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Despite what I said during the intro, Truth.Love.Parent. is an organization dedicated to glorifying God by equipping dads and moms to be the intentional, premeditated, disciple-making, Ambassador Parents God called and created them to be.
My name is Aaron Michael Brewster. My wife is Johanna, I have a son named Micah, and my daughter is Ivy. We all live and work at Victory Academy for Boys where we minister to at-risk teens and their families.
My life is consumed with parenting. But, then again, technically all of ours are regardless of how many kids you have. And — believe it or not — your life should be consumed with parenting even if you don’t have kids. What do I mean? Well, when you look at the Biblical data concerning parenting you learn that every other facet of the Christian life is nearly identical.
Regardless of the relationship, regardless of the venue, God has called us to speak the Truth in love to all people. Yes, that will look a little different with our kids than it will with our coworkers, but the most important element of all of our relationships is identical though the applications may be slightly different.
Therefore, parenting and discipleship and counseling and general one-anothering in the body of Christ are basically the exact same thing.
I believe that’s why there’s a number of our listeners who aren’t even parents, and some of you aren’t even married yet. I believe this is the case because this podcast is not about the best baby wipes or potty training or how to develop a good bedtime routine.
This podcast is consumed with seeing how all of the Bible’s Truth can be applied to our parenting. And — in the process — the goal is for that Truth to change us before it’s ever used by God to change our kids.
So, really, this podcast is more about us, the adults, being conformed to the image of Christ. And as we’re transformed into His image, God desires to use us to introduce our children and friends and acquaintances and strangers to Him and assist them in being transformed to His image as well.
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Alright, last thing before we jump into the show, you should check out the free episode notes we post on our blog at TruthLoveParent.com. There you’ll find episode notes and a complete transcript of the show.
Okay, so I really like doing episodes like today’s. “How to mess up sports in your family.” It’s kind of like some of our other episodes — “Training Your Children to Rebel” from episode 43 or “Parenting like Lot” in episode 214 are good examples.
Sometimes it’s just helpful to look at it from the other side.
When we list all the positive elements of parenting, it’s easy to see them in our parenting even if they’re not there that often. In the same way, when we list the negative elements of parenting, it’s much easier to see them in our homes as well.
So, he we go . . . if we really want to, how can we mess up sports in our families?
I Corinthians 10:31 is a big part of my Parenting Bible. “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
That “whatever you do” encompasses absolutely everything in our lives, including the sports your kids play and the games you watch.
That means that careful observers should be able see God glorified in our choices. That means that onlookers should have a higher view of God because they witnessed our family playing sports.
I know that’s a huge responsibility, and it runs counter to everything that human beings want to be . . . especially in sports. The sports culture around the world is made up of two main philosophies:
Most athletes have their now glory or their team’s glory as their highest goal. They’re not really interested in the spectators and fans thinking about anything else other than how well they’re doing.
That is going to complicate things for the Christian. In fact, that mentality is going to make it very easy to mess up sports in our families.
And I believe we’ve all seen families who have done sports the wrong way.
Now, we’re going to look at some of those ways, but first I want to justify why I believe those ways don’t please the Lord. And — to do so — we’re going to look at Matthew 22:37-40, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Now, I know this is a very familiar passage, but this is the beauty of Scripture. It can be applied to every circumstance and experience in life.
So, with that as the justification that my advice is guaranteed to help you mess up sports in your family . . . let’s begin.
1. Love sports more than you love God.
If you really want to screw up how your family glorifies God, all you have to do is submit to the demands of sports more than you submit to the expectations of God.
You can easily communicate to your kids that sports are more important by doing the following:
Each of these subconsciously communicates to your kids that there is something more important than what they’re learning in Sunday School and the morning service.
Any and all of these will help your house fail to glorify God even as you succeed at sports.
2. Love your team more than you love God.
There are many ways to do this, but here are just a few:
A. Don’t share the gospel with your teammates.
B. Allow the content of your interactions with them to be about things that God hates.
You can do this by encouraging them to do things that displease God: Encourage them to skip corporate worship to play the game or practice. Do your part to stroke their egos and engender a destroy-the-other-team mentality in them. Get angry with them when they don’t perform well. Engage in conversations about the sinful thoughts and behavior of the culture.
Whatever you do, don’t be a shining light and salty-salt, and don’t illustrate for them what it means to be a follower of Christ.
But there’s another side of this as well. Your kids likely don’t just play sports, they also watch them. When you’re so loyal to your team that you’re willing to bad-mouth other teams and the people who cheer for them, you’re guaranteed to fail to please God.
To the degree that you love your team more than you love God, you’ll not only fail to glorify God in your family’s sports, you’ll also fail to glorify Him with the great commission.
3. Love winning more than you love God.
The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart. I once had a teacher who wisely said that the biggest idol of your heart is the thing that — when it’s taken away from you — you can’t be happy.
Teach your children that they can’t be happy when you lose. Teach them that loss is unacceptable. Teach them that they should be willing to do whatever it takes — including disobeying God’s clear commands — to win.
We can also communicate this when we make doing well in sports necessary to getting into the right school or having a successful future.
We’re telling them that getting what you want — aka: winning — is more important that following God’s plan for their lives.
This is easier to do than you might think. Since humanity is wired by sin to look to their own interests over others, sports are a perfect way to teach your kids that true happiness only comes when you get what you want.
Just be sure that you push them to achieve their dreams even if that means they have to sidestep the Bible.
And basically, all of this boils down to this . . .
