During the recent F.C.A. Sports Chaplain conference in Kansas City, Missouri (USA), a number of my colleagues who are rather new to their service asked a lot of questions about the process of beginning to serve. Certainly everyone’s place of service is different and the circumstances vary widely, but below is an attempt at a list of things one should do in his or her first thirty days of service. I hope it’s helpful.
In your first 30 days of serving as a sports chaplain or character coach, I recommend that you:
• Thank God daily for the opportunity and privilege you have.• Thank the coaches and/or ministry staff that opened the door to you.
• Get an appointment with the head coach to discuss details for your service. (Preferences, timing, things to be sure to do, things to be sure to avoid...)
• Attend practices, speaking to everyone who gives you eye contact. Introduce yourself, but don't use a title to describe your role. It will get around.
• Memorize the team roster by name, uniform number, position, and home town. All are important.
• Arrange to meet personally with anyone to responds to your initial contacts to build relationships and to seek ways to serve them.
• If on a college campus, meet the NCAA compliance officer, introduce yourself, ask how he/she would like you to communicate about opportunities with and for student-athletes. Make this person an ally, not an enemy.
• Pray for the coaches, competitors, and support staff you are serving.
• Learn to see the faces, to hear the voices, and to feel the experiences of those you serve in your devotional reading, in your moments of contemplation and prayer, and as you travel to and from sporting venues.
• Journal your interactions with those you serve from preseason through postseason. Save the journals for reading in annual preparation prior to new seasons.
• Set your heart to serve at all times.
• Set your heart to love in all circumstances.
• Prepare to stride joyfully into the next 30 days.