Daily Devotions for Competitors

P E A C E   O F   M I N D
Philippians 4:7

How do you get your mind to calm down when worries and fear come your way?  How do we trust God when everything we can see points to failure and despair?  Take heart in the words of today's scripture verse.

In Paul's letter to his friends in Philippi he writes at chapter 4 and verse 7, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension shall guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.” 

Trust the Lord to continue to give you peace of mind and confidence of heart when you pray.  Look to Him for what you need in all areas of your life.

Look to the Lord for wisdom in relationships, for knowledge in class, for abilities and courage in competition.  He has everything we need to be people that honor Him. 

Be assured that when we look to our Lord for these matters, we will be met with a peace that is far beyond what the human mind can comprehend.  We will be carried along by the Lord's peace as a dove carries a flower.

The peace that the Lord gives serves to guard our hearts and our minds.  It guards our hearts from pain and despair.  It guards our minds from confusion and frustration.

As you pray today, rest in the peace of God and trust Him to guard your heart and mind through your relationship with Christ Jesus.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 7:1-13
I Peter 4:12-19
Song of Solomon 7
Lamentations 2

II Corinthians 4:1

What could happen during a practice or a competition that would cause you to lose heart?  From where would you draw the power to press through such circumstances?  In today’s scripture we’ll investigate a limitless source of power and courage for our hearts.

In the second letter to the Corinthian church at chapter 4 and verse 1, Paul wrote, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.”  In spite of some terribly harsh times, this man writes to his friends that his heart is not lost and that God’s mercy has sustained his service of them.

The best source of perseverance in the world is the mercy of God.  On our worst days, He does not give us what we deserve, He gives us the best.  On our best days, it’s still a matter of mercy that we receive the joys of life.

If we received what we deserve in relation to sport, most of us would be forever riding the bench.  We’d be running for the next millennium to pay for our foolishness.  Thankfully our coaches are merciful as well.

Since you have your position on this team as a result of God’s mercy, and maybe your coach’s as well, do not lose heart.  Be encouraged that there must be a strong and vital role for you to fill with this team.  Seek it and fulfill it with all your heart.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 6:60-71
I Peter 4:1-11
Song of Solomon 6
Lamentations 1

Romans 5:3-4

All of us have things in our lives that require perseverance.  Whether it's suffering, pain from injuries, broken relationships or other pains; when we persevere through these things we find a great product.  Character is the result of a life of perseverance.

The Apostle Paul writes to his friends in Rome at chapter 5 and verse 4, "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us."

Persevering through tough times is like a precious metal being refined by fire.  The fire purifies the metal as impurities are liquefied and skimmed off.  Perseverance removes the impurities, the excess baggage, the junk from our lives, producing character as its reward.  Paul tells us that perseverance produces character.  Persevere in today's competition and reap the reward of outstanding character.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 6:41-59
I Peter 3:13-22
Song of Solomon 5

John 5:19

From whom have you taken instruction in the game?  Certainly your coaches at each level of your sport have taught you well.  Who else provides wise guidance?  Who would have done this for Jesus?  He tells us in today’s letter.

In John chapter 5 at verse 19 we read, “Then Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.’”
There it is, Jesus’ key to wise living.  Do whatever your leader does.  He saw what His heavenly Father would do and simply copied his actions. 

In like manner, we can emulate the best models we’ve gathered from our coaches, teammates and opponents to bring about the best game of our lives.  Remember the lessons of life and the game taught you through years of practices and hours of video study.  Remember the models for great play, and then simply walk in the footsteps of those who have gone before you.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 6:25-40
I Peter 3:8-12
Jeremiah 51

T A L K   O R   P L A Y ?
I John 3:18

Whom do you respect more, the player who talks a good game or the one who shows his game on the field of competition?  I’m sure your answer would be the same as mine.  Actions speak more loudly and clearly than any mouthy wannabe.

The Apostle John talks about this at chapter 3 and verse 18 of his first letter, there we read, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.”

I’m sure we all get a little tired of the people who make themselves out to be experts in the game, but when questioned a little further, turn out to be novices at best.  We’ve all known people who talk an “A” game, but can’t play up to a low “D.”  Their sport experience is in word and tongue only.

