Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sports are Not Eternal

For most of my life I have seen a great many parents encourage their kids in sports (a good thing) and then let them drop out of church in the process (a bad thing). Sports are good, but they are secondary to God. Parents have a solemn duty and responsibility to teach their children about God and the laws of God. To make anything more important than God is not only a violation of the Greatest Commandment, (Matt. 22:37-40), but also transgresses hundreds of others commandments in scripture and mocks everything that Christianity stands for.

Parents will often complain about the cost of youth camp but will shell out hundreds of dollars for band camp, football camp, baseball camp, or cheer leading camp and their related activities. Parents will allow their children to miss church (as a matter of routine habit) to attend game practices instead. I’m not talking about missing church once in a while, or every now and then for a very special event, (which is okay) but rather as a matter of family values and priority. This communicates one clear message to the child – God is less important than sports. Is this the value system we want to teach our children? No.

If that is not convincing enough, consider these statistical facts:

  • There are approximately 1 million kids playing high school football in the United States. 5.8% of them will go on to play football in college. And just 2.8% of those will play professionally.

  • Of the 300,000 high school soccer players, 5.7% will play in the NCAA and less than 2% of those will play professionally.

  • 500,000 play High School basketball. Of those, 2.9% will play in college, and 1.9% of those will play after that.

Does it really make sense to sacrifice your child’s walk with God for a sports career that, statistically, is not going to happen? Even if he or she did make it to the big time, if they lost their soul in the process, it would still be a bad deal. If you children are in sports.... keep them in church too.

It is important that we steer our children down the path that leads to eternal life. Jesus said....

13Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to DESTRUCTION, and MANY there be which go in thereat: 14Because strait is the gate, and NARROW is the way, which leadeth unto LIFE, and FEW there be that find it (Matthew 7:13-14)

How much money, time and energy do we spend preparing our kids for sports? Instead, we ought to be investing that much effort (and more) into their spiritual development. I am not down on sports…I think they are good. My two sons played baseball beginning at tee-ball and continued all the way through High School. In fact, they even excelled at the game. We just didn’t allow sports (and their love for the game) to jade their view of God in the process. Over the thirteen years that they played baseball, they missed only one or two church services because of sports (and that due to out-of-town events). Otherwise, they were in the House of God on Sunday. While their personal commitment to God is a choice they have to make for themselves, Renae and I (as their parents) wanted to be sure that we did not communicate the wrong message to them. We taught them that God is first… sports are second. No exceptions. We instilled a value in them that will guide them well through life.

I think sports are a good for kids. Sports develop character and help build self-confidence in youth. More kids should be involved in them. I also happen to think that we need to keep it all in perspective.

Sports are not eternal.

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