Friday, February 22, 2013

Impactful Videos

During a recent pair of Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings for student-athletes at Southern Illinois University, we watched one video per week and then discussed what we had just seen and heard. The videos were interviews of Dr. Ben Houltberg, Assistant Professor of Counseling at Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW). The discussions concerned emotional wellbeing in athletics. They had been referred to me by our colleague and friend, Dr. Ashley Null.

I was immediately thankful for the reaction that I saw in the athletes present, mostly swimmers and divers those weeks, but was absolutely amazed at the impact the videos had upon them during the Missouri Valley Swimming and Diving Championships this past weekend.

Two swimmers in particular told me about their approach to the championships, one a senior who would swim the last races of her career during the weekend and the other, a junior freestyle swimmer. While most of their teammates were very tense, these two were loose and giggling during the warm up period and right up to race time. Their head coach was a little concerned that they were not taking things seriously enough, but those concerns were quickly dispatched as the senior swam the best 100 meter breaststroke of her career and the junior was a member of the conference champion 200 meter freestyle relay team. They had some of their best performances of the season and even of their careers.

The freedom that they are experiencing due to their growing faith in Christ and its implication upon their sense of personal worth, their identities being solidly, securely in their relationship with Christ and their approach to swimming now being an act of worship, was greatly enhanced by the videos. The contrast between the senior, relaxed and assured after the meet, was remarkable when seen beside one of her highly achieving senior teammates who was totally undone, in the throes of a serious loss of identity and life purpose as her career as a competitive swimmer was suddenly over.

I would highly recommend sharing these videos with your competitors, regardless of sport, gender or culture. Further, I would recommend that you watch it with them and then discuss some of the major points so they can process all they have seen and heard. I believe you will experience similarly beneficial results. Links to the videos on YouTube are below.


Here are some of the questions we discussed after watching the videos. I hope they are of value to you and those you serve.

Part 1 –

• Dr. Houltberg said, “The lows are lower than the highs are high.” Does that resonate with you? When do you experience that?

• He talked about “enjoying the process” when referring to training and practice. How much do you enjoy the process? How could you enjoy it more?

• He said that sometimes, “the gift becomes a burden.” When do you feel that way?

• He said that, “The gift is for you. God doesn’t need your sport performance to glorify Him.” How does that affect how you view your athletic gifts?

• Dr. Houltberg said, “Anxiety is future oriented.” How much does the unknown nature of the future and the results to come produce anxiety within you?

Part 2 –

• Dr. Houltberg mentioned that competition can become a threat to one’s social self, pulling from one’s resources. Have you experienced this?

• He mentioned a link between shame and failure in some competitors. Do you know anyone who feels failure in sport like personal shame?

• He spoke of moments in sport when fear takes over. How have you experienced fear and its effects upon your sport performance?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Ministry of Presence - Stuart Weir

Our colleague and friend from Oxford, England, Stuart Weir, has a unique ministry with athletes (Track and Field) and their coaches in the UK and beyond. Below is an email I recently received from him regarding his ministry at an event. I hope it will encourage you and even fuel your vision for how you may serve similarly. Thanks Stuart!

In addition, I would recommend that you visit his web site and follow him on twitter @stuartweir.

I spent the weekend at Sheffield at the British Athletics Indoor Championships and trials for the European championships in Sweden in March. I think you are now familiar with what I do at athletics events – a kind of ministry of presence. In advance I had identified six Christians – and 4 Oxford athletes. One other explanation. Indoor athletics is a strange beast. For some, it is very important with selection for the European champs a real ambition. For other competing indoors just breaks up the pattern of winter training.

Saturday could not have started better. With the action starting at 12, I decided to leave home at 8. Before leaving I texted an athlete saying I was around. Instant reply, “Could we meet for coffee at 11.30?” Had an hour and a half with the athlete, shared a verse and a prayer.

On to the arena where I watched the action and had a few quick conversations in the mixed zone. The highlight of the afternoon was the final of the women’s 60 metres in which there were 3 Christians that I knew of. They were all beaten by Asha Philip, coached by Christine Bowmaker. I am told that coach Christine was almost doing cartwheels afterwards! I also had a couple of conversations with athletes who were watching but not competing.

Sunday morning produced the long awaited SWM. My phone rang. A voice said “This is XXX (top athletics coach). I got your message why do you want to meet me?” I was flummoxed! Then I worked it out. I had spoken to an athlete yesterday and agreed to try to meet today. He gave me his phone number. Well actually he gave me is coach’s phone number!! I explained to a confused coach who I was and that I did not want to meet him! Emailed the athlete who said he would not be there today!

