Guest post by Jason Miller
He shoots…He scores!!!
As my son walks towards the other team’s goalie to shake his hand, I feel a sense of pride. A father cannot deny how good it feels to watch his son do something spectacular. Not only did he score a goal but he also honored the goalie for making an excellent attempt at saving a shot. It’s a rule, that when a player scores a goal that he/she should shake the hand of the opposing team’s goalie. However, Alijah did that without being reminded. That was cool. I wasn’t only feeling proud of Alijah though. I was so proud of my team. They gave their very best and it happened to result in a goal.
The world teaches us that winning is what determines our self-worth. Instead of healthy competition, where kids are learning “how to win” and “how to lose,” and being refined because of the lessons learned from both, they’re learning that losing is unacceptable and will ultimately make them a loser and the only way to “be somebody” is to win…many times at all cost!
Unfortunately, what happens many times is that ministry teaches us to do the opposite. We want to be so different than “those other places” that we shy away from anything competitive. We make our leagues more about fun than competing. We make our athletic environment look more like a spiritual shelter than a battlefield. We make our ministry more about creating a place for Christians to hang out than being the hands and feet of Jesus. We separate life, and training boys to become men and girls to become women, from athletics.
After Alijah shook the hand of the other team’s goalie my team came running over to me. That was the end of the game and as we were lining up to congratulate the other team I heard someone from my team ask, “Did we win?”
Before I could say yes I heard another player on my team say, “It doesn’t matter if we won or lost. Winning doesn’t matter. It just matters if we had fun.”
At that moment, my heart broke. After shaking hands with the other team, I huddled my team up. The same kid, who earlier asked if we won, asked that question again. Only this time, it was directed for me. I looked at him and said, “Yes.”
And in that moment I was able to speak truth into the lives of my players. That day they learned valuable life lessons about competing in such a way as to win the prize, about doing their very best and why that is important not only in playing a sport but in pleasing God, about not running aimlessly but playing with purpose, and most importantly they learned why and how they should play to win so that in the way they treat others in competition, they would not be disqualified from winning the true prize.
Does winning matter? Absolutely! It matters in this life and it matters in eternity. There are 13 different passages in The Bible that reference real sports and sports related terms. There are 9 different books of The Bible that speak about victory. The concept of winning and victory is mentioned over 50 times throughout The Bible. What would Christianity be if Christ didn’t have to defeat anything…if there was nothing to have victory over?
There is a lot to be learned from winning and losing. Eliminating winning and losing is not what we are called to do. Jesus came not to have nothing to do with the darkness. Instead, He came to save that which was lost…to bring light to the darkness…to show people the life that is possible in Christ. He has given us the game-plan on how to live as light amidst the darkness. We should be training our people how to win as light amidst the darkness.