried, and resurrected on the third day will attempt to live like Jesus every day in every way.

The Apostles are told to stand up and tell others about this new life. It should be a part of the message of the gospel. We do not just have a Savior, but that Savior wants to transform our lives. We should speak about it just like they did in Acts chapter 5.

What I know is your most powerful testimony to this truth will not be your words but your life. It is one thing to speak of the difference Jesus can make in your life and quite another to show it to others by your actions. Actions will always speak louder than words. Everything you do will show people what you really believe about Jesus. May your message this week be that Jesus has the power to offer us a new and better life. I pray your days are transformed by his grace.

Weekend Reading

Here are some of the best articles I have read over the past three weeks. Enjoy.

6 Members Who Build Up the Church – True. Very true

Does Your Church Offer Weak Community? – Something I have been saying for years and trying to find a remedy to it.

Reactions to John Crist’s Moral Failings Demonstrate Our Culture’s Confusion about Christianity

Eight reasons why introverts make great leaders – Yes and Yes.

Why Your Pastor Doesn’t Have Friends

What is the Trajectory of Your Life?

Trajectory is defined as the direction an object takes under a given set of forces. We usually think of trajectory when it comes to missiles, bullets, and arrows. It is an equally good word to use in a discussion of your life. What is the trajectory your life is taking under the current forces working on it?

  1. What is the trajectory of your faith? If you keep doing when you are doing right now, where will your faith end up in 10, 20, or 30 years? Will you have made a more significant impact on the world for God or be less of a factor? Will you be following Jesus more closely or be further away?
  2. What is the trajectory of your marriage? If you are to continue living with your spouse the same way you do today, where will your marriage be in the future? Will you be more deeply committed or divorced?
  3. What is the trajectory of your parenting? Will you have well-behaved Christ-followers who bring honor to their God and their parents in the future? Will you have children whom you must bail out of situations as they are only concerned for themselves?

Maybe these are not the most applicable to you, so you will need to fill in your own area. It can be your relationships with your parents, friends, coworkers, or anyone significant.

Where is your life headed? What path are you on in your faith, relationships, and every other area?

We tend to lie to ourselves and create some fictitious barriers. We tell ourselves that when the kids get past the toddler phase, everything will be better. When the children are no longer teens, everything will improve. We think that when we have more time, more money and are finally able to retire, life will be beautiful. Then we get there, and it is not what we thought.

Those factors are not what is keeping you from a closer walk with God, an intimate marriage or fantastic relationships. What is keeping you from those things are the decisions you make every day. You don’t wake up one day with deep faith; you make decisions day after day to move closer to your goal. You don’t magically have a great marriage when the kids are gone. It is the result of the work you do to talk, communicate, and connect now. Your relationship with your kids doesn’t improve the day they reach a certain age. It is the result of little deposits of time today, tomorrow, and every day into the future.

Your life is either on track to hit your goals or miss them. The coordinates are set. Your life is flying that direction. Are you happy with the ultimate destination? If not, today could be the first day of the life of which you have always dreamed. Make the adjustments necessary and change the trajectory before you hit your mark.

Put Grandma’s Bible on the Shelf

While I was growing up, my parents would put out Christmas decorations each year. One of those beloved decorations was an old black leather Bible with gold trim. It was placed on the coffee table and opened to the book of Luke. I don’t remember my parents ever explicitly saying, “Don’t touch it,” but it certainly was implied.

That image marked my life for many years. I believed the Bible was the sacred book that we needed to handle with white gloves and a delicate hand. This type of thinking was underlined by a Sunday School teacher that I admired telling us that she never let any other book or object lay on top of her Bible. Slowly this sort of idolatrous image of the Bible came to stand at the forefront of my mind.

I am not the only one who feels this way. Through the years, I have had numerous people come to me and say, “I have a Bible that is falling apart. What should I do with it?” When I mention the possibility of throwing it in the trash, they prepare to call their friends and burn me at the stake. The idea of throwing away a Bible is sacrilegious at best and pure evil at worst.

Recently I overheard a person in the congregation I lead say something like this, “I would never mark in my Bible, because it was a gift from my grandmother, and is just too special.” While I appreciate the sentiment, this is not actually a good thing. Your view of the Bible as a book might be keeping you from growing spiritually.

My suggestion to people is to take a lesser view of the printed pages of the Bible. In the realm of paper and ink, it is just a book. It can be used, marked up, written in, highlighted, and even thrown away. If those concepts scare you, then my response is along this line, “Do you love it as a book or the content of the book?” If you love the content, you will read it and know it; otherwise, you are falling for a Christian idolatry of valuing paper and ink over the knowledge of God.

