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Daily Devotions for Competitors

S P O R T
Proverbs 10:23

What do you do for sport?  I know guys who go fishing for sport, some hunt for sport, and some play golf.  What do you do?  Sport is the active pursuit of pleasure and fulfillment. 

In the book of Proverbs at chapter 10 and verse 23 we read, “Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool; and so is wisdom to a man of understanding.”

How could doing wickedness be like a sport?  Have you known any fools?  Lots of people I know seem to find great pleasure and fulfillment in activities that leave them with hangovers and social diseases.  They brag about doing foolish things in the same way you might boast about a career day of personal records and championships.  Fools find pleasure and fulfillment in things that dishonor God and ruin their lives.

The powerful message of this verse is that living wisely is equally pleasurable and fulfilling to the person of wisdom.  Doing things that honor God and serve others is like a sport to those who display wisdom.  A life of wisdom is not boring and passive; rather it’s full of power, activity and adventure, like a sport!

As you pray today, ask God to make you a person of wisdom and to make your life rich with pleasure and fulfillment. 

Bible Reading Plan:
Luke 23:13-25
Hebrews 9:1-10
Proverbs 25:15-28
Isaiah 40-41

C O R R E C T I O N
Proverbs 3:11-12

Does it seem sometimes like the coach is getting on you more than some of the other players?  Does it seem like your parents expect more from you than you can give?  Ever feel like you're being overly disciplined or treated unfairly?  This could be a blessing in disguise.

In the book of Proverbs at chapter 3 and verses 11 and 12 it says, “My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord, or loathe His reproof, for whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father, the son in whom he delights.”

It seems that the discipline we find ourselves under is more often the indicator of a loving relationship than some sort of benign disfavor with a coach or parent.  The Lord will give us correction and training in what's right when we're in error, not because He's mean or cruel, but because He loves us and is committed to us.

Many times this same dynamic works with your coaches and other authorities.  Sometimes they develop a relationship with you in which they invest themselves and their expectations grow.  This relationship of respect and love leads them to correct, to discipline, to reprove.   Heed this scripture's advice and don't despise their words, they're driven by love and commitment for you.

In your prayers today, thank God for those who love you and are committed to you.  Thank Him for those who care enough to correct and discipline.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 17:6-19
Revelation 7
Job 32
Amos 5-6

A P P E A R A N C E   V S.   H E A R T
I Samuel 16:7

How do you judge your teammates’ performance on game day, by their appearance during pre-game or by their play during the competition?  I wish the answer was as obvious to everyone as it is to you and to God.  In fact the Bible shares a story of the vast difference between outward appearances and matters of the heart.

In the First Book of Samuel at chapter 16 and verse 7 we read, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Samuel had come to a man’s house knowing that the next king of Israel would be there.  He was all set to look for the tallest, strongest and brightest of the sons.  The Lord stopped him short in his search and clarified His values.  Samuel was to see beyond the outward and to look for the heart of a leader.

People are often fascinated by the flashy player who puts on a great show in pre-game, only to wonder why that one never sees any playing time.  They’re looking at the outward appearance and can’t see what the coach sees every day in practice.

As we compete today, let’s not fall into the trap of judging by outward appearances.  Rather, let’s look into the hearts of our teammates and coaches.  Let’s see clearly and make wise decisions regarding this game and all of life.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 16:25-33
Amos 3-4

R E A L    P O W E R
Psalm 147:10-11

In which part of your sport do you have the greatest sense of strength or power?  Maybe it’s in the weight room, maybe during drills in practice, or even on game day when it’s all on the line.  How central is that feeling to your enjoyment of the sport?

In Psalm 147 and verses 10 and 11 we read about where God senses power and strength.  It reads, “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.”

It seems that God is impressed with neither the normal measurements of strength nor the usual vessels for power.  Neither the strongest horse nor the fittest athlete really brings him pleasure.  Rather He is deeply pleased by those who respect and trust Him.

Most coaches are like this too.  They might seem impressed at first with the very talented player, the powerful athlete with strength and speed, but if you hang around with them you’ll hear stories about their real favorites.  They are the ones who “bought in” and trusted their coaches.  They are the ones who built unity among their teammates and gave themselves up to make the team better.

Good coaches, like the Lord Himself, find pleasure and take delight in the players who show respect and display trust.  Make that your aim in today’s competition and you’ll be exhibiting real power and strength.

Bible Reading Plan:
Revelation 5
Job 31:1-23
Amos 1-2

C O M M I T M E N T
I Kings 19:19 & 21

Who is the greatest example of total commitment in your sport?  Who has really committed him/herself 100% to your team and to excellence in competition?  How would you rate your level of commitment?  In today’s scripture we see a striking picture of radical commitment.

I the first book of Kings at chapter 19 and in verses 19 and 21 we read, “So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shapat.  He was plowing with 12 yoke of oxen and he himself was driving the twelfth pair.  Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him….  So Elisha left him and went back.  He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them.  He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate.  Then he set out to follow Elijah and to be his attendant.”

Elisha was a wealthy farmer plowing his ground until Elijah the prophet came to town.  By throwing his cloak around him, Elijah was inviting Elisha to join him in his work.  This sounds a lot like a recruiting visit.  At that point things changed radically for Elisha.  He committed everything to the pursuit God’s will. 

