Teaching Our Kids to Honor God in Everything . . . Even Sports
A while back, I shared a post on social media about being excited to watch my boys play basketball, a game they love. A comment left beneath the photo caught me off guard, and I have been thinking about it ever since. Now before I share this comment, let me assure you that I have NO hard feelings toward the person who posted it. I value them and appreciate the respectful manner in which it was shared. There was no hint of ill-intent or nastiness. It was a simple comment with a simple question. One that I feel compelled to answer here, with the opportunity for a longer explanation. Here's the comment:
Why do our people spend so much time on sports??? Nothing about it glorifies God???
The first question I get. You can devote an enormous amount of time to sports: practices, leagues, tournaments, traveling. It can be a lot. Before signing our kids up for any activity, my husband and I consider the time commitment it will require of the whole family. We try to keep it manageable, but I am well aware that sports can easily and quickly overwhelm a calendar.
But it’s the second part of the comment that has been floating around in my mind since reading it that night: Nothing about it glorifies God.
I’m afraid I can’t agree with that.
Do all sports glorify God? No. Do all athletes (professional, amateur, or youth) glorify God? No.
But I do believe that sports are valuable and can be a way in which God is glorified.
When I drop one of my kids off at practice, I often call after them as they climb out the door, “Work hard, have fun, be coachable.” I want them to model a behavior and have an attitude that honors God in everything they do, including sports. Working hard, finding joy in life, and submitting to authority are all behaviors and attitudes that honor God.
Many nights as we pray, we thank God for coaches and teammates. We also ask God to help our kids bring Him glory in the way they play.
Watching sports on TV, we talk about how some athletes honor God in the way they react on the court and field. We listen to postgame interviews and take note of the way many college and professional athletes praise God and give Him credit for their skills and abilities.
And so, I can’t help but want to defend sports as an opportunity to honor and bring glory to God.
I’m reminded of Paul’s words to the Colossians, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). I often see these words in action on the courts and fields of sports.
When a group of kids rallies around a teammate who has been injured, I see the love of Christ.
When an opposing player reaches down for the hand of his rival to help him up, I see him loving his “enemy.”
When a player shows up practice after practice and works hard without complaint though she never hears her name called in the starting lineup, I see perseverance and a dedication to something bigger than herself.
When I see a calm, respectful response to an official’s mistake, I see the other cheek turned.
When I see the managers on the sidelines handing out water and taking care of all the unseen things, I see the servant kind of love Jesus modeled.
When I see an interview after a game and hear the players thank God for the skills they have been given, I am reminded of God as creator and see Him glorified.
Our ability to honor God isn’t limited to the confines of church pews, the mission field, or ministry platforms.
Our ability (and responsibility) to honor God can be found in ALL situations, in every moment of every day.
We aren’t raising our kids to become the next Michael Jordan or Serena Williams. But we are raising them to be men and women who honor God in all they do. And for some of them, that starts with sports.