4. Love yourself more than you love God.
If you want to guarantee that God is not glorified by how your family interacts with sports, then offer sports on the altar to self instead of the altar to God.
We discuss this principle in great detail in our “Family Worship” series. By the way, all of the episodes and series I reference during the show can be accessed in the description of the episode along with the show notes.
Anyway, in the Family Worship series we discuss the nature of sin and how it’s like offering a sacrifice on an altar. That would be a great follow-up to today’s discussion.
Of course, we learned in “The Four Family Loves” and “Friends” series that when we encourage people to disobey God, it’s not because we love them, it’s because we hate them. Love is wanting and working toward God’s best interest in the life of another. Hate is doing that which is going to hurt them.
So, I guess I could say that if you want to mess up sports in your family, all you have to do is hate everyone in your life.
The unfortunate reality is that Satan and our sinful hearts are so deceitful that while we are actually doing hateful things for our kids . . . we believe we’re loving them.
There’s not a single Christian parent who believes they’re going to destroy their child by pursuing sports the way they do. But that doesn’t mean it’s true.
Proverbs 12:15 reads, "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes.”
Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 both tell us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”
That’s why we need to be honest with ourselves by studying God’s Word and legitimately comparing it to our lives. This is also why it’s super important to have Christ-honoring friends who can lovingly help us see the holes in our sanctification.
Do you want to mess up sports in your family?
Love sports more than you love God, love your team more than you love God, love winning more than you love God, and love yourself more than you love God.
And this should be super easy because we can do all of those things without even thinking about it or realizing that we’re doing it.
But what if we took Matthew 22:37-40 seriously, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Does that mean our families wouldn’t play sports?
Not at all. It means that instead of offering sports on the altar to self, we’re offer them on the altar to God.
So, what does that look like?
1. We need to sacrifice ourselves to God.
Romans 12:1, ‘I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
This obviously extends far beyond just sports. But since we’re talking about participating in athletics, let’s get more specific.
2. We need to sacrifice our winning to God.
Proverbs 21:31, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.”
I used to be super annoyed when I didn’t win. I used to get angry. I ruined some relationships and had plenty of people who didn’t want to compete with me in any way.
I was delusional in many ways:
God is the sovereign Lord of the universe Who promises to only do those things that are best for us when we submit to Him. He Who let His own Son be murdered to purchase our salvation truly knows what’s best.
You shouldn’t have to win. You shouldn’t be teaching your kids that they need to win. You shouldn’t be expecting your teams to win.
We need to love God and work toward His purposes. We need to be content and joyful and loving and thankful and at peace no matter whether our teams win or not.
Now, does that excuse doing our best? No. We should definitely prepare the horse for battle, but we need to trust that God will have His will be known.
You should teach your children to do their best and trust God for the rest.
3. We need to sacrifice our team to God.
John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
We need to help our kids be prepared to be thought uncool in order to truly love their teammates. They should be prepared to genuinely love the kids on their teams both on and off the field, not participate in an unholy conversation or activity that would displease the Lord.
But, in addition to that, what would it communicate to your kids — let alone the other team — if at the big game you brought cookies for your child’s team and the other team? What if your star quarterback and you both delivered the cookies to the rival’s locker room?
God has a lot to say about loving your enemies and doing good to those who treat us poorly. If we’re really going to love God with all our hearts, then we need to be willing to sacrifice our culture’s way of doing things in order to please Him.
4. We need to sacrifice our sports to God.
I Corinthians 10:31, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
My friends, I say this because I love you — please stop substituting games for God. I know you can share a lot of legitimate-sounding reasons for the value of skipping church from time to time let your kid play.
For example: “The coach won’t let them start in any game if they aren’t going to show up for every game.”
What’s more important to you? Teaching your children to sacrifice God, His Word, and His people for a temporal earthly game, or sacrificing the temporal earthly game for God, His Word, and His people?
I know you know the right answer. But I also know that you’re tempted to believe that your kid won’t have a successful future unless they play well on this winning team, and in order to do that, they have to be at every game even if that means that half of the games occur on Sunday.
But you have to acknowledge that you’re teaching your kids about priorities. What else in the future is going to be important enough to substitute for God? They will be able to legitimize skipping church because they have to do well in their college courses. They’ll excuse not doing their devotions because they need to spend time before work with their significant other if they hope to have a deeper relationship with them in the future. They’ll ignore the supremacy of God’s will in their lives because their parents taught them that what they want is more important than what He wants.
Now, am I saying that it is always wrong to play in a game any and every Sunday. No, I’m not saying that. But you also know kids who don’t play only one or two Sunday’s a season.
We need to teach our kids to desperately love God and submit to His revealed Word. And — if they do that — they can know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God will provide for everything they need for life and godliness even if they don’t get a volleyball scholarship in their school of choice.
I encourage you to listen to our “Help Your Children Discover God’s Will for Their Lives” series which deals with them knowing for certain what God wants for their lives and even helps them determine what occupation God may have created them to fulfill.
All of this to say, if you want to mess up sports in your family, all you have to do is teach your kids to raise their desires above God’s, and do the same in your life.
But of course . . . I pray you don’t want to do that.
Please share this episode and join us next time as we discuss “How to Handle Failure.” We won’t necessary be talking just about failure on the field or court, but how to help your kids biblically deal with failures of all sorts.
Listen, I know you want the best for your kids, but their best is what God says, not what the world thinks. Help them know and submit to God’s will in all things and they will experience the best God has to offer.
So, to that end, I’ll see you next time.
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