Elisha slaughtered his oxen and cooked them over a fire made from the plow.  That’s like a modern farmer blowing up his tractors.  The end result is the same; neither is going back to farming.  That is what total commitment looks like.  Elisha eliminated everything that would hinder his whole-hearted commitment to Elijah and to God.
My challenge to you today is to similarly commit to an absolute, whole-hearted, 100% effort in this competition.  Cast caution to the wind and hold nothing in reserve.  Be as desperate and radical as Elisha in your commitment to your team.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 16:1-11
Revelation 4
Job 30
Joel 2-3

H U M I L I T Y
Psalm 131:1

How do you react when teammates or fans criticize your coaches’ decisions?  Sometimes you might nod in agreement or even voice your displeasure.  At other times you might simply remain silent or vigorously defend the staff’s strategy.  What attitudes might be revealed by those various reactions?

In Psalm number 131 and verse 1 we read David’s view on important attitudes.  There we read, “My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.”  Here’s one of history’s great leaders and he said that he had to guard his attitude from arrogant pride.

We’ve all seen haughty eyes that look down on everyone else.  The arrogant heart has an opinion on everything and is fully convinced of his superiority.

Let’s guard our attitudes and put on humility like David.  Let’s not be so proud or foolish to suppose that our few years of competition make us wiser than our coaches whose decades of experience far surpass our own.  Let’s not concern ourselves with the great matters of the sport, nor with things beyond our ability to understand.

In today’s competition, be the competitor you were made to be.  Do so with great humility and relax under the leadership of your wise, talented coaching staff.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 15:8-27
Revelation 3:14-22
Job 29

T E A M   L E A D E R S
John 10:11

What does it cost to be a good coach or a teammate?  How much more does it cost to be a head coach or a team captain?  You may not be aware of it, but those positions cost a good deal more.  Jesus clues us in on the cost in today’s letter.

Jesus says at John 10 and verse 11, “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”

He who would be a team leader or a coach should count the costs associated with such responsibilities.  It’s just like flying on airplanes, the best seats cost the most.  The cost of such leadership is sacrifice.  It requires laying down one’s life for the people he’s leading.  That comes in terms of time, convenience, preferences, and personal desires, all set aside in order to serve the team.
 
Jesus knows that love and leadership lead to sacrifice.  His love led Him to die in our place.  That’s real sacrifice!  That is what a good shepherd does.

Will you be a good shepherd for your team?  What will it cost you?  How will you lay down your life for your team today?  How many times will you prefer your team’s best over your own?  This is the price tag for leadership.  Pay it in full in today’s competition and you’ll be like Jesus.  Play like champions today.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 15:9-17
Revelation 3:1-13
Hosea 13-14

W I S D O M
James 3:13

Who among your teammates is the best student of the game?  Whose knowledge of strategy and fundamentals can help shape the outcome of a contest?  How is that wisdom evident to the rest of the team?  Today’s scripture tells us how to recognize real wisdom.

In the letter from James at chapter 3 and verse 13 we read, “Who is wise among you?  Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.”  Just like real players show their stuff during competition, real people of wisdom show their true colors by their conduct. The world is crowded with people who can “talk a good game.”  Those who can really play are much rarer.

The same is true when we look for people with real wisdom.  Myriads of folks talk about their intelligence, their academic degrees and their grasp of athletic dynamics, but to find someone whose conduct speaks more loudly than his mouth is a rare thing.

In today’s competition, let’s be players of real wisdom who show their true colors by playing wisely, by serving our teammates and following the instructions of our coaches.  That’s what the author means by good conduct…done in the meekness of wisdom.  Make this a great day of competition. 

Bible Reading Plan:
John 15:1-8
Job 27
Hosea 9-12

T H E   D O O R
John 10:2

Do you have to sneak into the practice facility to practice?  What kind of people would have to sneak in and would always worry about being found and kicked out?  Do you come in through the door, or do you have to crawl in through a window?  What allows you such easy entrance?  Jesus knows…

In John chapter 10 and verse 2 He speaks about access through relationship.  There we read, “But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.”  He had just described those who don’t come in through the door as thieves and robbers.

You don’t need to sneak in, you’re on the team.  The security people know your face.  Outsiders have to buy a ticket on game day, but you just stride right on in.  If they’re caught without a ticket, they’re thrown out.  Your relationship with the team is what gives you entrance.  After a while, even those close to you become known and are at home with your team.  Those with real relationships to the team can come right on in… the “wannabes” have to sneak in some other way.

It’s the same in life; those with real relationship to Jesus can come right on in and speak with Him through prayer and study.  The spiritual “wannabes” seem out of place and even foreign to His presence.

In this day of competition, watch for those you recognize on the bench and in the crowd of spectators.  They are the ones with relationships that are worthy of your love and respect.  Give them the access to your heart and your passion for the game that they’ve earned.  Give this game and your team all you have.

Bible Reading Plan:
Revelation 2:1-17
Job 25-26
Hosea 7-8

R E S P O N S I B I L I T Y
James 3:1

Who is judged more strictly by the press for your team’s standing in the conference, the head coach or the freshman walk-on?  Who gets fired if the team doesn’t meet the expectations of the administration, the coaching staff or the starting line up?  Those answers are obvious, but why are they true?  Today’s scripture speaks about such matters.