Spent the rest of Sunday watching and encouraging athletes. The highlight was when a new contact suggested that I meet her at training this week. And an Oxford athlete got an unexpected bronze.

All in all an excellent two days.


J Stuart Weir

Executive Director

Verite Sport

19 The Glebe




Thursday, February 7, 2013

Three Books of Impact

On 25 January I asked for your responses to this request – “Please list three books which have had a significant impact upon your service as a sport chaplain, character coach or sport mentor.” (Let’s assume the Bible is #1, so please list three others.) Thanks.

Below are the responses I received from all across the globe. Thank you very much for your thoughtful submissions.

From Stuart Weir of Verite’ Sport in the United Kingdom

1. “Sports Theology: Playing Inside Out” by Greg Smith, Indianapolis, IN: Dog Ear Publishing, 2010

2. “Scripture and sport psychology” by Derek de la Pena, iUniverse, New York 2004

3. “Real Joy” by J. Ashley Null, Hanssler, Germany, 2004

From Rex Stump - Buckeye Border FCA in Ohio (USA)

1. “Lead For God’s Sake” by Todd Gongwer

2. “Coming Back Stronger” by Drew Brees

3. “InsideOut Coaching” by Joe Ehrmann

From Morris M. Michalski of Athletes in Action in Ohio (USA)

(Obviously not satisfied to list just three.)

1. “Season of Life” by Jeffrey Marx

2. “InSideOut Coaching” by Joe Ehrmann

3. “Lead…for God's Sake” by Todd Gongwer

4. “Spiritual Leadership” by Oswald Sanders

5. “The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness” by Timothy Keller

6. “They Call Me Coach” by John Wooden

7. “Game Day Glory” by Athletes in Action

8. “Rules of the Red Rubber Ball” by ESPN

9. “Sacred Hoops” by Phil Jackson

10. “The Winner Within” by Pat Riley

From Mike Berg of North Dakota (USA)

1. “Wild at Heart” by John Eldridge

2. “Mr. Jones, Meet the Master” edited by Catherine Marshall

3. “I Believe” by Grant Teaff

From Tim Schneckloth of IllIowa FCA (USA)

1. “Quiet Strength” by Tony Dungy

2. “Othodoxy” by G. K. Chesterton

3. “John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success”

From Amy Gray – Former Volleyball player in Wisconsin (USA)

1. “In the Name of Jesus” by Henri Nouwen

2. Life Together” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

3. “When People are Big and God is Small” by Edward Welch

4. “Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success Playbook” by John Wooden & Jay Carty

From Mike McGreath of Southwest Michigan FCA (USA)

1. “Lead for God's Sake” by Todd

2. “Training Camp” by Jon Gordon

3. “The Mentor Leader: by Tony Dungy

4. “Wins, Losses & Lessons” by Lou Holtz

From Randy Chambers of Delaware FCA (USA)

1. “Master Plan of Evangelism” by Dr. Robert Coleman

2. “Born To Reproduce” (booklet) by Dawson Troutman

3. “Living Free” by Mike Riches

4. “Not A Fan” by Kyle Idleman

5. “Radical” by David Platt

From Richard Gamble of Sport Chaplaincy UK

1. “Being a Chaplain” by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes

2. “Footballing Lives: As Seen by Chaplains in the Beautiful Game” by Jeffrey Heskins and Matt Baker

3. “Psychology in Football: Working with Elite and Professional Players” by Mark Nesti

4. “Thank God for Football!” by Peter Lupson

5. “Linvoy Primus: Transformed” by Linvoy Primus, Peter Jeffs

6. “Sport and Spirituality: An Introduction” (Ethics and Sport) by Jim Parry, Simon Robinson, Nick Watson, Mark Nesti

7. “Theology, Ethics and Transcendence in Sports” (Routledge Research in Sport, Culture and Society) From Routledge

8. “Keeping Faith in the Team: The Football Chaplain’s Story” by Stuart Wood

9. “Open: An Autobiography” by Andre Agassi

From Fred Billings of Cypress, TX (USA)

1. “Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning

2. “Not A Fan” by Kyle Idleman

3. “Do Hard Things” by Alex & Brett Harris

4. “Wild At Heart” by John Eldridge

5. “Divine Romance” by Gene Edwards

From Fr. Brian Cavanaugh, TOR of Franciscan Univ. in Ohio (USA)

1. "The Road Less Traveled" by M. Scott Peck

2. "Virtuous Leadership" by Alexandre Havard

3. "The Mentor Leader" by Tony Dungy

From Jack Schugars of Ferris State Univ. in Michigan (USA)

