As an athlete, your whole life consists of learning the fundamentals of your sport: strength, speed, agility, hand-eye coordination, shooting, passing. As a hockey player, I found myself doing the same things playing in the NHL that I was taught growing up as a kid first learning the sport. The consistency with which the athlete executes these foundational practices differentiates between the average, the good, and the great.
Paul says to Timothy in 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NKJV), “Imitate me just as I also imitated Christ.” This principle is a familiar one to professional athletes, as we have spent our lives imitating fellow athletes. In athletics, discipleship takes place through teaching the next generation how to play the game. Those who have gone before us show us what to do and what not to do. They identify pitfalls. They help us become stronger, physically, and mentally. They teach us how to finish the race.
To an athlete, finishing strong is everything. Winning is everything. We should never paly the game just to be in the game, yet that is what we have done as Christians. Jesus gives us this great game plan in Matthew 28 to go and make disciples, but somehow we have managed to take this ever-so-important principle out of the Christian walk. Instead, we have taught people that just being on the team is enough. It’s time we get back to imitating by making disciples.
Having spent three year of his life with twelve men, Jesus changed the world forever. One pastor spent countless hours praying teaching me how to pray; reading the Scriptures, teaching me how to read the Scriptures; loving people, teaching me how to love people. The influence of athletes is matched only by celebrities and politicians. Just as Paul was sent to the Gentiles and Peter to the Jews, there are men and women that God desires to send into the world of the athlete to disciple them in God’s ways and show them how to imitate His life for His glory!
**John Blue played hockey at the University of Minnesota, on the USA Olympic hockey team, and in the National Hockey League. Today, he serves as the lead pastor at Pacific Pointe Church in Irvine, CA.
- How can you reflect God’s light and His glory in your particular sport?
- Who has God divinely placed in your life that shares your vision for Sports? Consider meeting with them to pray for this Domain.
- Who has God placed in your life in the area of sports that you could encourage this week? Spend some time praying for them. Ask the Lord to give you opportunity to encourage them in some way.