Below is a guest post from Ryan Kendall:
“There are many thoughts that go through a Christian athlete or coach’s mind during competition. I can remember many times after losses as a coach, I felt about as low as any time in my life. I can also remember the first college game I coached and how nervous I was, not knowing what to expect from my team…from our opponents…even myself. Often times, our focus is on things we can’t control or things that, in the long run, don’t matter.
This was the first year my 6th grade daughter had the opportunity to run track. Now, I’ve coached track for several years so I have a great interest in it, but I was never any good at it. In fact, I only ran track one year. That’s right, it only took me one season to realize my gifts were in other areas. My wife on the other hand, ran track in high school and was good enough to garner a track scholarship to college. With these facts in mind, my hope was that my daughter took more after her mother in this area than she did after me.
Soon after her first race, I was surprised to see how much she took after her mom. She surprised us all with her ability and even more, her drive. Turns out, she’s a very tough runner.
I was able to go to most of her meets and talk with her before her race as well as run back and forth on the field as she ran, offering her encouragement and any other tidbits that might be helpful.
She had a goal time in mind after her second race. She made progress during the season, but by the last meet of the year, she hadn’t achieved it yet. While she was warming up, we talked about the race. We talked about how much she enjoyed this race, how much better she had gotten during the course of the season, and even some strategy for the race.
As the start of her race neared we talked about what a gift her ability to run is. I talked to her about where she got that gift. I reminded her that God had given her the ability to run and it is our calling to glorify God with the gifts he gives us.
As I watched her run, I was reminded about the gifts God has given me. I was challenged by my own words to her. As a coach, I had often focused solely on my team and what I was doing as a coach while my focus needed to be on God’s provision for myself and my team.
As you compete or coach, always remember you are using the gifts and talents God has given you and it is true worship to glorify him with those gifts. Although there are many important questions to ask yourself before and during competition, one very important question to ask is, “Am I bringing glory to God with the gifts he has given me?”
I encourage you to focus on this for yourself and to encourage those athletes you have an impact on to do the same.”