How do we know when sports have taken over our family life? How do we know when we're sacrificing our families for the sake of pouring into the athletic development of one or more of our children? How can we strike a balance for the sake of our kids? We've only to look to scripture to determine that.
Luke 2:52 says, "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." This verse shows us the ideal. It gives us an understanding of what a well-rounded child should look like. Jesus grew intellectually, physically, spiritually, and socially. There you have it! The measuring stick has been revealed.
That day I spent in Kansas, I left wondering how many of us would spend the same sort of dedication pouring into the spiritual development of our children? Would we sacrifice finances, talents, and most importantly, time so that our kids could grow deeper in love with Jesus?
The problem (as I see it)
1) We are training kids that it's all about them. The entire premise of developing an athlete is to train ourselves to become "better" or to dominate others in an area. We focus too much upon "I". The focus is taken off of who we are as people, but rather, how we can perform. For the most part, sporting events elevate the athlete (or his/her parents), strengthening the pride and ego of the athlete. Doesn't this go against everything that Jesus said we are to be?
2) We focus more energy upon the physical development of our athletes than we do upon the spiritual, social, or intellectual. As in all areas of life, you can't place more emphasis upon one area and expect to maintain balance. Kids need balance in our homes.
3) The "sports is god" mentality is robbing our families of peace. God designed our homes to be places of peace. A place where we can recharge and reconnect with those in our lives who matter most. When we run each weekend or are shuttling kids to and from practice each week, we are placing our family life on the back burner. I am sure you've heard the argument that "this is what we do as a family". I am all in favor of devoted family time, but how is this defining what quality family time should look?
4) Oftentimes, sports is the focus of one child and another is left out. We've all seen families where one child excels at something and the others are drug along simply because it's what the family does to "spend time together."
5) Parents egos become driving force behind the "love" of the sport. Who doesn't like it when someone chooses your child to play on a travel league or are selected for an "all stars" team? We all like to have people notice that our kids are good at something. What an ego stroke it is when your kids are picked as better than someone else's. Parents then sacrifice time, money, and anything else to see that their kids are number one. If this means joining more leagues, so be it.
Tony Dungy says "You see, most people around you have taken sports out of perspective and made it the "end all" of your life's focus." He goes on to say, "Too many parents get caught up in this mindset (that a child's life purpose is to develop as an athlete), thinking that their five-year old or ten-year-old is on a path to make it to professional sports and somehow that goal is going to bring ultimate fulfillment. It's just not true. " ("The Jersey Effect", p. 136)
Has the "sports is god" mentality affected your ministry?
To be continued.....