We must be players who live in deed and in truth.  A friend of mine is fond of saying, “Say less, do more.”  That should characterize our competition.  Let’s let our performance on the field of competition do our talking for us.  That’s how we compete in deed and in truth.

As you compete today, take seriously John’s admonition to love in deed and in truth.  Love your teammates and coaching staff by giving your best effort to secure a win.  That will speak volumes about your game and your character. 

Bible Reading Plan:
John 6:16-24
Song of Solomon 4:1-7
Jeremiah 50

Philippians 1:8

Who is your dearest friend?  For whom do you care deeply, family, friends, teammates, coaches?  What is the source of those affections?  How durable are those relationships?  The Scripture points to a source of love that will endure forever.

In Paul's letter to his friends in Philippi, at chapter 1 and verse 8 he says, "For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus."  More than anything else, with these letters I want to communicate the love I have for you.  I want you to know furthermore that the source of this love is my relationship with God.  His love for you leads me to do the same.

There is a security and a power that comes from being loved.  As I know with certainty that I'm loved by my wife, son, mom and dad, my friends and most importantly, loved by God; I'm free and empowered to love others also.

This same security and power is a great source for competition and all sorts of pursuits.  In sports, business, family life, all the areas of life, you are free to love and to pursue excellence because you're loved and greatly valued. 

Take that confidence onto the floor tonight.  Play with passion, confidence, heart, power and perseverance because you're loved.  If not by anyone else in the world, you're each loved by me.  I'm for you in all of life.

Bible Reading Plan:
James 2:18-25
Song of Solomon 3
Jeremiah 49

Romans 5:3

Somewhere in the course of every season, suffering and pain come along to meet us.  Whether it's in the form of a losing streak, an injury, academic challenges or family tragedy, suffering is inevitable.  What makes the difference in people is how one reacts to suffering. 

In Paul's letter to his friends in Rome, at chapter 5 and verse 3, he writes, "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us."

If our lives are without suffering, we just skate along and remain unprepared for life's big crises to come.  Paul says that suffering produces perseverance.  The small aches and pains of life prepare us for dealing with the big hurts and teach us how to press through them in pursuit of excellence.
  Let's let suffering produce in us the desired result... perseverance.  When we're possessed of that great quality, we can press through any difficulty and come out the other side as victors.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 5:31-47
I Peter 2:9-17
Song of Solomon 2
Jeremiah 47-48

Proverbs 16:32

How well do you control your emotions during competition?  Do you get easily distracted or do you stay under control?  Might the Bible have anything to say about these matters?

Proverbs chapter 16 and verse 32 states, “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.”  Sometimes the greatest battles we fight take place between our ears.

It’s often the struggle over who controls our minds and emotions that is the foremost factor in our success or failure.  In this verse, patience and self-control are valued even more highly than physical strength or military power.

As you compete today, ask the Lord to enable you to master your mind and emotions.  Ask Him to take control of them for His purposes.  Compete with patience and in full control of your mental and emotional focus.  As the proverb says, these qualities make us better than the mighty warrior and even stronger than the one who can overthrow a city.  Compete like a champion today!

Bible Reading Plan:
John 5:16-30
I Peter 2:1-8
Song of Solomon 1
Jeremiah 44-46

John 5:8-9

When do you sense the real healing in a once injured knee, in the training room or while chasing a loose ball?  When does the confidence return, while looking at an x-ray or after making the difficult cut toward the basket?  I think you know.  So did Jesus.

In John’s Gospel at chapter 5 and verses 8 and 9 we read, “Jesus said to him, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk.’  And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.”

This man had been afflicted with his infirmity for 38 years!  Along comes Jesus and he says to get up.  Say what!?  He’s been lying here for 38 years! 

I wonder when his healing took place…while lying on the mat or when he made the effort to stand and walk?  I believe the latter.  That’s why Jesus said what He did.  It’s always a heart-check when we hear someone give us a command to do the seemingly impossible.  Do we trust or do we not?

In today’s game you must trust the Lord and your coaching staff when they say, “Rise, take up your sport, and compete like a champion.”  Whether you feel like one or not, you’re called to make the play.  That’s my challenge to you as well.  Play like a champion today!

