In a recent conversation with a local sports reporter I was asked the question, “After sixteen years of serving as a sports chaplain, why do you still do it?” I had not thought about this before, but replied, “Because it’s dynamic. It changes all the time.” I am usually more of a short-term project oriented person rather than long-term. For me to stay at anything for sixteen weeks is rare, let alone sixteen years. I have given more thought to the dynamic nature of sports chaplaincy and some of those thoughts follow.
In a university setting like mine, there is constant turnover in players. One fourth of the team leaves and another fourth comes in every year. There is a new opponent at least once a week, often twice. In sixteen years we have worked with four different coaching staffs in American Football and five staffs in Women’s Basketball. We’ve also gained and then lost our relationship with Women’s Volleyball, have recently gained a relationship with Men’s Basketball and have a growing presence with Women’s Softball. These things change constantly; some for the better and some for the worse.
Each week there are new problems to solve, there are new crises to meet, new questions to answer, new injuries to be healed, new hearts to love, minds to challenge, souls to inspire and new Christ-followers to mentor.
In addition, as each year unfolds my own life changes dynamically. When I began in this role I was thirty-eight years old and the father of a seventeen year old son. A few years later, Sharon and I were empty nesters. A little later we became in-laws and now I’m a prospective grandfather with responsibilities for aging parents and in-laws.
I believe that these daily, monthly, seasonal and annual changes keep this ministry from becoming routine, formulaic and mundane. By staying relationally oriented rather that programmatic, this ministry keeps my heart, mind and body fully engaged, challenged and reliant upon the Lord’s provision. Please join me in maintaining a relational approach and thereby experiencing the Lord Jesus’ best in dynamic ministry with the people of sport.