In James’ letter at chapter 3 and verse 1, we read, “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”

Coaching, like teaching comes with a very large price tag – responsibility.  No matter whose fault it is when a team underachieves, it’s those who coach who are ultimately responsible.  Certainly the leaders among the players can share some of that load, but the bottom line of responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of the coaching staff.

Therefore we must commit even more highly to our coaches because of the incredible weight of responsibility that they carry daily.  We must also carefully weigh the costs of becoming a coach or a teacher or even a team leader. 

Make today’s competition be one that will fulfill rather than frustrate your coaching staff as you give your absolute best effort.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 14:15-21
Revelation 1:9-20
Job 24
Hosea 4-6

Chaplaincy

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    Sport Chaplain / Character Coach / Sport Mentor Blog

    "Be a Man"

    A year ago our head football coach was fired and we worked with him, his staff, their families, and support staff to manage the transitions each had to make. A few weeks later, our new head coach was chosen and he began to assemble his staff, to determine the direction of the program, and to outline its values. The new head coach is only 31 years old and that presents him a particular set of challenges. His staff is also rather young, with one exception.

    He and I talked after recruiting was completed about how I could serve him and we had a tremendous discussion. One of his first thoughts was to have his program defined by the statement, “Be a Man.” Rather than have a long list of rules, he would like the young men in his program to just, “be a man.” I pushed back, saying, “Coach, they don’t know what that is.” Near 80% of our players grew up with no man in the house, and probably a number of the others had poor models for what a man is. I said, “Coach, we have to define terms. Will you trust me to help them learn what it is to be a man?” He agreed and the rest of this note is related to what I told them and how I delivered the messages.

    In the way that I work with our college football team, I have several different opportunities and methods to convey a message:
    Preseason – Team Building sessions (4-6), senior player talks, coach talks, Sunday morning chapels (2).
    In season – Pregame chapels (11), letters at pregame meals (11).

    Prior to the season, during the early summer, I approached the head coach with some simple ideas to help define what a man is that we could emphasize over and over again. He agreed to this set of four statements: “A Man Loves. A Man Takes Responsibility. A Man Serves. A Man Takes Initiative.” I used these four statements as the anchor to which we tied all our communication throughout the season. At times I would deal with these by drawing sharp contrasts between what men do and what boys do. Boys are selfish, men love. Boys avoid responsibility, men take it up. Boys are self-serving, men serve others. Boys are passive, men take initiative.

    For chapel talks, I majored on narrative texts that demonstrated a person acting on one of the four “A Man …..” statements. I would introduce the talk, recite all four statements, ask someone to pray, and then launch in to my talk. We would wrap up with prayer and I would be finished.

    For the letters at pregame meals, I spent a good deal of time during a July study retreat writing devotional thoughts focused on the four statements. I would start with a story of a player or coach from the program’s past who was emblematic of that day’s statement. I would outline his story in one paragraph. The next paragraph would introduce a Bible passage that spoke to the statement as well.

    The third paragraph would apply the ideas illuminated from scripture to the team and to the earlier player’s life, and the final paragraph would be a direct challenge to do as directed by the scripture and as modeled by the player or coach. I would insert a salutation, date, sign, and print the letter on my office stationery.  I make photocopies and have one copy at each place prior to the pregame meal, 4 hours prior to kickoff. These devotional thoughts, being in letter form, feel very personal to the reader and are well received.

    During the preseason, each senior player and each coach on the staff was given time to deliver a 5-7 minute talk to the entire team. I created a set of questions to help the players gather their thoughts about how their experiences at the university had shaped the kind of men they had become. I created a separate set of questions for the coaches with more information about their childhood and their life experiences. The results of these talks was amazing. Rather than posturing or simply stringing clichés together, they opened their hearts and spoke vulnerably. This was a strong factor in building the team’s culture and its cohesion.

    You may be wondering how the team did this season? We started with strong expectations, quickly discovered our weak spots, competed strongly, lost several very close games, finished well, and had a 4 win, 7 loss record. The remarkable thing was that through a losing streak, our cohesion never broke down, the coaches and players all stayed together, and we never abandoned the program values or goals.

    In a text message to the head coach during the last week of the season, I said, “Coach, you are doing the right things and holding to the right values. Press on. Recruit to the culture you are building. I am proud of you.”


    Our society is full of men who never love, never take responsibility, never serve, and never take initiative. I hope that our work together in Saluki Football, produces young men who do love, take responsibility, serve, and take initiative. I also pray that the introduction of scripture and prayer to their lives takes root in their hearts and comes to full fruition as they become men who love Christ Jesus.

    Notes on Serving Millennial Sportspeople

    For most of the coaches with whom I serve, for most of the chaplains with whom I associate, for most of the parents and employers I know, the Millennial generation is an enigma. They are not sure just how to lead them, just what they value, and otherwise just don’t get what they’re doing. At sixty years of age, an acknowledged and unrepentant Baby Boomer, I have experienced my struggles in communicating and in developing leadership among this unique group of people.

    While researching the characteristics of millennials, I came across this article by a millennial and liked its approach. I have excerpted portions of the article from LinkedIn by Lydia Abbott and have inserted some thoughts re: serving millennial sportspeople. I hope these thoughts are of value to you as you serve them.