Take grandma’s Bible and put it on the shelf. Then go to the store or amazon and buy a cheaply printed, easy to read translation of the Bible (something like ESV, NIV, NKJV, or NASB). Then dive into the pages with reckless abandon. Underline things that speak to you, highlight common themes, write on the page margins, and do whatever else makes the pages come alive. Then when you are finished, throw it away and start the process over.

I started this practice five years ago at the prompting of a college professor. He bought Bibles by the box and would read and highlight different topics, noticing the kingdom of God or all the parables or whatever he chose to focus on that time through. When he finished, the old one was thrown away, and the process started again. I have never known a man who knew his Bible more. He carried a five-dollar Bible and cared little about its paper or ink. He focused on understanding its content.

Perhaps one of the greatest things you can do on your spiritual journey it to think less of the Bible as a grand religious book and more as God’s love letter made available for you to read.

When the Apostle Paul Left Town

I cannot imagine the feelings associated with helping the Apostle Paul load his donkey and leave town after he had led you to the Lord and started your new Church. He came into your village, began teaching people about Jesus as the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. He gave in-depth lectures about the resurrection. His words were the most profound thing you had ever heard. You believed in Jesus and made Him your Lord and Savior. Then Paul connected you to other believers who were now a part of this group called The Way or Christians in some parts of the world. You never felt so alive in your soul.

The book of Acts and the letters of Paul describe a man who spoke profound words of faith, taught with incredible insight, and was full of the Holy Spirit. He had a deep love for the people he shared his message with, at times treating them like a caring parent. He built Churches, developed leaders, and created communities that would be a light into the dark world of the Roman empire. He was not afraid to say the hard things, willing to be persecuted, and endured hardships with a smile the only comes through a sincere faith. Wherever Paul went, the power of Jesus was present.

Then one day, he would load up and move to another town. He would leave behind one of his lesser companions like Timothy or Titus to carry on the work. Let’s be honest, they are good people, but they are no Paul. The worship, the lessons, the events, and the programs will never be the same. Is it even worth getting up to go on Sunday? The people seem divided now, and everyone wonders how they are going to replace Paul?

How did the early Church cope with the loss of Paul as their Church leader?

After years of leadership in the Church, I have come to one significant conclusion about these new believers in Jesus found in those first Churches. Here it is, are you ready? Those new believers placed their faith entirely in the Lord Jesus. They did not put the hope of their newfound faith in Paul. He was merely a messenger and leader. The foundation of all they believed was built on Jesus.

As a result of this trust in Jesus alone, they could have different leaders and keep their faith. They could still attend Church because it was a community of Jesus. They could keep growing in their faith because Jesus did not leave them; only Paul did.

Paul was a great man and a fearless leader. I have known several great men like him over the years. They preach dynamic sermons, lead growing communities of faith and made a significant impact on the world. Here is the thing, none of them are worth worshipping. None.

Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the most celebrated preacher but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock we must stand. Faith in all other people is sinking sand.

The Lord Be Praised

There is something about repeated responses that can catch drive home a particular way of thinking. My parents taught me to say, “please,” if I wanted something and “thank you” if I received something. These words created in me a sense of kindness, respect, and appreciation. As an adult, I have been to Chick-Fil-A a few hundred times, and it still causes me to pause when I say, “thank you,” and the employees respond with “my pleasure.”

Well, lately, I have been using a phrase repeatedly, and it is blessing my soul. When someone compliments me about my work in the Church for the Lord, I respond with, “The Lord be praised.” I know it might seem simplistic and fake to some, but it has two purposes that are being fulfilled in my life.

  1. I want to point people to Jesus. When I simply say thank you, it feels as if I am getting the glory. I want to make sure that my one goal in life is for God to get the glory. In case anyone forgets, I offer a short statement to remind them.
  2. It keeps me humble. When someone says, “Good job teaching” or “You are a blessing,” it is easy for me to get a big head. Maybe that is because of a lifelong struggle with pride, or perhaps it is just human nature, but kind words easily go to my head. I quickly think, “That’s right; I am a great person.”

I know this little statement I have added to my life will not be noticed by many, but it is shaping my thinking and hopefully will influence someone. I am glad people like my ministry and think I have good things to contribute to the world, but I want you to know, “The Lord be praised.”