Biblical Responses to Sports Culture

An Athlete’s Survival Guide to Being Back at Home

By April 1, 2020 No Comments

You should be with your teammates right now. You should be competing for championships—or at the very least, for a starting spot. You should be studying for the exam tomorrow morning or writing the 15-page paper your professor gave you an extension on because you were traveling last weekend. But you’re not.

You’re back home. Like everyone else.

Home could be defined in a myriad of different ways. I don’t assume all of you are back in your house with the white picket fence, sleeping in your old bedroom, chilling with your dog that is somehow still alive, and eating family dinners with your still happily married parents and your 2.5 brothers and sisters. 

I know some of you come from broken homes. Divorce. Adultery. Stepparents. Single parents. No parents. Grandparents. The list goes on. But home is still home to you. I’m acknowledging this right off the start so I don’t need to clarify throughout the list below of 10 ways to honor God during your time at home. When I say parents or your mom and dad, you can substitute that for whoever you are living with right now if you are back home. 

I’m trying to paint using a broad brush with these ideas. If one doesn’t apply to your situation, skip it, forgive me, and move on to the next one.

Here we go.

Take interest in siblings sport/hobbies

You may still be an athlete, but now is a great opportunity to take on the role of a cheerleader for your sibling(s). 

Philippians 2:3-4 says “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Maybe you have been your brother or sister’s hero growing up. Maybe they’ve secretly resented you for stealing the spotlight all these years. You most likely fall somewhere in the middle of those extremes. But now is your opportunity to make them feel like the hero. 

Tell them to find some videos of them playing—and watch them in their entirety. Affirm them. Celebrate them. If they ask for tips, give them. But don’t critique unless it’s invited. Use this time to show you are interested in what they do. 

Side note: if your sibling isn’t an athlete, find whatever hobby they enjoy and engage in it with them.

Be present when you’re present

I understand the temptation to constantly look down at your phone. But try practicing being present with your family while you’re home. During meals, put your phone on silent or leave it in your room (if you still have one). Speaking of meals…

Find ways to serve

Make a meal for your family. Vacuum the living room. Sweep the floor. When you wake up in the morning (hopefully you’re not sleeping until the afternoon), ask one of these questions to your mom or dad: 

  • What do you need from me today?
  • How can I help you today?
  • Is there anything I can do to make your life easier today?

Realize you’re not the only one hurting and inconvenienced

Listen, I know that sports being ripped away from you without any warning is a significant gut punch. It sucks. Perhaps the only comfort is knowing it happened to every other athlete on the planet. But this thing has affected more than just athletes. This is a healthy time to remember—and this may sound harsh—but the world does not revolve around you. 

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t grieve the loss of your sport. You should. It just means to do so knowing that others in the house are probably grieving the loss of things that were significant to them as well. And just because they didn’t have hundreds or thousands of fans cheering for them does not mean their “thing” was not as significant as yours.

Refuse to gossip (to your parents and about your parents)

A great way to honor your parents is to speak well of them when they are not in your presence. During this crisis, this probably means not texting your friends about them. Proverbs 15:28 offers us wise counsel: “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.”

If speaking well of your parents proves too difficult, the timeless advice of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” is worthy of your consideration. If they said something, did something or didn’t do something that did not meet your expectations (did you communicate that expectation to them?), go to them directly.

Make memories

I pulled my nine-year-old out of bed this week to watch Lord of the Rings. Not the entire trilogy, just the first movie. When this period of isolation is over, I want him to look at it and remember the time dad let him stay up late to watch a movie with him. I want to leverage this time to make memories. 

Athlete, find ways to have fun with your family during this unique season of life. Make the most of it. Laugh at dumb YouTube and TikTok videos together. Do something stupid (assuming it’s also legal) with your siblings. Get creative and make some memories. 

You don’t need to tell your parents everything, but give them something

Yes, I know you would rather be training with your teammates and competing in the sport you love. Maybe you would even prefer getting yelled at by your coach. But here you are, back in your old room, dreading going downstairs for dinner and talking to your parents. 

You don’t have to tell your parents everything. They don’t need to know every detail of every category of your life. But please give them something. Remember that commandment in the Bible that talks about honoring your father and mother? Well, at a foundational level, honoring them means talking to them. 

If you can’t think of anything to say, try this strategy:

  • Read the Bible in the morning
  • When they ask how your day was, start with “I was reading the Bible this morning and learned about or was challenged by ____________.” 

Assume the best

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that your parents love you. They may not be very good at showing it all of the time (I realize even that may be a massive understatement), but I would encourage you to think the best of them. A great way to honor them is to assume the best about them—even if they have given you ample evidence to think otherwise. 

Something I am trying to grow at with everyone in my life is viewing them through their strengths instead of their weaknesses. If it’s still hard to love them, I try to remember Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” 

Reminding myself that the person who is annoying me is created to reflect the image of God is a humbling exercise and often the reality check I need.

Be thankful

In light of sports ceasing to exist for the time being, here is a challenging verse to consider from 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Do you know what God’s will is for you right now? Look at the verse again. Find ways to be thankful in this moment. That’s his will for you. 

Find ways to thank your parents for ways that they have supported you as an athlete. Whether that’s through coaching you at a young age, driving you to and from practices, attending games, paying ungodly amounts of money for you to be on travel squads and anything else they may have done to help get you where you are today. Honor them by recognizing some of the sacrifices they have made and thank them.

Apologize

Even if you fail miserably at the previous nine suggestions, you can make up for it with this one. Apologize when you mess up. And you will. The mark of a Christian is not perfection, it’s forgiveness. Ask for it as often as needed.

If you start with this list and try to apply some of what was mentioned, it will set you up for a God-honoring time back at home. Self awareness helps too and will make this “at home” process go more smoothly. There is a place to maturely say to your parents something like this:

“Here’s what would make this work for me.”

“Could we try _________?”

“This is what’s hard for me…could we operate like this?”

Athlete, God can be glorified through your time at home. Be intentional.

P.S. If you want me to send you some free resources (including the first chapter of my book The Assist: A Gospel-Centered Guide to Glorifying God Through Sports, subscribe below and I will send you some great stuff! I promise not to spam you either:)



Brian Smith

Author Brian Smith

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