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. ✌🏼
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.
What are you living for? I mean really - what do you live for each and every day? If you are a genuine Bible believer then you should recognize that this current life, when compared to the backdrop of eternity, is nothing more than a drop of water in a bucket. Yet how few professors of the faith actually live for the kingdom rather than live for the world. People spend so much energy on fancy cars and houses, on just the right color paint for this project and that. They make extra sure that they have exactly what they want and they are sure to do everything they can to obtain it. Look at how many fathers today work and work and work and spend absolutely zero time in communion with God and as little time as possible in communion with their wife and children. Wives are neglected for what, a sporting event? Children are neglected by being placed into an unholy government school system where they learn for 8 hours a day from people who do not live for God in the least extent of the word. So there they learn a worldview that is totally secular and humanistic. Then at times parents wonder what happened when there children grow up and do not live for God. How silly; they are just mimicking there parents, but the parents are to naïve to even realize that their living for their selves rather than for the heavenly Father.
This life is so short. The Biblical book of James tells us that this life is but a vapor; here today and gone tomorrow. We really do not know what this very day has in store for us. Will we make it through the day? Only God knows. Will we see tomorrow? There is only one who knows the answer to that question. Where are you laying up your treasures? What goals have you set for your spiritual life? Are you more worried about your next pay check than you are about serving God? Are you more interested in what’s coming on television than taking time out daily to read and also study God’s word? Have you even told the Father that you love Him lately? And if you have, do you really love Him? Do you keep His commandments?
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.