Bible Reading Plan:
John 5:15-26
I Peter 1:17-25
Ecclesiastes 12

T H E   I D E A L   T E A M M A T E
I John 3:16

Who is your model for the ideal teammate?  What does he/she do that makes him/her such a great teammate?  For me, that person is Jesus Christ.  Let’s consider him as a model today.

In John’s first letter at chapter 3 and verse 16, we read, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.  And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

That’s what a great teammate looks like, one who lays his life down for the others!  Certainly we can see that vividly in the life of Jesus.  He died a real death in our places. 

How can we, in less drastic and bloody ways, lay down our lives for our teammates?  Think about it.  We do this when we give up playing time to help develop younger players.  We do it when we sacrifice personal records or accomplishments for the good of the team.  We do it when we change positions to fill a weakness that has appeared due to an injury or illness.  A great teammate is one who lays down his life for his friends.

As you compete today, lay down your life for your team.  Give your 100% best effort throughout the competition.  Sacrifice your personal goals for those of the team and you’ll be a teammate like the Lord Jesus.

Bible Reading Plan:
John 4:43-54
I Peter 1:10-16
Jeremiah 35-38









    Sport Chaplain / Character Coach / Sport Mentor Blog

    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 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 ( )

    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.” 

    Questions for Contemplation

    Coach Joe Ehrmann’s influence in the coaching community of the United States cannot be overstated. Season of Life, by Jeffrey Marx is a book about Joe and his pilgrimage from an abusive past to a transformational present and future of coaching at Gilman School in Baltimore, MD. Joe’s book, InSideOut Coaching, is among the best books on coaching that I’ve ever read. I constantly share its principles and practices with coaches in my sphere of influence.

    I’d like to adapt and apply some of the questions Joe uses in training coaches with us today. Joe’s questions are: “Why do you coach? Why do you coach the way that you coach? What does it feel like to be coached by you? How do you define success?” Excellent and probing questions, all.
    I would like to have us consider these questions:
    1.    Why do you serve as a sports chaplain or character coach?
    2.    Why do you serve the way that you do?
    3.    What does it feel like to be served by you?
    4.    How do you define success?

    Take some time to contemplate these questions and to even write down your answers. They can become defining characteristics of your further service.

    I would like to make some direct and challenging comments about each question.
    1.    Why do you serve as a sports chaplain or character coach? If you are serving as a way of obtaining access to the team, to gain privilege, or to enhance your public profile, you are doing it badly.
    2.    Why do you serve the way that you do? If you are serving thoughtlessly, without considering the needs and the preferences of those being served, you can do much better.
    3.    What does it feel like to be served by you? If those you serve are feeling manipulated, condemned, or simply annoyed, you should consider changing your approach.
    4.    How do you define success? If your measurement for success is attendance at meetings, you may be terribly disappointed. If your measurement is conversions or baptisms, you may become quite manipulative. If your definition of success is more about long term faithfulness than immediate results, you are on the right track.

    Please join Coach Ehrmann and me in asking some difficult, probing questions of yourself. Contemplate these ideas to analyze and adjust your service of the men and women of sport toward life transformation and faithful service of Christ Jesus.


    Earlier this summer I turned sixty years of age. The summer also marked fifty years of my being a disciple of Christ Jesus. On August 1, I began my twenty-third year of serving sportspeople with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Milestones like these make old guys nostalgic, but they also make us reflect upon the changes we have experienced and the development of our lives, in particular, our lives of faith.

    One facet of my discipleship that has undergone lots of change is how I pray. From my earliest days of seeing the Lord like a mail carrier picking up requests, to later days of massive prayer lists, to years of emphasis on form or passion, to the more recent days of listening and asking questions, my prayer life has undergone constant change.

    Most recently, my prayer life is full of questions like these: What are you saying today? To whom shall I speak today? Where are You leading me? Who are You calling to Yourself? Where are new opportunities to serve? What would please You most? What scripture is most appropriate for this moment?

    Whether on the field, court, track, mat, pitch, or the pool deck, pray. At practice, training, on the sideline, in the cheap seats, in the changing room, in the training (physio) room, on the bus, on the plane, in the car, or watching via television or computer, pray. Strongly or weakly, wisely or foolishly, profoundly or mundanely, pray. Get your heart engaged with the Lord Jesus’ heart for the men and women of sport and your capacity to care for them will grow, your understanding of them will be enhanced, and your ability to speak the very words of God to them will be magnified. Pray. 

