One of the misunderstood elements of ministry in sport is the value, or lack of it, sport has in and of itself. Many of us in sports ministry believe sport has value only as it is used as a tool for ministry. Others of us, myself included, see value in sport in its own right. I would assert that sport has intrinsic value, as does any other created thing. Its value is either enhanced or diminished by those who use it.
“I am quite sure I would not be who I am today had I not played sports my Senior year of high school.
It seems dripping with hyperbole even to write it, but I believe it to be true.
In football, I learned that when I don’t work hard, I let the team down. It was a lesson I learned too late to help my mediocre football career or to add much value to my good football team, but a lesson that impacted my adult life. Any team I am on is better if I work hard to contribute and when I don’t work hard, I let the team down; not just myself.
Running high hurdles in the spring was the first thing to which I truly dedicated myself and I had a great deal of success. This success gave me confidence that if I do the right things, the right way; I can expect the right results in the right time. It put an idea in my head that I could be really good at something and that was worth working toward.
That epiphany changed everything.
As many Seniors look at the possibility of a year without sports, I am truly sad for them.
Much of my “real” education came on a grass and dirt football field and on an oval cinder track; for better or for worse.”
Reverend Shane is fond of saying his seminary education prepared him very well for a world that no longer exists. It seems the lessons he learned from playing high school football and running hurdles have an enduring quality that continues to serve him into his fifties. Shane’s note resonated with me and many others as we also recognize all that we have learned from our experiences in sport, things we could never have learned in a book, a classroom, or a video.
Let’s lean into the value of all we experience in sport, some of it will be painful, other times it will be full of joy and fulfillment. Let’s look for the Lord Jesus to lead us through all of it in the process of growth and development of our lives in Him.