Friday, August 29, 2008

The Earth is the Lord's

Throughout this summer I have been thinking about a scripture which Percival Palmer of Caribbean Sport Reach (Jamaica) quotes often when speaking with people about faith and sport. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” (KJV) Percival’s point is that the whole world, including sport and the people of sport, are clearly in God’s view and a matter for His care.

Most of the people in the sport world live in total denial of the Lord’s dominion or in total rebellion toward Him. Sadly, many people in the world of sport who have a relationship with Christ seem to put it on the shelf when they walk onto the court, pitch, track or field. They have forgotten the truth of Psalm 24:1. The earth, everything in it and all those who dwell in it are the Lord’s.

It is our task to proclaim this truth to Christian and not-yet-believers as well. The denial of Christ’s rule in the world of sport, particularly among believers in Jesus, is a major source of the worst parts of sport. It distresses us when we hear of Christian players who have used performance enhancing drugs, have taken shortcuts around training rules, have taken unfair advantage of their opponents or display boorish character on the field of competition. We must remind people of this truth and its implications for their lives in sport.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Opportunities to Serve

This week’s notes come again from a conversation with some other sport chaplains in the USA. Thanks Josh Gilreath, Chette Williams, Derrick Moore and Wes Yeary for this discussion.

These moments are opportunities to serve:
1. When the coach initiates conversation with me.
2. When the coach asks questions about spiritual matters.
3. When the coach or his family has a crisis of any sort.
4. When the coach expresses a need or dissatisfaction with some facet of his life.
5. When the coach has a player with a problem.
6. When the coach has a new opportunity and needs counsel.
7. When the coach is feeling pressure.
8. When the coach encounters success.
9. When the coach attends chapel, carries a Bible, reads a book with a spiritual message, speaks of his church, etc…
10. When the coach raises an objection to someone’s way of doing Christian ministry.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Servant Attitude

In a conversation with some other sport chaplains, we were discussing the primacy of servant-leadership for our role in ministry. It may seem like a backward way of discussing this, but we made a list of items which can destroy such a servant’s attitude.

1. Asking for free tickets, sideline passes, etc.
2. Going places on the field or court where you haven’t been invited.
3. Walking into offices, locker rooms, etc. without express permission.
4. Expecting to travel with the team or other such privileges.
5. Asking for team gear.
6. Any such presumption of privilege or access.
7. Using your position to gain prominence or profile in the community.
8. Using your position to raise funds from those whom you’re serving.

Let’s be wise and avoid these behaviors which betray a selfish heart. Thanks Josh Gilreath, Chette Williams, Derrick Moore and Wes Yeary for this discussion.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Heart of a Servant

Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? James 2:2-4
Have you ever noticed that there are a lot more people who want to be a chaplain at the Olympics than to the local sports team. At first reading many of us would say that we would never distinguish between people in the way James described. Are you sure that the prophet Nathan is not waiting outside to say, "You are the man"? (2 Samuel 12:7).
Even when we serve, our motives are not always pure. Let us be honest, it is more fun to be a chaplain to an Olympian than to a club player. But in God's eyes the two are equal. Some of us are called to be Olympic chaplains, others to serve at the local level. The motivation is the same – to show God’s unconditional love to sportspeople who need Jesus.
Jesus cares as much for the player who is not in the starting line-up, who is injured, who has not had his contract renewed as he does for the millionaire superstar. Our ministry to the two should be the same. The chaplain who also spends time with the youth team players, the reserve team players, the admin staff is likely to be more respected than the player who just spends time with the first team.
Stuart Weir
Verité Sport

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Invest in Coaches and Support Staff

After fourteen years of ministry in sport, I am more convinced than ever that investing in the coaches and support staff is a key component to a chaplain’s or mentor’s effective ministry. If one only concentrates on the competitors, one can miss some insight the coaches, trainers (physios), equipment managers, and such may have about the player and his or her needs. These people are often with teams for a long time and could help you weather the changes that come in the world of sport.

Here are some ideas for building and maintaining such relationships:
· Learn their names and call them by name when you see them on the field, pitch or court.
· Occasionally drop them a call, email, or card to express your thanks or to tell them that you’ve observed their good work.
· Encourage them when you see them doing well.
· Give them hope when you see them failing.
· Ask good questions about their work and their perceptions about the players you serve.
· Care for their families.
· Share books, web sites, articles, etc. which can be helpful to them.
· Serve these people by offering to help carry something, to drive them somewhere, anything which they need and you can provide.
· Be with them, love and serve them in times of crisis.
· Pray for them, their needs and pray with them if the opportunity arises. Nothing communicates compassion and the presence of Christ more than praying with another.