    Report from the Inaugural Global Congress on Sport and Christianity

    From 24 through 28 August, I participated in the Inaugural Global Congress on Sport and Christianity at York St. John University of York, England. It was an outstanding four days of presentations, discussions, and fellowship among academic professionals, sports ministry practitioners, and others.

    Sports Chaplaincy was one of twelve thematic strands in the congress. The sports chaplaincy strand was comprised of four sessions that included: Sports Chaplaincy Trends, Issues, and Debates led by Dr. Andrew Parker. I then made a presentation titled, Global Sports Chaplaincy: A review of the online training program created for basic, yet comprehensive chaplaincy training . Dr. Steven Waller of the University of Tennessee made a presentation titled, Globalization and the credentialing of sports chaplains: Divergent perspectives . Lastly, Anthony Maranise of Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee presented, 6 Degrees of Commonality Uniting Sports Chaplains of all Christian Traditions. Each of the presentations were well delivered and received by the large group of men and women in attendance.

    There were sports chaplains from the worlds of horse racing, motor racing, rugby, football (soccer), American football, baseball, athletics, basketball, Paralympic sports, and probably a number of others with which I am unfamiliar.

    Our sports chaplaincy colleagues were Protestant, Roman Catholic, Mormon, liberal, and conservative, with backgrounds in sport, coaching, psychology, sociology, recreation, theology, and probably other ologies I cannot even spell.

    We were among sports ministry colleagues from Athletes in Action, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Christians in Sport, the Vatican, Sports Chaplaincy UK, Sports Ambassadors, and others.

    Friday evening’s highlight was a sport themed service in York Minster, a medieval cathedral built across the years of 1220 to 1472. It is a remarkably beautiful structure and the service was very inspirational for all attendees.

    My primary interest in this congress was to further the connections between academics who research and write about matters of faith and sport, and practitioners of sports chaplaincy, like us. I believe that we each stand to enhance the others’ work if we simply, regularly, and respectfully work together. I hope to contribute to the work of many of my new colleagues in the world of academia, and I hope to continue to learn from their insightful work, analysis, and contemplative writing. I expect that the implications from this congress will ripple across the years, and its impact with be felt around the globe.

    Save the date for the next Global Congress, to be held at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan October 23-27, 2019.

    Report from Olympic Games in Rio

    Later today I will travel to participate in the Inaugural Global Congress on Sports and Christianity in York, England.  I am greatly privileged to be making two presentations during the congress and will serve as the co-strand leader for Sports Chaplaincy.

    I will report soon on the congress and its impact upon the world of sports chaplaincy.

    Below is a report from the Olympic Games in Rio by our friend and colleague, Stuart Weir of Verite Sport in the United Kingdom. He offers some unique insight into the nature of sports chaplaincy at such events. I hope it is both informative and inspirational.

    Olympic Update
    As I will not be able to send out a normal monthly update until October, I am sending two one-pagers on the Olympics and Paralympics.

    My role
    My official role was as Togo Olympic Attaché. I went to rowing, swimming and athletics to watch our athletes and attended the team welcome ceremony but in all honesty, the role was not a demanding one. Being Olympic Attaché provided an accreditation which gave me access to the athletes’ village, athlete dining, athlete transport and several behind the scenes places at sports venues. Ironically the identical accreditation in London gave me far less privileges.

    There were over 60 track and field athletes that I knew and 35 who had attended at least one Diamond League Bible Study, who were competing in the Games. Working as a team with Jules who was an official Olympic chaplain, I would say that we made contact with more than three quarters of them. Sometimes just a greeting or a hug, sometimes a prayer or a meal. Jules met several for Bible Study 1-2-1 or in groups. We were always conscious that the athletes were facing the biggest challenge of their year – career even – and that we were there to support but not make demands on them.

    Daily Email
    I was sending a daily devotional email to 50+ athletes competing in the games. Several told me that they found them helpful and encouraging.

    British Athletics
    Being in the Olympic Village and travelling on athlete buses gave lots of opportunities for informal contacts with athletes, coaches and team management, getting to know some and developing relationships with others.