    My contributions will be bold italics .

    8 Millennials' Traits You Should Know About Before You Hire Them

    https://content.linkedin.com/content/dam/business/talent-solutions/global/en_us/blog/2016/10/Lydia-Abbot.jpg   Lydia Abbot

    December 4, 2013

    ·          
    1,615

    A lot of people seem to think that we are, well, a pain. The week I graduated from college, Time Magazine released an article titled “ Millennials: the Me Me Me Generation ,” which called us lazy, entitled, self-obsessed narcissists. Ouch! On the other hand, we’ve been called open-minded, liberal, self-expressive, upbeat, and overtly passionate about equality. Naturally, I’d prefer to believe this description over the former (how Millennial of me). But, the truth is both arguments hold some grounds for belief. The reality must fall somewhere in between.
    The interest in and the controversy surrounding my generation resulted in a packed audience and lengthy Q&A at LinkedIn Talent Connect’s session:   “Millennials: How to Attract, Hire, & Retain Today’s Workforce.”  Lead by   Sondra Dryer  of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC),   Barry Sylvia  of TripAdvisor, and   Melissa Hooven  of Cornerstone OnDemand, the talk covered the do’s and don’ts of working with Millennials as well as our overall characteristics and desires.
    I walked away from the session with a clear understanding of how recruiting Millennials is different and the key points every recruiter should emphasize when talking to this new generation. To help out those of you that weren’t there, I put together the following list of key takeaways from the session with a view of my own observations thrown in.

    Millennials are…

    Multitaskers

    ·          Millennials are multitasking pros and can juggle many responsibilities at once. This also means that we are easily distracted and find social media and texting hard to resist.
    ·          This means that coaches, chaplains, and anyone who hopes to connect with them has to deal with their distractedness. We either have to take away the distractions, as some coaches have, or find ways to engage them deeply enough to push through the distractions. You can either be annoyed with their distraction or develop a way to deal with it. It will be there.
    Connected
    ·          Millennials know everything there is to know about social media because we are living it. We are constantly perusing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.  - it’s how we share and get information.
    ·          This means that we can either join them in their connectedness or become quickly irrelevant. This group connects immediately with people from all across the planet. That is both good and bad. The issue is with whom they connect. If we will provide good content, even godly content, through various social media platforms, we stand to be the ones shaping their thoughts and values. Don’t fear or war against their connectedness, find a way to transform it via Biblical truth.
    Tech-Savvy
    ·          There’s no doubt that the majority of Millennials are more tech-savvy than other generations, although Generation Z may soon surpass us (yikes!).
    ·          This surely means that we must become tech-savvy as well. At least have tech-savvy people on your team who can put your content and wisdom into the stream of information in which the millennials daily swim. This is an ever-changing landscape. Don’t let it pass you by.
    Millennials want…
    Instant Gratification & Recognition
    ·          Millennials need to feel like what they are doing is important and that they are on the right track.  Yes, it sounds a little needy…and it is. But, many Millennials grew up with constant praise from their Baby Boomer parents. It’s what they know.
    ·          This is likely the greatest source of frustration and annoyance for the Baby Boomers and even Gen Xers. Sadly, it’s our fault. We were the ones who invented participation trophies and sheltered our kids from any possible pain or injury. We decided everyone should be winners, no one should be a loser, and we are reaping the whirlwind in this generation of needy and over-sensitive people. We can either be constantly offended or find ways to deal with their desire to be recognized and have immediate feedback. My suggestion is to give instant feedback, especially praise, in public, face to face, in text messages, via tweets, and to regularly praise the matters you value with their teammates present. Praise what you want and you’ll get more. Ignore or discourage what you don’t want, and you’ll get less of it.
    Work-Life Balance & Flexibility
    ·          Millennials aren’t as willing as former generations to sacrifice their personal life in order to advance their careers. They like to “work hard – play hard” and want to be at a company that appreciates this desire for balance. They also expect a more flexible work environment than previous generations and want to work for a company that supports various causes.
    ·          We should expect this group to have a strong sense of how many hours they invest in training, practice, film study, team meetings and such vs. how much time they have for social activities, academic work, etc… They will be quick to complain if they think this is out of balance. Don’t just call them soft or chide them about commitment, discuss the balance with them and help them understand your values, the necessity of diligence, and arrive at a wise and appropriate balance. When you do, you’ll have their full commitment.
    Collaboration
    ·          Millennials are extremely team-oriented and enjoy collaborating and building friendships with colleagues.
    ·          This is a quality that should work in our favor. Encourage and reward their teamwork. Enable them to build friendships among their teammates with social events, fun team activities, meals together, etc… This group will love it.
    Transparency
    ·          Millennials want to feel like they have an open and honest relationship with their manager and co-workers and that there won’t be any nasty surprises when they join a company. Once they’ve signed on, they want assurance that their opinion is valued and both give and receive a good deal of feedback.
    ·          I watched this in action this August during our college football team’s pre-season. We had each senior player share a few minutes about his experience at the university and with this team. They were remarkably vulnerable and shared their hearts with their teammates. Further, we had our coaching staff each share the life stories and situations that made them into the men they are today. Wow, when they bared their souls to their players, the bonding was deep and permanent. The transparency shown by these players and coaches, resulted in a remarkable sense of team unity.
    Career Advancement
    ·          Millennials want to know that they will have the opportunity to advance and develop their careers within the company they choose to join.

