North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

The month of May is “National Physical Fitness and Sports Month”. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about competitive sports, it’s the importance of mental and emotional preparedness. Both teams in a contest are going to pull off certain big plays, but it’s the team with the fewest errors that’s going to win. I’ve always believed the spiritual maturity of the team leaders are a significant factor in winning more games. Through Bible study and prayer, teammates can be brought closer together.

When I was in high school we had an active Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter. When I moved on to Florida State, opportunities to participate were even greater. We had huddle groups regularly and the faithful attendees were usually the ones who had the most success in their sport. I don’t believe fortune always favors an athlete just because they’re Christian, but I do believe because they follow Christ, more times than not, they play harder and work together better.

The New Testament is loaded with words and symbols from the sports arena: “Fight the good fight of the true faith” (1 Tim. 6:12), “Athletes can’t win the prize unless they follow the rules” (2 Tim. 2:5), “Run and not grow weary” (Isa. 40:31), “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better” (1 Tim. 4:7-8), “I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful” (2 Tim. 4:7), “All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize. Run with purpose in every step. Discipline your body like an athlete, training it to do what it should” (1 Cor. 9:24-27).

The athlete who practices basic Christianity should be able to excel as a person and motivate his or her teammates to loftier performances. But the measure of the Christian athlete’s faith and spiritual commitment will not necessarily determine their standing on the team. God wants you to be your best, so it’s important you make that your goal. And if your best is a spot on the third string team and you reach that goal, then spiritually you’re on the first team.

I know it’s possible for a person to be a good athlete without being a Christian. But I think they can be a better one as a Christian. An athlete who is spiritually fit and concerned about others will be a better performer in the contest. I’ve been an athlete for years and the times when I was not in the best shape spiritually as I could be, I was out of balance and probably suffered more emotional upheavals than God intended for me to experience.

A person who is spiritually fit and concerned about others will be a better performer in sports because they are at peace with themselves. Take a person who’s out of condition spiritually, and more likely they will be out of balance on the playing field with potential for unnecessary problems. Realizing your shortcomings is one of the things that happen during those problematic crises’. These are the times when we usually turn to God for help. As you begin to trust Him more and more, your life will change. And finally you’ll come to understand that there are more important things in life than football, baseball, basketball, softball, tennis, golf, and track. Be mindful that no amount of money, power, fame, or VIP experience can make you a winner or bring real meaning to life. In the grand scheme of things, you’re only winning when you know Jesus Christ personally and are committed to his way of life.

To be on a winning team the players have to believe its “one for all and all for one”. This involves submission to authority, self-sacrifice, cooperativeness, and unselfishness; all by-products of Christianity. The great secret of a team’s ability to win consistently is team unity and spirit. Teams that consistently win have players genuinely committed to being their best, giving extra, maintaining control, and sacrificing self-interests for the good of the group. All of which are integral parts of Christian living as outlined in the New Testament.

Based on my athletic and coaching experience, I offer the following suggestions to athletes desiring to live out their faith in the sport’s world: 1) Respect the contest, yourself, and your opponent, 2) Keep winning in perspective; first commit to doing your best and second, practice team loyalty. After these two, winning will take care of itself, 3) Determine to enjoy competition, doing whatever it takes for you and the team to have fun at what you’re doing, 4) Determine to make each practice and game a learning experience to better understand yourself and others, 5) Honor God with humbleness, prayer, and the honest use of your abilities.

I have discovered and will always believe that a human being in sports and in life will not reach their greatest potential unless they’re touched by God and Jesus Christ who can make a man or a woman into what he or she is supposed to be.

  • This weekly column is written by Matt Dobson. A graduate of Florida State University, Univ. of West Florida, and Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, he is Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Jay, Florida and is a Captain (CPT) in the U.S. Army Reserves Chaplain Corp. Matt can be reached by email: He welcomes your thoughts concerning faith, belief, and Christian living. Visit the Living With Purpose website at
Posted by on May 4 2014. Filed under Living With Purpose, Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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