    The chaplaincy at Rio was very difficult with the Rio Organizing Committee only accrediting three international chaplains, compared to 19 in London. It was impossible for a team of three to cover the responsibilities of manning the chapel, conducting 16 services a week and meeting athletes individually.


    I saw the Olympics as part of the ongoing support I try to provide for track and field athletes. It was my 10th event of the year. It was an immense privilege to be on the inside of the Olympics and I was pleased with the level of contact I had with athletes. See

    Watch Your Attitude

    Across twenty-two years of serving as a sports chaplain, the three primary, universal factors that I have found to build an effective ministry are: Relationships, Attitudes, and Presence. Today, I would like to make some simple and direct comments regarding Attitudes and how they can either enhance or diminish our service.

    ·         Be a servant, not a big shot. Serve purposefully. Do the menial tasks that need to be done in service of others. People will notice and they will respect your attitude.
    ·         Seek permission, not forgiveness. Ask for parameters. Understand your boundaries. To overstep your bounds communicates the wrong attitude.
    ·         Be thankful, out loud. Express thankfulness to those who give you access to their sporting programs in person, via text message, on paper, however you can.
    ·         Talk in terms of “responsibility and privilege” rather than “rights.” An entitled attitude is repulsive to sportspeople, especially coaches. Avoid it at all costs.
    ·         A low public profile it to be preferred over media darling. Be less interested in being a public figure, more in being an essential part of the team’s life.
    ·         Deflect praise quickly. As you do well and others praise you for what you have done, be sure to direct that praise to God and to those with whom you serve.
    ·         Beware of reflected glory. If your team is excelling, beware the allure of fame, accolades, and public adoration. It’s fun, but it can be a snare to your soul.
    ·         Remember that your contributions do not appear on the scoreboard or stat sheets. Don’t be fooled into thinking that your inspirational talk directly contributed to a victory.
    ·         Love extravagantly – it’s really hard to fail if this is your number one goal.
    ·         Serve selflessly – to do this faithfully almost always keeps one’s attitude in order.

    Please shape your attitude in ways that are reflective of Christ Jesus’ as described in Philippians chapter 2:3-8. “ Do nothing   from   selfishness or   empty conceit, but with humility of mind   regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not   merely   look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.   Have this attitude  i n yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,   who, although He   existed in the   form of God,   did not regard equality with God a thing to be   grasped,   but   emptied Himself, taking the form of a   bond-servant,   and   being made in the likeness of men.   Being found in appearance as a man,   He humbled Himself by becoming   obedient to the point of death, even   death   on a cross.

    Cultivate an Interior Life of Contemplation

    Many, if not most, of us who serve as sports chaplains or character coaches go through life at a rapid pace. We thrive on activity and move quickly from venue to venue to love and to serve sportspeople. One drawback to this sort of lifestyle is that we can become rather shallow and soon our service becomes a string of clichés and buzzwords.

    I would like to challenge each of us to cultivate an interior life of contemplation. To make regular time to contemplate God’s will, to ponder on scripture we are reading, to think deeply about important decisions and relationships, is wise and most important. Slowing down to read books, to listen to music, or to simply be still can be very helpful in our more active days.

    Don’t just go, go, go. Stop, stop, stop. Think deeply. Ponder. Listen. Contemplate. Rest.

    Find your best rhythm for such hours, days, or even weeks. Your most effective rhythm could be:
    ·         Absolute silence
    ·         Stillness
    ·         Solitary activity
    ·         Running, biking, or hiking
    ·         Listening to music in isolation
    ·         Study in ambient sound

    Sometimes we need to think beyond what to do, but also why?

    On a personal note, I brainstorm best when at a sporting event. Hearing the ambient sounds of a ballpark, the smell of hot dogs and popcorn, see the players and coaches, fuels my heart’s passions and heightens my soul’s awareness of the Lord’s voice. To write, however, I need more solitude and concentrated time to hammer out exactly what I want to say. I take the previously brainstormed first thoughts, gathered at the ballpark, and then compose into final form in a more private, quiet, and solitary place, often accompanied by soul enriching music.

    Please take my challenge to heart and find ways to develop an interior life of contemplation. You and those you serve will be directly benefited by the investments.



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.



About Us


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 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."