Developing Disciples or Division 1 Athletes?

74 Million High School Athletes

Today, there are some 74 million high school athletes in the United States. Many of them aspire to compete in Division 1 athletics, and some hope to one day play professional sports. These dreams are noble, admirable, and with hard work, obtainable.

However, the gap between those high school athletes who aspire to compete in college and those who are actually given the ticket to compete is significant. According to the NCAA,

More than 460,000 NCAA student-atheltes – more than ever before – compete in 24 college sports every year.

While the college athletic environment is growing, the reality is that less than 1% of all high school student-athletes will compete at the NCAA level. From here fewer than 2% of NCAA student-athletes go on to enjoy professional athletic careers.

A Christian Perspective in a Highly Competitive Context

The modern athletic setting is a reflection of the highly competitive nature of modern society. Which begs the question, how should a Christian parent, whose children compete in sports, approach the competitive context of sports?

As a Christian, father, and high school coach, I am wrestling with this reality. My two young boys show promising athletic signs, and as a former athlete, I am attracted to the possibility that with the right training my boys might also be in the elite 1% of high school athletes. However, as a Follower of Christ, I must not only check my own ambitions but consider whether my goal should be to develop Division 1 athletes or disciples?

As much good as the athletic setting has to offer, I am convinced that my greatest responsibility as a Christian parent is to point my sons to something that will outlast a career in sports or any other career for that matter. My greatest responsibility is to disciple my boys and lead them into a lasting relationship with Jesus.

Disciples vs. Division 1 Athletes

This relationship will become the foundation on which a successful life – whether in sports or elsewhere – is built. Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor of Village Church, offers similar advice to parents who are seeking to understand the role sports should play in their child’s life.

 

References:

NCAA Recruiting Facts. (2018, September 26). Retrieved from https://www.ncaa.org/sites/default/files/Recruiting%20Fact%20Sheet%20WEB.pdf

NCAA Student-Athletes. (2018, September 26). Retrieved from http://www.ncaa.org/student-athletes

Awaken Your Prayer Life

What Do You Pray About?

Not long ago I heard someone ask me,

If God were to answer all your prayers right now, would it impact anyone else expect you?

Wow. There’s certainly nothing wrong with bringing our personal requests to God, but if that’s all we pray about we should probably take another look at the true purpose of prayer.

I love the way Martin Luther, the great reformer, framed prayer:

Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance. It is laying hold of His willingness.

Luther had the right perspective on prayer. God is not opposed to answering prayer. God answers prayer all the time. We just need to gain His perspective.

A Perspective on Prayer

I heard someone once describe prayer like this:

If the request is wrong, God says, “No.” If the timing is wrong, God says, “Slow.” If you are wrong, God says, “Grow.” But if the request is right, the timing is right, and you are right, God says, “Go!”

Experiencing the power of prayer is one of the greatest encouragements Christians because it reminds us that prayer works and it should direct our adoration and thanksgiving to God. This is what the Apostle Paul was talking about in his letter to the Colossians when he wrote:

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col. 3:17)

Unanswered Prayers

We may not always receive the answers we’re looking for. When I was a child, each night at bedtime I used to pray and ask God not to make me too tall because it wouldn’t be good for my soccer career. I’m glad God didn’t answer that prayer because I ended up becoming a basketball player.

The Prayers Kids Pray

Luckily God doesn’t always answer our prayers in the way we’d hoped, but I’m sure He enjoys hearing the things we pray for. Here are a few of my favorite “Dear God” prayers by kids:

Dear God, if you watch me in church on Sunday, I’ll show you my new shoes.

Dear God, please take care of my family and take care of yourself, if anything happens to you, we’re going to be in a big mess.

Dear God, I want to be just like my daddy when I grow up, just not as hairy.

Hearing children pray can be pretty funny, but what makes a child’s prayer different from anything else is its childlike purity. They are simple, honest, and trusting. They are expectant and full of faith. A child’s prayer cuts to the heart of the matter and doesn’t question the feasibility of the miraculous. As far as a child is concerned miracles are as natural for God as eating ice-cream is for them.

A Perspective on Prayer

If you’ve lost the childlike faith from your prayer-life or if it’s been a while since you prayed, consider this perspective on prayer. It can help you awaken your prayer life.

Prayer is our privilege

As Believers, we have direct access to God’s throne of grace. Choosing not to utilize this privilege is like owning a mansion in Monte Carlo but choosing instead to sleep on the lawn outside. The home is yours – enjoy it with its privileges! Likewise, prayer is our privilege! God desires that we enter in and engage him in prayer.

Prayer is a partnership with God

 

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, Jesus told them, when you pray, say this, “Our Father, who is in heaven…” (Luke 11:2, NIV). Right from the beginning, we are told that prayer is a partnership. We are praying to our Father in Heaven. Prayer is an alliance. In prayer we enter into a partnership in which we are aligning ourselves with God’s ongoing activity on earth:

“Your kingdom come; Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. (Luke 11:2)

A partnership also implies that we have a relationship in place with God. Relationships work best when good communication takes place. Good communication must include speaking and listening. Listening to God in prayer creates a God-shaped heart within us, it’s where God-sized perspective is gained, and it is where God-sized dreams are born. Neglecting to pray is the undoing of our partnership with God and the demise of our spiritual life.

Prayer is a discipline

Corrie ten Boom, who put her life on the line to save Jews during the Nazi Holocaust, spoke of prayer in these terms:

Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.

Prayer is a powerful discipline.

The Challenge

Make prayer a priority. Pray with your spouse. Pray with kids and grandkids. Pray when you’re alone. Pray when you’re with friends. Pray often. Pray in all circumstances. Pray without ceasing. Pray and don’t give up. Pray with joy. Pray prayers of thanksgiving. Pray prayers of faith. Pray, pray, pray. Make prayer a priority in your life. Luther put it best:

I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.

Make prayer your lifestyle. Make it your lifeline and watch your spiritual life awaken.