Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Faith, Family, and Sports

Faith, Family, and Sports
I know, I know, more parenting advice you don't want to hear, but this is not just about being a parent, but about being an example to our children and to other families that we or our kids might be friends with.  What am I talking about? I am talking about teaching our kids to put God first in their lives and we cannot do that until we are willing to do it ourselves.

We will devote countless hours to work on our golf game, spend hours in the woods or on the lake, plan big shopping trips, and we will spend hours upon hours taking our kids to ball games, practices, competitions, and tournaments, and will spend even more hours volunteering to coach, work concessions, or be in the boosters, and then we give God what's left if any? Is there something wrong with this picture? Yes.

We need to model consistency in our lives, especially when it comes to our children and family.  If we tell our kids that Jesus should be first in our lives then shouldn't there be a clear pattern and lifestyle of that in our daily lives? Choices? And even where we invest and spend our times.  In my years of being a youth pastor and now a senior pastor, I see the pattern far too often, we will drive hours and spend thousands of dollars traveling and going to our kids ballgames and competitions and we put our faith, our service to God, and our commitments to Jesus on the back burner or give, attend, or serve if it doesn't interfere with anything and as a christian, it should be the other way around.  God first, and then everything else second.

We teach our kids they can't quit if they start playing a sport, they can't let their team down, or they need to be a good team player in their teams, and yet what do we teach them with our actions?  Church is optional, I will give if I have anything left, and we will go to church as long as it doesn't interfere with our social lives, schedules, or calendar of events.  We really teach our kids sports is more important than God.

I am not trying to discourage you from letting your kids play organized sports or volunteering your time with other organizations, but you cannot tell me Jesus is first in your life and you are totally committed to your faith when your commitments, time, and heart are somewhere else a majority of the time.  The truth is we teach our kids we can skip church services, leave early, go late, or miss church events if we got ball games or sporting events. We model inconsistency, when we tell our kids to put God first, but then we put everything else in front of God.    I am not preaching perfect attendance at church services, attendance don't save you, but you show your commitment and loyalty to God and His church by your faithful attendance, giving, involvement, service.

When is the last time you made your kids go to a game late because of faith commitments or leave practice early to make it to church, when is the last time you made your kid miss a game or tournament or competition because of something going on at the church or because it interfered with your faith?  I think could count on one hand over the years, the times I've seen parents or kids choose their faith over their sports/hobbies and I'd need a CPA firm to tall the times I've been given excuses as to why someone didn't come to church, missed an event, or couldn't go to camp, or a youth rally, or something.  Look at how much time you spend on sports versus how much time you spend attending church or being the church?

The greatest thing you could ever do for your children, marriage, and family is model consistency of being a Christ follower.  From the moment you give your life to the Lord or make a commitment to follow Jesus you have to choose daily who you will serve, how you will spend your time, and what you will do with your daily life.  I am not suggesting you give up all sports, hobbies, or social activities or shelter your children, but what I am saying is it would be nice, if our own personal faith and the faith of our children and families was clear who and what was a priority in our lives and what truly mattered.

Some day it's not going to matter how many points your child scored, how many touchdowns, goals, home runs, or how many competitions, trophies, or ribbons were accumulated, but I can tell you those who commit to their faith, relationship  with God, His church, and kingdom will have eternal rewards.

I think it's time we take our families back and stop acting like we have no choice or say in the matter. You are the parent and you make the rules and no little league, cheer squad, soccer club, or biddy league should tell us when and where and how we should devote our times and lives. If more parents would stand up maybe coaches and leagues wouldn't schedule things during church times? Just a thought.  What if parents wouldn't let their kids go and they had to cancel or forfeit?  Just think if we treated church that way, if we had to cancel church services or events because not enough of our "team" showed up, after all the church is a body, how can a body be complete with so many members missing so often?

I love sports, I love games, and I love watching kids play sports, but I can tell you as a parent, a pastor, a  man, I will never put a game, or a sport, or a hobby above my faith, my relationship with God, or my commitments to serving the Lord and I challenge all people to do the same in their faith and family and see the difference it makes in your lives and the lives of your children.  Eternity is at stake, it's time we start counting the cost.

Joshua 24:15NIV
But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

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