    ·          This is another point of contention for most older coaches who deal with millennial competitors, especially as the competition gets stronger and the starting positions become fewer. “I feel like I should be the starting quarterback.” “I work harder than anyone.” “I think I should start. I was the best player on my 5-A high school and AAU teams.” “When is it my turn to be the #1?” “Why can’t I have the jersey number I prefer?” Most of these kids grew up with their preference, with a strong sense of entitlement, with mom or dad carrying their hundreds of dollars of gear to the ballpark. Most of their families have engineered ways for their kids to be the first, the best, the #1 player, from infancy. When they arrive at a level where everyone has also been there, it’s a stark reality. We have to lead them to value “we” over “me” and to understand that sport is a meritocracy where the one who bests serves the team’s best interests will play more than the one who has the best gear, the best post-game snacks, or the wealthiest parents.

    Reprise: Notes on Coaching Staff Transitions

    This time of year always brings the resignations, firings, new hirings, and other coaching staff transitions. This is primarily true in college football, but also applies to the high school level, and other fall sports as well. Below is a post from late November, 2007 during the third transition I had experienced with our football staff. I hope its values and insights are of value to you as transitions come your way.


    At this time of year in college football, there are dozens of changes among head coaching positions, multiplied by their staff’s transitions. This displaces hundreds of coaches and their families each year. We can serve them by understanding the situation and positioning ourselves for effective ministry.

    Related to the outgoing staff: 
    · If the staff was fired, understand that this feels like failure and a lot like death to them. 
    · Help the coaches to see this situation within the sovereignty of God. The Lord is not surprised by this. 
    · Understand that the transition is probably harder on the coach’s family than on the coach. 
    · Be available to them. They may not want much company, but if they welcome your presence, be there. 
    · Be prepared for the termination of some relationships. Some relationships will live beyond their tenure with your team, but others will cut off all ties to this place and you could be cut off as well. 
    · Communicate respect and thankfulness for their time with your team as well as hope for their future. 
    · Assure them of your prayers and availability to serve. 
    · Written communication is very good and can be an enduring encouragement to them. Send a card, an email and/or periodic text messages to stay in touch with them. 


    Related to the incoming staff: 
    · Pray for favor with the athletic administration and the new head coach. 
    · When a new head coach is announced, send a letter of congratulations immediately (keep it to one page). 
    · When the coach is settled into the office, get an appointment to welcome him/her and to offer your assistance. 
    · Bring a gift (a book) that is reflective of your desired relationship with the coaching staff and team. 
    · A wise attitude is reflected in offering to do, “as much or as little as the head coach believes appropriate.” 
    · When discussing a role with the team one can reference his/her role with past coaching staffs, but don’t lock into those methods or activities exclusively. 
    · Let the coach paint the parameters for your role and work to build trust and credibility from there. 
    · It is always wise to offer to serve with no strings attached. Guard your attitude from presumption. 
    · Come prepared to discern the coach’s perception of his/her, the staff and the team’s needs.

    PowerUp Sports Ministry Conferences

    On Wednesday of this week, we participated in the PowerUp Sports Ministry Conference in the Indianapolis, Indiana area. Bill Houston and his team from Our Daily Bread Ministries (odb.org) hosted and organized this excellent event.

    The program featured presentations by LaMorris Crawford, chaplain to the Cincinnati Bengals of the NFL, Dorothy Caldwell, chaplain to the WNBA Chicago Sky, my son Jason Lipe and I, and a panel discussion facilitated by Tom Rust of Face-2-Face Radio, and populated by Derick Grant, formerly with the Harlem Globetrotters, David Wildman of Fully Packed Adventure Sports Ministries, David Storvick, chaplain to the Indy Racing League, Cameron Mills, former basketball player at Kentucky, and Tom Roy of Unlimited Potential, Inc.

    LaMorris Crawford delivered two excellent and inspiring talks. Dorothy Caldwell did a very good job of sharing about her service with WNBA players. Jason and I talked about growing up in sports chaplaincy, how we have both learned as we served.

    The panel did a tremendous job of sharing about their respective ministries, their challenges, and their successes.

    Our Daily Bread provided each of the attendees a set of their resources, refreshments, and an excellent lunch. The presentations were each recorded on video and will soon be available on line at – ourdailybread.org/powerup .

    Four PowerUp Sports Ministry Conferences are scheduled for 2016-2017:

    November 29, 2016 in Lansing, Michigan at South Church
    March 1, 2017 in Knoxville, TN at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church
    April 26, 2017 in Houston, TX at Crosspoint Church
    October 3, 2017 in Grand Rapids, Michigan at Our Daily Bread Ministries

    For more information and to register, please visit: ourdailybread.org/powerup


    As good as the presentations are, as inspiring as the speakers are, as delicious as the lunch is, I believe the greatest asset of these events is the gathering of like-minded, committed, but often isolated sports chaplains. The fellowship we enjoy, the networking in which we engage, the sharing of our lives together is of powerful effect, encouraging, and enlightening. Please join us and many of your colleagues at a PowerUp Sports Ministry Conference very soon.

