My children don't play organized sports much anymore, but they did a lot when they were smaller. I was big into sports as a kid. I loved basketball, and have so many fond memories of my coach and teammates. High school ball is a highlight of my life.
I do think sports can become an idol (like many things). A person can put a sporting activity or event above service to Yahweh. That's dangerous. When a parent is constantly on their child to do better and practice more, the child feels overwhelmed and pressured. The parent has then idolized the sport to the point that it takes over their own life and their child's life. Life becomes about how good the child is at basketball, or football, or softball. That's not a healthy way to live.
I think that an organized sport can be good for a child, if it's kept in its proper place. The child learns respect and how to work with a team. They learn about ups and downs. They learn discipline. These are good things.
I would always tell my children that there were 3 rules to a sport. Yes, I'm about to get spiritual here, so hold on to your hat. I think everything we do should be filtered through Holy Scripture. If you don't see things that way, you might want to stop reading here.
Rule 1: Put Yahweh First
I didn't let my children play a scheduled game if it was on the weekly Sabbath. I was teaching them priorities. When Yahweh's holy time came around, His time came first. His time was prioritized over our time and recreation. I was trying to instill in my children that Yahweh is number 1, not number 2. No matter how important a game was, Yahweh took precedent.
This wasn't always easy. I specifically remember one game my two oldest sons missed. It was an important tournament game, and my sons played first base and short stop. I almost gave in, because I didn't want to hurt the team. But I had to stick with what I had been teaching them. Yahweh comes first.
(I haven't been perfect in this area. Sometimes activities have arisen, and I've allowed my children to do them on the Sabbath. Some of this, I'm okay with. Others, I kick myself for putting Yahweh on the back burner. It's a learning process when you have children.)
Rule 2: Be like the Messiah
This is a rule that goes against the main tenant in organized sports. I taught my children that it didn't matter who won the game.
Now you've got to realize something: I'm a very competitive man. I like to win. I like to be first in everything, and I do think it's okay to try to win, but ultimately it is just a game. I have to remind myself of this when I watch the Atlanta Falcons play, because I'm a huge fan. My wife has "helped" me for years: "Matthew... remember it's just a game. It makes no real difference honey." I shake my head and mumble. (She's right you know.)
I would tell my children to be kind to everyone on the field. I'd tell them to tell the players on the opposing team "good play" when they made a hit, or caught a fly ball. I would tell my kids that when they lost, the other team had the chance to have that good feeling of winning, so they should be glad for the other team. No matter how bad you felt because you lost, rejoice because your friends got to win one.
I know that's not easy, but I didn't want my children making their life all about winning, because that's a big, fat lie. In life, there are so many losses; so many heartaches; so many disappointments. You don't always come out on top. I wanted to prepare them for that, and let them know that they are still great people even when they lose. It's no big deal, especially when it's just a ballgame.
Rule 3: Have Fun
I'd always end by telling my children to have a good time. Laugh, high five, encourage everyone, and be an example of fun. Sports are fun, if you approach them rightly, but you can't let a game steal your joy. You can't let a missed ball or a strike out make you bitter for the whole game. You've got to go into it with a mindset that you are there to enjoy some recreation with your friends.
I'd encourage any Christian parent to re-evaluate their priorities if their child is active in sports. It can be a good thing, but don't turn it into the main thing. Don't neglect the Creator who gives people their talent and ability in the first place. ✌🏼
The past few days I've been thinking about my life as a dad since the Summer of 1998. I still remember holding my firstborn daughter in my arms and crying tears of joy. She's turning 16 next month, and I'm scared to death about her driving without her Mom or myself in the car. My prayer life's been struggling though, so I guess The Lord is trying to get me back on my knees, lol...
