Activating a Christian Mindset in Sports
Whether it’s the parents, the coaches, the refs, the fans, or the players themselves, there’s a lot of intensity in private high school sports. Everyone is wanting the same outcome, to win, and they’re willing to do what it takes to make that happen.
Competition drives many of us, but it’s also inherently not the kind of Christian mindset that Jesus would want us to have. Jesus doesn’t teach us to beat others or to put others down, and we certainly don’t want to relish interminably in the attitude that we’re the best — this leaves us thinking others are inferior.
And yet, we’re not wrong for wanting to win the game or score the winning basket. But where’s the balance? How can we do our best at sports and help our team, while also keeping a Christian mindset?
These are some tough questions, but our private high school is here to provide some guidance. High school athletics are an important part of the Resurrection Christian School framework, and we’re proud of our Cougars! Find some advice on how to incorporate Christianity with high school athletics, and find information on enrollment, admissions, and activities at RCS!
When everyone is telling you you’re a star, it’s all too easy to buy into that mindset. Every single person is so special in the Lord’s eyes, and every single person is unique. Staying humble doesn’t mean cancelling out this fact, it’s just recognizing that you are human, and that God is greater than us all.
As a high school athlete, you can start practicing humility by thinking about what’s something you did well each game or practice, and what’s something you can improve on. The things you do well shouldn’t always be about goals or points, either. Thinking about how hard you worked, how you incorporated your teammates, or how you dealt with a tough call from the ref are all huge things to be proud of.
Similarly, when thinking about things to improve on, consider any attitudes you may have carried throughout the game — towards other players or yourself. Were you too hard on others? Were you talking negatively to yourself? Did you mess up a goal because you weren’t as confident or you didn’t think things through as well as you could have? Staying humble is less about the points you did or didn’t score or the assists you did or didn’t have, and much more about how you approached the game and players as a whole.
Refs, like the rest of us, are human, and they will make bad calls. While it’s easy to assume favoritism or purposefully turning a blind eye, the best thing you can do is to forgive and forget. Getting hung up on the plays that could have (or in some instances, should have) been keeps you from growing.
The same attitude applies towards your coaches — trust their judgment, and while you can always ask questions and see what they’re thinking, remember that timing and approach is key. Is your coach more open to a conversation when there’s five minutes left on the clock? Or would they be more willing to sit down with you when you’ve cooled down and it’s not in the heat of the moment?
Finally, be forgiving of teammates and the opposing team, and be forgiving of yourself as well! Sports can breed some major feelings of inadequacy and resentment, and that’s not what it should be about. Jesus teaches us to forgive those who trespass against us — sometimes that person trespassing against us can be ourselves. Hard times and moments happen. Our private high school wants you to always play your best, whether on the court or off, but we also want you to carrying a loving and empathetic attitude towards all whom you encounter.
Reflect on Scripture
Wait, the Bible doesn’t talk about football, right? Not exactly, but there are plenty of relevant teachings from Jesus. When giving the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus mentions things that every athlete could stand to remember:
- Competition: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”
- Takeaway: Every game is a competition, but it’s necessary to treat others with respect.
- Trophies: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
- Takeaway: Trophies might seem like the most important thing, especially when thinking about what they represent. However, your love of the game should always be your reason for playing.
- Grit: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”
- Takeaway: Don’t give up! This passage doesn’t mean to be salty, it’s all about being true to yourself and persevering. When tough times happen for you or your team, use them as a way to grow.
Play to Win, But Play Fairly
No matter what someone else might be telling you, there is never an OK time to cheat. Honesty absolutely pays for itself, time and again. You don’t want to give your team the reputation of one who doesn’t play fairly. Jesus asks that all of us are honest and open in everything that we do. Make sure you uphold this tenet of Christianity when you’re out there on the field — it will ultimately help you, your character, and even your team in the long run.
When our private high school says “accept losses,” we don’t mean to say that you should just give up regardless of the outcome of the game. Instead, we think that sometimes so much emphasis is put on winning that a loss can feel like the end of the world instead of a moment for growth.
You are going to lose games — but that’s part of how you get better! The LeBron Jameses and Brittney Griners of the world didn’t become some of the best basketball stars of all time because of nonstop wins. Their success is deeply tied to their losses and how they learned from them.
If you treat a loss like the end of the world and a defining moment for you as an athlete and person, you’re not going to get better. You’ll end up feeling pretty stuck and hopeless. If you treat losses like a lesson and an opportunity for improvement, you’ll come away feeling inspired and motivated, and it will absolutely impact your game.
As a private school in Loveland serving elementary, middle, and high school students, Resurrection Christian School is committed to bettering the character and education for every child. We want sports to be fun, exciting, motivating, and a source of wellness. When keeping Christianity in mind, this can all happen. Find out more about our athletic programs and inquire about enrollment today!