Did you know that the North Texas area has been ranked by Men’s Health magazine as the number one place in America to raise an athlete? I have coached or played sports for about 38 of my 44 years of life. Considering the time and energy families invest in raising an athlete, I am not so sure this number one ranking is a good thing. When I meet with parents looking for a coach for their young player, I encourage them to develop a plan for the time and resources they are willing to commit to youth sports and raising their athlete.
Recently, I was challenged to read the life resolutions of an 18-year old who lived in the early twentieth century. I was blown away at the depth of each resolution he had outlined. But what interested me most was his commitment to living a purposeful life to bring glory to our Lord. Having two boys myself, I felt convicted about the lack of depth in my own plan for raising our boys to become men through athletics. After my wife and I discussed this for several weeks, we came up with seven resolutions for our family that might help as you consider plans for your own athlete.
1. We resolve to put the glory of God first, believing that His love becomes real only through a relationship with Him.
Practically speaking, that means we will disciple our children through experiences that leave an image of a Lord who is fun, exciting, and challenging.
2. We resolve to use the experiences of sports to understand our weaknesses and strengths and to discipline our bodies according to the standard of our Lord.
Encourage your children to evaluate themselves, and remind them that their bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to ask: “Is my body strong and healthy?”
3. We resolve to look for teachable moments while training our bodies, like encouraging teamwork and healthy competition.
Focus less on your child’s performance and learn to evaluate and build your child’s heart and character through athletics.
4. We resolve to learn how to foster a love for others, valuing them more than we value ourselves.
Teaching our kids how to encourage and challenge their teammates is vital. When you teach your child to say “good game” to their teammates and competitors as they walk off the field, you are teaching them to value others.
5. We resolve to develop a growth mindset, observing and evaluating each situation and adjusting in light of our goals.
The games our kids play create multiple opportunities to develop skills of observation and flexibility so they can adjust to the environment around them.
6. We resolve as parents to use sports to discover, understand, and develop the unique gifts and abilities that God has given each of our kids.
We want our children to know that God has given to each of us certain talents and passions that He intends to use for His purpose. One of the many great gifts we can give our children is self-knowledge. If they can discover who they are, how God made them unique, and what they have to offer to His plan, then they will live a life of impact for the Kingdom.
7. We resolve to go beyond the perceived limits and capabilities we have of ourselves and discover the strength that is available only through Christ.
We often fail to realize the powers and abilities He gives us. Pushing our children beyond what they believe they are physically able to do can show them there are no limits in their future with Christ. The key is to teach them dependency on Christ for strength.
Raising kids is always challenging. Youth sports can add a greater complexity, but it also can be a great place to let kids take ownership and realize the gift of dependency on God through the difficulties the world throws at them. As parents, the youth sports experience should be about making disciples of our children and having impact on other parents and their kids. We can resolve to make our investment of time and energy in youth sports count for eternity!
John Hampton is the director of our 2016 Stonebriar All-Sports Camp. John is a lifetime baseball guy. He has coached, scouted, instructed, and trained at the professional, college, high school, and youth levels. He played Division I college baseball in Southern California. John has served as a missionary in Mexico and has held director positions for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Coaches Outreach. He has an understanding of the impact sports has on America, the Church, and the world as a whole. He has committed his life to helping us redeem the time and attention we all give to sports to grow deeper, more dependent, and more authentic in our relationship with our Creator. John is also the father of two boys and the husband of one great woman.