Wednesday, October 27, 2010


After a week of being out of touch (little Internet access in Cuba) I’m ready to share some thoughts about another of the essential qualities for a Sport Chaplain or Sport Mentor. This week – Discernment“the trait of judging wisely and objectively.”

For decades I have heard people say things like, “Don’t judge him. Don’t be too quick to make judgments. We’re in no position to judge.” However, every day we desperately need the trait of judging wisely and objectively in order to serve the people of sport well.

We need discernment to decide if something is genuine or artificial? Was that a genuine or artificial apology to his teammates? Is that coach being genuine or artificial in his statements about matters of faith?

Is this course of action being proposed wise or foolish? A discerning person can see the end result well before it arrives. He or she can help avoid the consequences of a poor decision by asking good questions or reframing the discussion with insight.

Is this person an ally or an enemy? A discerning person can see through the smoke screens of deception, flattery and inflated resumes. A person of discernment can be of tremendous value to an organization in the recruiting, hiring and development process.

Is he or she real or simply posing? Discernment helps us see the true nature of a person more clearly. The discerning person can see through the posing of the player who says what he thinks the coach wants to hear. She can hear the conviction and purity of heart of a young lady whose motivations are pure.

Should we commit to this decision or wait for a while? Pull the trigger or no? Move or stay? Hire or not? Fire this person or be patient with him? The discerning of heart seem to have an intuitive sense of timing and then confidence with their decisions, long before the fruit of the decision is visible to everyone else.

If you are a person of discernment serving as a Sport Chaplain or Sport Mentor, you are of immeasurable value. When asked for your thoughts on a matter requiring discernment, share your thoughts freely and confidently. If they ask your opinion, you are free to share the wisdom God has given you. It’s precisely because you are trusted and are perceived to be discerning that the question is asked. Ask the Lord Jesus for an extra measure of discernment and then employ it well in serving the people of sport as they make important decisions.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Today we’ll consider another of the essential qualities for effective service as a sports chaplain or mentor. Confidence is a most important characteristic for such service as we live in a culture of people who vacillate between arrogance and humiliation depending upon their last performance. In either case, we must act confidently to be of value to their growing lives in sport and faith.

We need confidence when we walk into uncomfortable situations. If we’re well prepared and confident in our training we can step into the coach’s office after a crushing defeat knowing we can serve the team well. To be of assistance with questions related to discipline of a player or staff member. To help our charges deal with illness, disease, injury and even death requires a confidence which is born of a liberated heart, a pure conscience and a humble attitude.

Confidence is important to help us know where we fit. If we’re in a sport setting and confidence wells up within us, we feel like we fit in here, we relax and we’re free to be our best.

Confidence is a byproduct of our being genuine in our roles with the players, coaches, teams and support staff. They perceive that we’re not playing a role. We’re not pretending or posing as those who say they want to serve, but are secretly just seeking access to the players and “off limits” areas.

Confidence is indispensable when we walk into hospital rooms where the coach is receiving chemotherapy. It’s of immeasurable value when we step into the uncertain world of the emergency room. We’re immediately perceived to have it or to be lacking it when we step onto the field, pitch, floor, ice or the court.

Let’s build our confidence upon the unchanging nature of Christ’s love, grace and mercy toward us. Let’s find it more in our Lord’s calling upon or lives than in our background, experience, education or affiliations. Let a genuine confidence grow in your heart, show on your countenance and flow from your mouth as you extravagantly love the men and women of sport.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Another of the important qualities for sports chaplains and sports mentors is a sense of Timing. The ability to be at the right place at just the right time is both serendipitous and strategic. We can stumble onto such timing on occasion, but we should also choose the times and locations which best facilitate our ministries with coaches and competitors.

One should know when to speak and when to keep quiet. Nothing is as annoying as the person who can’t be quiet when the moment requires silence and reflection.

“Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise;

When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.” Proverbs 17:28

One should think carefully about when to be present with the team. For your sport, is it more advantageous to attend practice or competitions? Is it better to be with people prior to or after a contest? Is your presence more helpful after losses or victories? There are surely some situations which better lend themselves to conversation and open hearts.

“Oil and perfume make the heart glad,

So a man's counsel is sweet to his friend.” Proverbs 27:9

One should know when to leave people alone. Some people really want to be alone after wins, others after losses. Some value privacy in pre-game preparations while others are very social. Some of us can really get on the nerves of those we seek to serve simply because they feel smothered by our presence at the wrong time.

“Do not forsake your own friend or your father's friend,

And do not go to your brother's house in the day of your calamity;

Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother far away.” Proverbs 27:10

One can make a tremendous impact upon people when we say the right thing at just the right time. When you hear encouragement, challenge, affirmation or direction in your heart for the player or coach and you deliver it in the appropriate moment, it is immeasurably valuable.

“Like apples of gold in settings of silver

Is a word spoken in right circumstances.” Proverbs 25:11

Let’s consider the when and where of our ministries. Let’s plan wisely to be present in the most advantageous places and times to serve well. Let’s also be willing to act on a hunch, an intuitive thought or to answer a random request to visit a player, to hang out with a coach or to show up at the training room, hospital or funeral. We may find our timing is perfect and we’re speaking words of life to starving souls.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Today we will consider another in the long list of necessary traits for sports chaplains and sports mentors – Compassion. It can be defined this way: “Compassion is a human emotion prompted by the pain of others. More vigorous than empathy, the feeling commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another's suffering.”

The Bible is full of expressions of our Lord’s compassion and this one is among my favorites:

Psalm 103:13-14 (New International Version)

13 "As a father has compassion on his children,

so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

14 for he knows how we are formed,

he remembers that we are dust."

We who serve the men and women of sport must be conscious of each one’s background and the factors which have brought him or her to this place. Many are from homes with poor parents, no parents and at least ½ in the USA come from broken families. We must be mindful of from what they are made – as the Lord is aware that we are made from dust.

We must treat our work with them as a long-term process and not think that we can solve all of life’s issues with one simple prayer, a ritual or with a skillful talk. It may have taken 20 years for the knots in the person’s heart to be tied, it may take a while to untie those knots of sin and brokenness.

We must also exercise compassion with coaches, administrators and other adults in the system. Let’s be mindful of the pressures, the weight of decisions, the constantly changing factors and the relational dynamics which result in their reactions to people or situations. Many of these people are just as fragile in heart as they youngest players they lead. These adults just have more powerful positions and a more mature appearance.

Let’s purpose in our hearts to practice compassion as an essential part of our ministries. Let’s remember how the people of sport are formed, knowing that they are made of dust, as are we. Let’s care deeply for them and thus wisely reflect our Lord’s heart toward those who revere Him.