    Monthly Conference Calls for Sports Chaplains and Character Coaches

    One of the more impactful, available, and practical ways we have used to serve the sports chaplaincy community in the United States is the conference call. Just over two years ago, I began an experiment in sport chaplaincy development by hosting a monthly conference call. From August through May we simply interviewed one of our sports chaplaincy colleagues from around the country for anywhere from 35 to 60 minutes. The calls never fail to inform, inspire, encourage, and challenge each one who calls in.

    Those interviewed have included both men and women, people from collegiate, high school, and professional sports. Many of those interviewed have been volunteers, others have been sports ministry professionals working for FCA or other sports ministries. The conference calls have been promoted via email, via social media, and via text messages.

    We would invite you to join us. We now have two times slots for these calls. One call is on the first Sunday evening each month at 8:00 pm Central time. That call is primarily aimed at volunteers whose work schedules will not allow them to be on the other call, which is usually on the first Tuesday of each month at 10:30 am Central time. This second call is aimed at ministry professionals like pastors, FCA or other sports ministry staff people.

    These calls are connected via Freeconferencecall.com and that makes it really simple for anyone to join us from most anywhere. To stay updated on the day and time for upcoming calls, simply follow me on Twitter - @SalukiChaplain, friend me on Facebook, or send me a text message to be put on my text list for sports chaplains – 618.559.2735.

    The next Sunday night call is coming up Sunday November 6.



    The next Tuesday morning call is set for December 13.



    The calls are very beneficial as they accomplish much of   FCA’s approach to developing sports chaplains – 1) Training 2) Networking and 3) Mentoring. We all learn best when we hear ideas and best practices from our colleagues.

    Please join us and encourage those whom you lead to join us if they are engaged in or even interested in service as a sports chaplain or character coach.  


    The process is very simple. Call 712.432.1500, then enter code 991788#, and then enter 1 when prompted. That’s it. It’s perfect for busy people calling in from a mobile phone. Thanks.

    How "Spiritual" or "Religious" should my service be?

    It is amazing to observe the wide variety of styles that we employ in our service of the people of sport. Some of us approach our service like a member of the coaching staff. Others seem more like a pastor who roams the dugouts, sidelines, and locker rooms. Still others are evangelists, without apology, seeking opportunities to share Jesus in any moment. There is certainly room for one to develop his or her personal style of service, but just how “spiritual” or “religious” should our service be?

    While speaking with our university’s play by play radio announcer earlier this year, he remarked, “I have never heard your work described as religious.” I replied that I was glad, rather than being religious I would prefer to be faithful to my calling from God. I think what he meant was that I don’t communicate in religious clichés, nor do I imply that going to church services with me is the height of Christian devotion. My way of serving people in sport is to speak in the language of their cultures, rather than importing church culture into their worlds. It is not heard as religious, but it communicates clearly and respectfully.

    Some of our colleagues employ the super-spiritual language that fits their church environment as they are on the practice field. While that makes the chaplain stand out as distinctively different, it also creates some distance that many will not even try to cross to connect with him or her.

    We may do better to think about our service of sportspeople by focusing on the core of our message, rather than the language in which it is wrapped. Rather than simply spouting the clichés, buzzwords, and illustrations we hear on the latest preacher’s podcast, let’s find ways to communicate that truly transform the hearts of those we serve. More than religious, such communication is truly spiritual and speaks life into the lives of sportspeople.


    How “spiritual” should our service be? Very. How “religious” should it be? That’s up to you.

    Wise, Thoughtful, and Biblical Devotional Reflection

    Our friend and colleague, Stuart Weir of Verité Sport , shared this devotional thought earlier today. It is emblematic of what I believe to be a wise, thoughtful, and Biblical view of sport and faith. Please take a moment to read Stuart’s thoughtful reflection from I Timothy 4:8.

    Important but not All-Important

    For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:8.

    Sport is legitimate. It is part of God’s creation and it brings pleasure to many. It is as worthwhile a part of human activity as any other. Through sport people can glorify God and it can provide opportunities to talk about Jesus. However, at the end of the day, sport is transient. It, like all other human activity, is going to pass away. In the light of eternity it is of limited value.

    While there is a danger of sport becoming an idol if it is put ahead of Christ, sport is important because it is the arena in which we serve Christ.

    Helmfried Riecker expresses it thus in his book Warm Up: “The New Testament writers are unanimous, not only about the hope of eternal life after death, but also that the goal of that eternal life is to be with Christ in the presence of God the Father… It is great to set sports goals and to gain a real part of your meaning in life through the fulfilment of these goals. However, the short-term goals will appear in a different perspective when you see again the real goal of your life. If winning a final is an exciting thing, how much greater will be the celebration of the ultimate goal of your life?”

    South African, cricketer, Peter Pollock would agree with that: ‘As Christian sportsmen our task is to throw ourselves wholeheartedly into applying the gifts God has given us in the arena he has prepared for us, realizing always that the final victory isn’t the World Cup’ (‘The myth of success’).


    Wanting to compete at the Olympics and wanting to win a gold medal are totally appropriate aspirations for an athlete. At the same time we need to remember God’s big picture. 

