I’m a competitive person. It was ingrained in me from a very young age to always strive for the best especially when it comes to sports. One definition of a competitive person that I identify with is this:
If you’re competitive, you want to be the best. No one likes to lose, but if you are a competitive person, it will be especially disappointing to see someone else win.
If I’m honest, I think pretty highly of myself when it comes to sports and I definitely don’t like to lose (does anyone??) but the last part is what I find interesting. For a competitive person, the most difficult part to accept is that someone else beat you and is better than you. This is what really doesn’t sit well with us competitive types. Even just typing that puts a sour taste in my mouth. If I look back on all the teams I played on many years ago, do any of those wins mean anything to me now? Not even a little bit. However, at the time, it felt like the entire world would end if we didn’t win that one game. I remember thinking the other team was our enemy and that they MUST be defeated. All is good when we won but losing was a very different story. I would shut down and get so mad at myself and go over all of the mistakes I made over and over in my head. I would think about my teammates and how if maybe some of them were better we could have won.
It’s easy to look back on that now and think how silly that is, but I recently started playing baseball again in our Reach Forth leagues and it’s amazing how all of those emotions and feelings can come rushing back. I had very high hopes not just for my team, but for me. I was going to be the best on my team! I went out a few times and practiced with my husband to make sure my skills were still on point. But none of that mattered. Our team was one the worst in our division. I remember after losing a game, I would get in the car with my husband and pout and start doing the same things I used to do after a loss. I’d talk about all the bad plays I made, then start talking about all the bad plays he made and then things would just spiral down from there. At some point during the season, I can remember God saying to me “Where do I fit into all of this?” I wasn’t really sure how to answer that. “Um, well God we share a devotional at the end so like that’s enough right?” No! That is SO not enough. I had never really considered how I could combine my faith with sports, what that meant, and definitely not what it looked like. As God continued to challenge me in this area, my attitude very slowly started to change. I became more aware of my actions on the field towards my team. My actions towards the other team. Soon enough I was able to stop looking at the other team as my enemy and even compliment them if they made a good play. Why? Because I was realising that it is more important to be Christ-like no matter what I’m doing than to win a baseball game.
I’m nowhere near perfect, but I can say for certain that I enjoy this way of playing far more than the alternative. Not just because my attitude has changed for the better, but because I am able to truly understand the heart of sports ministry. It isn’t about the devotionals that we are sharing although those are excellent reminders for us who are already Christians. Sports ministry is about your heart and attitude on the field. About BEING Christ not just to your team, but to everyone! So I want to offer you the same challenge He offered me: Where does God fit in your game? He might be setting you up for a big play but you aren’t looking His way. Keep your eyes on Him so you can make the play.
‘So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life-your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life-and place it before God as an offering.’
Romans 12:1-2 MSG