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Vocation in Sports Ministry Essay

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According to Amy L Sherman, in her book ‘Kingdom Calling’, there are four character traits which are a must for wise vocational stewardship; servanthood, responsibility, courage and humility. [1] In a society in which athletes are idolized, there are few other vocations that can impact more souls, both lost and saved, than in sports ministry. It is one of the only vocations in which a platform of thousands, sometimes millions, of spectators/participants exists. At any level of organized sports there are so many lives that can, and will, be affected by what is seen, heard, learned or experienced on a field or court.

Whether you are participating or watching, sports has lessons that can be learned by all. Since this is the case, what would happen if the individuals who were driving these events, not only had Godly character, but implemented it in their vocation, instead of separating it? At the earliest stages of organized sports, kids learn some of the basic principles they will need to succeed in whatever sport they have chosen. Often, coaches will use this time to teach lessons they feel is important to help shape the character of the child/player.

As we know, however, kids tend to see much more than they hear. The phrase: “With great power, comes great responsibility” could not fit more perfectly than with an adult who is leading the youth. Those that have the characteristics that Sherman talked about, and choose to live by these characteristics without compromise, have the power to positively influence an individual, who could then go on to influence many more. Every community has leaders who were impacted by a coach, and now do the same work they learned when they were young.

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In essence, that coach would have impacted generations! Brad McCoy knew this to be true when he was raising his sons Colt, Chance and Case. He knew that the lessons he taught them would not only affect them, and how they live their lives, it would affect those whom they would someday lead. Little did he know two sons would grow up to play quarterback at the University of Texas. As it turns out, Brad was a high school football coach when his first son, Colt, was born. However, the difference between Brad and the majority of other high school football oaches today is that Brad used Biblical principles as the foundation of his coaching. He sites Proverbs 22:6 “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. ”, as his motivation for his main principle that he would use to mold the lives of not only his sons, but all of his players as well. “Prepare your children for the path, not the path for your children. ”[2] This lesson, as simple as it sounds, was at the very heart of what guided Brad when he was guiding others.

By doing this, Brad chose not to separate his home life, in which he was a man with Godly character, and his vocation. The pressure to separate the two, however, would have been great due to the fact that the school in which he coached at, Jim Ned High, was a public school. In the end Brad chose not to compromise what he knew to be right. The rest is history. Colt went on to be a First Team All American Quarterback, and NFL starter, who used his vocational platform to openly advance God’s kingdom. One person literally touched millions of lives for the Lord through sports.

While Colt was easily the highest profile player Brad coached, one could not help but wonder, how many others went on to take what they learned from their coach and not only apply it to their own lives, but to pass it on to the lives of others using their vocations? What an amazing thought that one man could impact the world in such a positive way for the Kingdom! What would it have looked like however, if Brad McCoy would have chosen not to use his vocation for God’s glory? What if he would have compromised his Christian values so that he would be more comfortable at his job?

For 27 years he helped mold the lives and character of so many, what if he used the world’s standards, and not God’s? Unfortunately the overwhelming majority of coaches at any level, either choose to separate their faith from their sport or have no faith to share to begin with. In some cases we can score it as a lost opportunity, however in the worst case scenarios a coaches bad habits or attitude will negatively affect a young player’s development into adulthood. The athletes themselves can also have a major impact when they decide to use the platform God has given to glorify His name.

Tim Tebow is usually the first to come to mind for anyone who uses the words faith and sports in the same sentence, and rightfully so. Tim was brought up in a similar situation as Colt McCoy, raised by a family who used Biblical principles to guide his life. While Tim’s football abilities are still the hot topic of debate, his faith is not. Tim, since he was a young teen, decided to use the gifts the Lord gave him to glorify God’s name. Going into college, it was clear that Tim had tremendous athletic talent. So much so that much of the media wanted to know more about him.

Since then, Tim has been the focal point of many interviews, columns, stories, anything that the media does, Tebow has been at the center of it several times over. What separates him from everyone else? Tim uses this platform to not only share his faith, but to share his personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In fact, Tebow has been so passionate about sharing his love for Jesus that throughout his college career he wrote Bible verses on his eye black so that every time the camera would show his face, it was visible to audiences of millions.

Many more, both since and before, have also used sports as a ministry. Some you have heard of, like Tony Dungy, Albert Pujols, David Robinson and Kurt Warner. However most of them you have not. Most of those who do this work will never get the recognition they deserve. Looking back at what traits Amy Sherman believed wise vocational stewards needed to be successful, sports, if done right, has a way of highlighting them more than any other vocation. Being a teammate is to be a servant. A teammate gives up so much of ones self, so that others may succeed as well.

Responsibility is the key ingredient to success in any sport for any player, playing any position. Courage is needed whenever you are giving up so much, all for an unknown. Finally, those who have found success in using sports as a way to advance the kingdom of God are humble. All of the men named on these pages excelled at having a Godly character. The thing that separated them from all of the rest was that they refused to compromise their faith in God for the comforts of the society in which they live.

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