    Loving Unlovely Sportspeople

    In our service of the men and women in sport, not everyone will be lovely and kind. Not everyone will be amiable and honorable. Not everyone will be wise and reasonable. We will certainly be surrounded by some unlovely, crude, mean, selfish, and nasty people. Our sphere of service and influence extends to the nasty as well as the nice. We must care for the obnoxious unlovely as well as the absolutely lovable. How shall we accomplish this? I have some simple thoughts listed below.

    1.    Purpose to appropriate Christ’s love you have received toward others . When dealing with difficult people or with those with whom I cannot connect well, I will pray for the person and set my will to transfer the love I have received from the Lord Jesus to this person. This may seem overly simple, but it is very effective in shaping one’s attitude toward the less than lovable in our lives.
    2.    Make a list of the person’s admirable traits and affirm them when you interact with him or her. This may certainly be difficult, but it is worth it. To find a characteristic of the person, to name it in conversation with him, to write a complimentary text message or card, to speak well of that person’s character in public, can turn an annoyance into an alliance.
    3.    Seek an opportunity to serve or to give the person a gift . It’s really hard to maintain a grudge or to keep a conflict alive when we are serving or giving gifts to them. The Proverbs are full of wisdom for how one’s gift can pacify contentions and Jesus’ way is to love even our enemies.
    4.    Remind yourself that this person is one whom the Lord Jesus loves . Through decades of leading in summer sports camps, I would challenge our staff about half way through the camp to love the campers (and other staff members), who had grown into annoyances. I would challenge them with this thought. “When you see that terribly annoying person, the one who gets on your last nerve, say to yourself, ‘Here comes the one whom the Lord loves.’ That may be enough to help you control your attitude, to reshape your tone of voice, and to find a way to communicate the same love the Lord has for him or her.”
    5.    Give the person some space . Sadly, not everyone wants to hang out with us. You may be gracious, kind, loving, and wise, but some people will still resist you and may even be antagonistic toward you. Relax. Some people make assumptions about you due to poor relationships with others in your role, with others from your organization, with others in the Church, with Christian family or friends, or they simply don’t like how you wear your hair. Give them some space. An opportunity to serve may come along that can crash through those barriers and you may be the one person on the planet well prepared to care for the person and to extend the love to Christ Jesus in the most appropriate and timely way.


    In summary, may I challenge you to love extravagantly and to serve selflessly, the lovable and the unlovely, the wise and the foolish, the amiable and the surly, the gregarious and the grouchy. In doing so, we emulate and honor the Lord Jesus.

    Eight Ways to Worship On the Field of Competition

    For the last several years I have been speaking, writing, and challenging others to consider sport as a form of worship for the Christian sportsperson. I believe that kicking a ball, swinging a bat, running a race, diving from a board, or any other sporting activity can be an equally valid a form of worship as singing a song, playing a guitar, performing a ceremony, or other, more religious activities.

    For a few months I incubated some thought and selected some Bible texts that could help us embrace these ideas and reshape our thinking to view ways that we may worship on the field of competition. A week ago, I wrote a series of discussions that attempt to do just that. One example of the studies is below and the entire series is available to you. Simply email me at RLipe@fca.org for a copy. You are free to use it, to criticize it, or to trash it. I simply want to push the dialogue along and to broaden our thoughts and experiences re: sport and worship. Thanks.

    Eight Ways to Worship On the Field of Competition
    Roger D. Lipe ( RLipe@fca.org )

    Worship by Competing Sacrificially
    ·         Tell us about some of the things you sacrifice for your life in sport.
    ·         For what or for whom do you make these sacrifices?
    ·         What do you think you learn or gain from the process of competing sacrificially?
    Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)
    And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice--the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly they way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
    ·         To what and to who do you give your bodies in training and in competition?
    ·         Is that similar to or different from giving them to God as mentioned here? Why?
    ·         What about training and competition is sacrificial? How so?
    ·         When does that sacrifice feel like it is the very stuff of life, a living sacrifice?
    ·         When do you get a sense that your sacrificial lifestyle sets you apart from most other people around you?
    ·         Why would God find such sacrifice to be acceptable and an act of true worship?
    ·         What are some of the world’s behaviors and customs that are out of step with God’s way?
    ·         By contrast, how would a new and transformed person compete and thereby worship on the field of competition?
    ·         How would worshiping in our sporting lives help us learn God’s will?
    ·         What would be good, pleasing, and perfect about knowing God’s will for you?
    ·         Let’s list some direct results from competing sacrificially, thus worshiping God in the activity of sport:
    o    God accepts our ________________, which is living and holy.
    o    We truly ______________ God as we compete.
    o    God transforms us into _______ ________.
    o    God changes the way we ______________.
    o    We learn God’s _______, which is _________ and _________ and  ________.

    ·         Summary - Worship by competing sacrificially and you can expect that you will be transformed in your thinking and will discover God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will.

    Serving Those Near the End of Their Careers

    In the lives of every competitor and coach we serve there is one inevitable event, the end of his or her career. At some point, he or she has played the final game, run the final race, swam the last lap, hit the final shot, had the final at bat, inning, quarter, or period of his or her competitive career. While some who compete in sport may go on to be a coach, even that career will run its course and suddenly the weight of that moment is felt again.

