Here is an excellent post from Helen Logan, a faithful Christian mom, reflecting on intentionally using sports as a tool in discipling her children. Moms, you can purchase your copy of In the Arena: The Promise of Sports for Christian Discipleship right here.
From almost the moment I knew I was pregnant with our first child until now, the most pressing desire of my heart has been (and always will be) that our boys would be passionate Christ followers who make a mark in their sphere of influence for the kingdom of God, that they would live a life of worshipful obedience to King Jesus with all of their hearts, souls and minds and that their passion would cause others to desire the same. That they would be actively engaged “In the Arena,” so to speak.
Ok, ok, there were times that I really just wanted them to “do what I said without whining or arguing” but most of the time I was able to keep my eye on the real prize.
Fast forward (and I really mean FAST forward) 21 years, and I am so overwhelmed and grateful, even to tears many times, by the fruit the Lord has grown in the 3 young men we call sons! It has been filled with ups and downs, failures and victories (and I am certain it will continue to be) but it has been an amazing journey so far. I have no doubt that our family’s experiences in the world of sports have been a major shaping force in the life and character of the Logan boys!
Thankfully, we love sports! From the moment those chubby fingers could grip a ball Trey, Ty and Wil were all hooked – and so was this mommy. I have chased an incalculable number of balls, played catch almost daily, and even been hit in the head by a couple of fast balls. And I count it all a great privilege.
Precious memories have strengthened our family identity through many adventures such as cheering for our beloved college and professional teams, backyard football and baseball games, countless hours on the family basketball court, and so much more.
Add to those precious memories the myriad of organized sporting events that our boys have participated in themselves, and you have a small window into why we Logan’s believe that sports are sweet blessings from a generous God.
Participation in sports is filled with lessons just waiting to be learned if parents are intentional in finding and pointing out these lesson. Shepherding, growing, training, shaping and equipping…these are the words that come to mind when I think of what it means to parent and these principles are rooted in the very nature of athletics.
Hard work, diligence (do not give up / quitting is not an option), tough choices, giving up of self, giving 100% effort, encouraging others, winning with humility, losing with grace, submitting to authority (even when it feels unfair), recognition and appreciation for talents/gifts from the Lord, stewardship of those gifts, how to resist making idols, opportunities to learn how to be a light in a dark world, dealing with rejection are just the tip of the likely hundreds of character training moments.
In the midst of a list of so many lessons it is difficult to flesh them all out in just a few paragraphs so I am going to mention one of the “biggies” for the Logan family.
“Your worth is not in the outcome of your performance!” We used sports to remind our boys that their worth is in the fact that they are created in the image of God and their identity in Christ, in the character they display before a watching world. We helped them see if their worth was in performance then when they were excelling in victory that pride would rise up and when they failed they would be continually discouraged.
There have been different levels of achievement along the way, sometimes making the team, sometimes not, sometimes receiving lots of playing time, sometimes sitting the bench, sometimes driving in the go ahead run in the top of the last inning – only to make an error that loses the game in the bottom. I remember one son saying to me, “I didn’t know I could go from feeling so good to feeling so bad that quickly!”
We have experienced incredible victories, including a couple of state titles, and teary-eyed defeats, where nothing had been held back …they gave their all and still fell short. Always with the Colossian 3:23 mindset: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.”
Each one of these opportunities made a mark on them and gave us the chance to watch our boys become men before our very eyes.