Friday, May 30, 2008

Hungry Players

I was recently in the Central American country of Honduras. While there I met a number of men who compete in fast pitch softball in the two largest cities of the country. They are hungry, even desperate to compete.

Their fast pitch softball looks a lot like what I played in the 1970s and 80s. It’s mostly played by men in their twenties, thirties and forties who do it because they love the game. Their facilities are generally poor; their bases aren’t even tied down. They wear mismatched uniforms and play with whatever equipment they can afford. The holes created by the pitchers’ plant feet become vast craters of dust and inhibit their pitching efficiency. The batters’ boxes become deeper and wider by the inning.

The lack of training for pitchers and umpires keeps the game from progressing and their lack of time to practice limits their performance level. In spite of all this, they play their hearts out and sacrifice greatly to compete.

So what’s the point? They are hungry. They will sacrifice to play the game because they love it. Convenience and personal privilege are not a part of the equation. Their hunger to compete overrides every inconvenience, missing piece of equipment, and lack of facility.

How hungry are you to compete? Does everything have to be perfect for you to perform well? Are you put off by inconveniences, less-than-the-best facilities or poor attendance at your games? Develop a sense of genuine hunger for competition and experience the sweet fulfillment which comes from playing your heart out.

Friday, May 23, 2008

This is the web site for the Serving the People of Sport Council, of the International Sport Coalition. It is a world-wide network of people and ministries who work directly with people in sport. They describe their Vision and Mission in this way:

Definitions and purpose
Purpose: We serve the sportsperson with unconditional love, helping them to grow to whole life maturity in Christ by:
helping the sportsperson to see sport and faith as integral parts of their lives;
walking with the people of sport in loving, nurturing and mentoring relationships;
releasing the people of sport into God’s authentic call on their lives;
Long term goal
Our long term goal is to:
Cultivate whole life ministry to the people of sport in each sport, in each country and people group worldwide.
Nurture a worldwide network to strategize, to resource and to serve the total wellness of the people of sport for transformation of their lives, their sport and their communities.
Encourage integration of faith in sport by developing broader training and materials addressing the spiritual issues of sport people in sport and life.
Help the church to understand how to minister to the heart of the sportsperson.
To present sportspeople mature in Christ, equipped to demonstrate their spiritual walk in sport and life.
The People of Sport
We define the people of sport as those who see the world and themselves primarily through their experiences as performance-based sports people. This is a mindset, which is not based on age, gender or current competence in sport
For those familiar with the Sport in Ministry map [devised by Lowrie McCown], the target group is quadrants 2 and 4.
The people of sport, therefore, includes sports players, coaches, officials and administrators and other sport professionals who are part of the world of sport. The sportsperson’s family members are also included.
“Serving” the people of sport means:
Establishing long-term relationships that put the needs of the people of sport ahead of the desires and agendas of those sports ministries and their organizations who work with them.
Modeling God’s unconditional love for the people of sport so that they learn to base their self-worth on Christ’s performance on the cross, not on their current performance in sport or in their spiritual activities.
Nurturing such a love for Christ among the people of sport that they grow into the full stature of Christ and their lifestyle reflects his Lordship in all areas of their personality and performance.
Walking with them through all the experiences of sport so that they encounter Christ in the world of sport and develop a biblical world view of it.
Helping them with the practical needs they have to fulfil, their obligations and opportunities in the world of sport.
Releasing them into the ministry God has called them in serving Jesus in the church, in sport, and in the world at large.

This site has a wealth of information, insights and a growing set of resources which could be of help to you and your developing ministry with people of sport. The resources page has materials in 9 languages, even English! Check it out.

Friday, May 16, 2008

High Profile Teammates

In a recent conversation with a former Major League pitcher, I asked him about one of his high profile teammates. The teammate was one of the greatest players in the history of the game, but has come under tremendous scrutiny in the last several years. He has been regularly accused of cheating the game, of being rather boorish toward the media and quite aloof from his teammates.

I was intrigued by the pitcher’s comment that he found him to be a great teammate. He said that what he valued was that the other player always showed up on game day. He was the guy he wanted in left field every time he pitched and he wanted that guy hitting third in the line up. In short, that teammate helped him win games. In addition, he said that when the game was over, all the media went to the high profile teammate’s locker rather than his. The pitcher was more than glad to have all that attention go to someone else.

Some of this high profile player’s youngest teammates were jealous of the media attention, extra space in the locker room and distance from team stretching and the like. This veteran pitcher would tell them to relax and to value the high profile player for his contribution to the team while the game was on.

As you compete, be mindful of your high profile teammates and the special set of pressures, responsibilities and inconveniences which they experience day to day. Be like this veteran pitcher and give them some space to be just a little different. Gauge their value to the team while the game is in progress and be thankful when they take some of the media’s spotlight off of you when you are at less than your best. Play your heart out and you may find yourself as the high profile teammate who is of great value to your lesser achieving teammates.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Why Compete?

Do you ever get a little frustrated with people who don’t want to keep score? I have friends who want to go play golf, but not keep score. I don’t want to play with those guys. I tell them, “Just go to the driving range and don’t clutter up the golf course.” What’s the point in playing the game if you don’t compete?

So what’s the big deal with competition? Is it, as some think, for one to show his superiority over another? For some this is probably true. For most of us however, the point is to test ourselves. That’s exactly the point in golf, as each one is competing primarily against the course. It is a test of one’s skills, not just a competition with one’s opponent.

How does competition test us? Let’s make a brief list:
· Competition tests us physically – technique, talent and fitness.
· Competition tests us mentally – focus, knowledge and insight.
· Competition tests us spiritually – self-control, faith and love.

Why compete? To compete well is to test oneself against an ascending scale of standards of achievement. This list of standards is borrowed from Dr. Jim Rimmer of Erie, Pennsylvania.
· Competing against the elements of the sport. (Fundamentals)
· Competing against one’s opponent. (To beat that person or team)
· Competing against an objective standard. (Statistics)
· Competing against one’s personal best. (Personal records)
· Competing to a mental image. (Like a video of the sport’s best)
· Competing “in the zone.” (Being in the flow)

Competition tests us in ways that move us beyond mediocrity and it challenges us to become all we are capable of being. Don’t let the test intimidate you, rather step up, play your heart out and feel the satisfaction of having done your level best in pursuit of an honorable victory. Win or lose, you have made progress in the life-long process of developing as a complete person.

Friday, May 2, 2008


This week I would like to feature some web sites which have Resources you can download and use. Most if not all of these are free of cost. The list of resources includes:
§ Brochures which explain Chaplain Ministry
§ Outlines for chapel meetings
§ Outlines for chapel talks
§ Descriptions of Serving the People of Sport ministries in various languages
§ Bible Studies for discussions with coaches
§ Bible Studies for discussions with players/athletes
§ Information and an application for Major Event Sport Chaplaincy
§ Tools to facilitate prayer among coaches and/or competitors
§ Complete books and articles related to the Theology of Sport
§ More….. Stuart Weir from Oxford, England has loaded this site with tremendous resources including his books, “What the Book Says About Sport” and “Born to Play.” This site is a treasure. This is the Free Download page from the Serving the People of Sport Council of the International Sport Coalition. It contains a number of resources in various languages. More will be added as further translation is done. This is the Resources page from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Chaplain Ministry web site. It contains a number of resources and you are welcome to contribute to this site if you would like. Simply email your resource to me and I’ll prepare it for uploading to the site.

Have a tremendous week of dynamic ministry and I pray these resources are valuable to you.