    Many of those we serve make this transition very well and rather easily. They are usually the ones who derive very little of their personal identity from their sporting life. The ones who are at most risk in this moment are those whose lives in sport fully consume all that they are. Some see the final day coming from a long way off and begin to prepare for it. Others find themselves overwhelmed by the gravity of the moment as they change clothes in the locker room immediately after the final competition.

    Across twenty-three seasons of collegiate and professional sport I have witnessed a broad range of emotions in these moments. Some finish with a sigh (as Moses describes in Psalm 90), they are simply spent and are relieved at the finality of their careers. Some finish in a flood of tears as this era of their lives is over and they feel it as grief, though a part of them has died. Others become bitter and look back on their investment of time, energy, emotion, relationships, injury, and pain as a net loss rather than a gain. Still others seem to glide through the day without apparent difficulty, but a couple of weeks later they are stunned at the sudden appearance of free time and leisure.

    One of our men’s swimmers from a few years ago shared his thoughts with our FCA group one evening. Although we had been talking about the end of career issues for a couple of years, he said it still hammered his heart and mind after he touched the wall for the final time at the end of his unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the USA Swimming Team for the 2012 Olympic Games. “It’s like I had been writing right handed for my whole life and then suddenly I had to start writing left handed.” That is how he described the depth of the change in lifestyle he experienced.

    A coaching friend of mine recently retired due to health concerns. It was the most difficult thing he had ever done as the passion for the game and the daily process was still there, but it appeared it could also kill him. “I’ve never done anything else.” He was looking straight down the barrel of a crippling loss of identity, and wondered who he would be if he didn’t wear the title, “Coach.”

    Given the power of this epoch in one’s sporting life and the fact that it will come to everyone at some point, I would like to offer some strategies to help those you serve navigate these turbulent waters safely and successfully.
    • ·         Help them see the end of career issues before they arrive. Ask questions about their plans for post-career life. Talk about family, calling, life purpose, short and long term plans.
    • ·         Encourage them to journal during the last season of their careers and to thereby capture each day’s memories, moments of significance, joy, and sorrow.
    • ·         Ask them to share their stories of career highlights, funny moments, times of joy and fulfillment. Ask about the most significant people and situations in their sporting lives.
    • ·         Discuss how their lives in sport uniquely qualify them to serve, to lead, and to make significant contributions beyond sport.
    • ·         Help them see that they are of infinite value to you, to others, and ultimately to God, in or out of sport.
    • ·         Help them to find their identity in a vibrant, living relationship with Christ Jesus. They are infinitely loved and identified with Christ, even more than as a competitor or coach.



    Your presence in walking with them, your wisdom in guiding their approach, and your kindness in understanding their hearts will go a long way in assisting your sporting friends to make the painful transition from sporting life to that of “former coach or competitor.” 

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Roger has written many books. You can find them at Cross Training Publications. Their home on the web is here.

Click on the following image to order copies of Roger's devotional Heart of a Champion.

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Roger Lipe is the Midwest Region International Coordinator for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The Midwest Region includes the states of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. In addition to this role, he is the Campus Director for Saluki FCA at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He also serves the Midwest Region in developing sports chaplaincy ministries.
Roger has served as chaplain to several of the athletic teams at Southern Illinois University since 1994.www.siusalukis.comHe has also served as chaplain to the Southern Illinois Miners of the Frontier League since 2012.
Lipe previously served as the Field Representative for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in the 26 southernmost counties of Illinois for twenty-one years.
Roger was born and raised in Carbondale and currently resides there with his wife, Sharon. Roger was a high school athlete at Carbondale Community High School, competing in football, wrestling, and track and field. He was also a high school wrestling official for 13 years. He now competes in racquetball and golf.
Roger committed his life to Christ at 10 years of age and was greatly influenced by the Jesus Movement of the early 70s as well as by attending F.C.A. camps in his high school years. He is an active member of Lakeland Baptist Church in Carbondale.
Roger has been profoundly impacted by the short-term mission trips of No Greater Love Ministries since the early 1980s. Fred Bishop, No Greater Loves founder, continues to be a valued mentor and friend.
Roger is the author of seven books of devotions for athletes and coaches. The latest of these is titled,Heart of a Champion Devotions for the People of Sport. He is also the author ofTransforming Lives in Sport A Guide for Sport Chaplains and Sport Mentors. Both of those titles have been translated into Spanish under the titles,Corazon de un CampeonandTransformando Las Vidas en Deportes.

Free to Compete Reflections on Sport from a Christian Perspectiveis Lipes most recent publication. It is a compilation of the weekly reflections he has emailed to hundreds of sport chaplains and character coaches around the globe since 2007. All of these books are available through Cross Training Publishing.
In 2010, Roger published,Soul Food Heart Fuela book of scriptures and prayers in conjunction with Southern Illinois Healthcare. All proceeds from the sales of the book benefit the Coach Kill Cancer Fund.
Roger is the chair of the Sports Chaplaincy Table for the International Sport Coalition and worked with several colleagues from around the world to developwww.globalsportschaplaincy.org. His global network has enabled himto make dozens of international trips to facilitate ministry in sport since November of 2000.

"I lead, encourage and inspire sportspeople as they pursue the fulfillment of God's purposes for their lives."

"I believe lives are transformed as people experience the Lord Jesus' presence and pleasure in Sport."

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