I've always wanted to be the best dad in the world, and there have been times when I've fooled myself into thinking that I was. It's funny how that we lower the perfect standard of Yahweh's law to meet whatever we are doing at any given time in our lives. Once it's lowered we begin to think we are a great person, in this case parent, when the reality is that we fail over and over and over again. It's not that I want to fail. I want to be the best dad. I would like to be able to say that I do my best to be the dad Yahweh wants me to be to my children. But I'd be lying to Yahweh and myself if I said that. So, I can only be thankful for the times I am able by grace to have "holy moments" as a dad to my 5 children. I confess I fail miserably often, and I cling to the Father for strength, and I trust in His Son as my perfect, sinless Savior.
What I've been pondering on are 3 things that I believe every parent needs to be told. I'm not some sort of parental guru, I'm just an ordinary guy who has been a parent for almost 16 years (my oldest is almost 16 and my others are 14, 12, 10, and 5). This ordinary fellow would like to share with you these 3 things in hopes of encouraging other parents in their current or future journey.
(1) You need to realize right now that you will make mistakes in parenting. Big ones. There are so many things that I would do differently if I was starting right now. Someone might ask me for a list of all of them, but I don't have enough cyber ink to spill my friend. I couldn't give you a list if I tried, and the list is not what's important. If you are a new or young parent, you are going to learn this like every other parent, in your own way. It's part of life. You will one day look back on your life as a dad or mom and say, "I wished I would have done this or that." Just know that you are human, and when you mess up, ask your children to forgive you. Repent to them, and get back up and start again. It's a process you'll have to repeat every day in some fashion.
(2) If I had to come up with one primary child training "point," it is this: spend as much time with your children as you can. I do not like it AT ALL when I hear dad's say "It's quality time that matters, not quantity." It makes me want to slap them silly back into reality, lol. The more time you spend with your children, the more they will know you love them. Have as much fun with them as possible. (We all spend our time and money on what we love the most, and your kids will know that as they get older. That paper trail never lies.) Teach them the Bible, play games with them, swim with them, go on vacation with them, homeschool them, talk to them, take them out for dinner or a movie, eat with them, joke around with them, tell them you love them and that you are thankful for them. They are Yahweh's blessing to you. Don't forget that.
(3) When you discipline your children, don't forget about the amount of grace and mercy Yahweh has shown and continues to show you as an adult. When our children blatantly disobey, we immediately want to lash out in anger. I've disciplined my kids in anger and I feel miserable after it's over. Send them to their room or even outside for a while and give yourself time to cool off. They need to be trained and disciplined, but it needs to because you are genuinely concerned for their well being. Think about all the times you fail your Heavenly Father, and then go back to Him again and ask for His forgiveness. Our children aren't angels, no matter how much we think they are. They are sinners, just like us, and they need the strong arm of the law, but they need the sweetness of the gospel as well. Remember Paul wrote to the Romans that it's the kindness of Yahweh that leads men to repentance.
Of course there's tons more, but this is all I've got for the past few days. Hope you don't mind me sharing my brain with you.
~ Matthew Janzen
It is extremely important that we do not forget the importance of family. Family is often overlooked in many ways in modern America. For example:
It is not very often that you know of people who take the time to diligently teach their children the Torah of Almighty Yahweh. People fly to countries across the globe and travel to cities far, far away from their homes in their own country. The entire time their children sit without the daily influence of their parents teaching them through the Scriptures. The best mission field a husband and wife has is their children. They should make sure that their children are receiving the proper teaching, training, attention, nurture, and discipline that they need.
When you spend both quantity and quality time with your children they will be a blessing to you. So many people "can't wait" for summer to be over so their "kids" can go back to school. They pour over the web looking for a daycare for even their littlest ones. It is a shame that Mothers work and then the Fathers allow their children to be thrown into the government school system where their little minds will be filled with humanistic, atheistic garbage for 8 hours every day. Then these same parents wonder why their children misbehave, are disrespectful to adults, and could care less what their parents tell them. Some parents pass it off by saying something like, "Well it's just the 'terrible twos'," or "Their just going through a 'phase'." What's really happening is that they are not being the missionary they out to be to their very own children. They have sold their children for television, sports, hobbies, "me time," etc.
Take time to spend with your children and teach them Scriptures diligently. You will not be wasting your life doing so.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.