Can Sports Help My Child Grow in Christlikeness?
I spent much of my childhood playing sports. I enjoyed the competition, comradery and challenge that came with playing. Of all the sports I played, baseball occupied most of my time as I played competitively from the age of 10 to my university days. But the questions I ask myself looking back are: Did I waste my time doing this when I could have been learning more about the Bible? Should I let my kids play as much as I did? Are there any lasting benefits to playing aside from exercise? Should we spend less time at school playing sports and more time studying?
I had these types of questions floating around in the back of my head awhile ago when I ran into an article in the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary newspaper by Randy Stinson titled 5 Ways Sports Can Disciple Your Child. My aim over the next few months is to look at these 5 ways in light of what we are doing here at PCS and what you are doing at home, to make playing sports an intentional time of biblical training for our kids.
Obeying authority is the first way that Stinson says can be used for discipling our kids. The idea of obeying authority is mentioned often in the Bible. In Romans 13, God tells us to submit to governing authorities and in Ephesians 6, children are told to obey their parents. When we sign our kids up for sports or let them try out at school, we are placing them under new authorities that they will have to obey, namely coaches and referees. Coaches and refs make many decisions every game, some good and some bad. Coaches make strategic decisions for offense and defense and sometimes that includes benching your child. Refs make judgment calls on every play and sometimes that can upset your child. Stinson points out, “Very often, these fallible people get the call wrong. It is important for our children to realize we must learn how to submit to imperfect authorities and to know God will use the unfair call, favoritism, or just plain negligent people to shape us into the image of Christ.”
When we see something negative happen in the game, we need to model Christ by not yelling from the stands. We also need to take note of these moments and use them to disciple our child’s heart. “These are perfect opportunities to teach your child how to submit and learn obedience even when they disagree with the one giving them instruction.”
God is the ultimate authority and we need to obey to Him. He created all things, including sports, so let’s be intentional and use them for his glory. Next time we will be looking at the second way Stinson talks about, ‘practicing self-sacrifice’.