1. "Sold Out" by Bill McCartney

2. "Uncommon" by Tony Dungy

3. "Bo's Lasting Lessons" by Bo Schembechler

From Mike Hansen of Calvary Church in St. Charles, MO (USA)

1. “The Servant” by Jim Hunter

2. “Leaders Who Last” by Dave Kraft

3. “What is the Gospel?” by Greg Gilbert

From Amy Hamson of Mt. Vernon, IL FCA (USA)

1. By Faith” by John Franklin

2. Any of the “First Place” Bible studies

From Dr. Ed Gomes of Liberty University (USA)

1. “Mentor Leader” by Tony Dungy

2. “An Invitation To A Journey” by Robert Mulholland

3. “Patterns” by Mel Lawrenze

From Tom Ramsay of Oregon State Football (USA)

1. “The Defining Decade” by Meg Jay

2. “Uncommon” by Tony Dungy

3. “Season of Life” by Jeffery Marx

From Chris Rich of Frederick Co. (Maryland) FCA (USA)

1. “Transforming Lives in Sport” by Roger Lipe We use this in all of our trainings and we give these out to all of the men and women we train as a resource. We have found this to be the most all-inclusive book and it is written for Character Coaches by one.

2. “Training Camp” by Jon Gordon We give this to many of our Character Coaches. This book is great because it is an easy read with great principles that apply to sport. It can ask then be used as a gift to coaches that they love.

3. “Coaching Character” by Randy Allen This book does a great job of giving the overview starting with the why and then moving through the how. It is also written by a coach.

From M. Erik Arneson of Shiloh, Illinois FCA (USA)

1. “What the Book says about Sport” by Stuart Weir

2. “Focus on Sport and Ministry” by Lowrie McCown

3. “Eric Liddell Pure Gold” a biography of Eric Liddell by David McCasland

From Bernd Breitmaier of SRS Pro Sportler (Germany)

1. “My Utmost for His h\Highest” by Oswald Chambers

2. Handouts from Lowrie McCown on how to serve sports people holistically

3. “Real Joy“ by Ashley Null

From Rich Garza of Soldiers for Faith Ministry – Co-Chaplain San Antonio Spurs (USA)

1. “The Calvary Road” by Hession

2. “The pursuit of holiness” by Jerry Bridges

3. “Experiencing God” by Henry Blackaby

From Rev. Henry Banda, National Director, Athletes In Action AIA, Malawi.

1. “Sports Outreach, Principles & Practice for a Successful Sports Ministry” by Steve Connor

2. “Into the Stadium” (an active guide to sport and recreation ministry in the local church) by Bryan Mason

3. “Recreation and sports ministry” ( Impacting postmodern culture) by John Garner.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Your Life in Sport from God's Perspective - Survey Results

Below are some of the results from the Topics/ Issues re: Your life in Sport from God’s perspective as completed by several dozen student-athletes from 14-22 years of age in high schools and Division I universities. (Southern Illinois University and Virginia Tech University)

On a sheet with 86 issues / topics, we asked them to circle ten of greatest interest to them and then to put an * by their top three issues / topics. The survey is attached if you’d like to use it for your own research locally.

Topic / Issue and number of times circled:

Consistency 18

Work Ethic 16

Leadership 16

Courage 16

Attitude 16

Commitment 16

Faith 15

Patience 15

Disappointment 15

Success 15

Perfectionism 14

Injury 14

Topic / Issue and number of *s:

Consistency 8

Success 8

Leadership 8

Patience 7

Faith 6

Perfectionism 6

Disappointment 6

Injury 6

Balance 5

Work Ethic 5

Heart 5

Playing w/ Purpose 5

Fear 5

66 issues received at least one *

8 Issues / Topics appear in both lists, hinting at their importance (they are underscored above). It would seem that those issues / topics with the greatest frequency and greatest intensity should be those we address in our ministries.

Some of these results are very interesting. The circles indicate frequency of interest in these issues. There were 86 issues on the sheet and only 2 were never circled or *ed. I believe the *s indicate intensity of interest in these issues. Note that “Consistency” is at the top of both lists. This intrigues me because I think they hear “Consistency” and think “Integrity.” I perceive that many of these young people are conflicted between who they are at FCA meetings and who they are on the field of competition, in the classroom, at home, with their friends, at church, etc… They sense the dissonance and it feels like inconsistency.

The only two issues on the sheet with exactly 0 circles or *s were: “Performance-enhancing drugs” and “Kindness.” That either means they’re not issues for them, that they already know what God thinks about them or that they don’t want to know what God thinks about them.