How Christian Athletes And Coaches Can Respond To COVID-19

How Christian Athletes And Coaches Can Respond To COVID-19

Coronavirus has turned the sports world on its head with the cancellation of sporting events, championships and entire seasons. The end of the school year has been cut short. The hours of work in the weight room, in practice and on the field of competition can feel like they have been a waste.

As Christians involved in sport, we need to faithfully respond to a hurting world in a way that reflects the peace we have in Christ. Here are three biblical principles that can help us respond in times of disappointment, fear and crisis.

Hurt With Those Who are Hurting

Many times we are too quick to offer advice and too slow to offer consolation. We talk more than we listen, and we rationalize more than we empathize.

The disappointment of a lost season or the loss for a senior who was unable to finish their career is difficult to put into words -- which is often why our words can feel empty in times of grief. The more you devote yourself to something, the harder it is when it comes to an end.

Our disappointed athletes need the ministry of presence more than anything. Although it is difficult to be physically present during this time, they need to feel the support of those who have been alongside them throughout their journey. Coaches, parents and teammates can offer valuable words of encouragement (not advice), thoughtful reflection and hope for the future.

In times where traditional methods of consolation can be logistically challenging, we have the freedom in Christ to creatively find ways to come alongside those who are hurting.

Think about a creative way you can encourage the athlete in your life with a note, video, photo album, memory, phone call, or anything else that would breathe life into him or her during this difficult time.

Turn Fear Into Faith

Author Matthew Lee Anderson (with The Gospel Coalition) wrote this recently, “COVID-19 is a palpable reminder of how deeply insecure our lives really are, of how vain our pretenses to control the world can be. Fear of the coronavirus is not the fear of the Lord. Yet it is a sign of such a fear, a shadow that has fallen across our path which reminds us to look upward as we walk.”

Fear is a natural human emotion; it helps us prepare for the future and fight complacency. It signals to our brain threats in the world and helps us react accordingly. Fear can be a positive emotion when it prepares us for the future, reminds us of our human frailty and refocuses us on God.

Events like the coronavirus pandemic should remind us of our own insecurity and reliance on God during all seasons of life. In times of abundance we can easily revert to self-reliance; reducing our fear in God and increasing confidence in our own abilities.

Fear of the Lord disrupts our false security when pride in our own abilities is transformed into reliance in God’s eternal purposes.

Let us turn our fear into faith as we look upward to the God who so richly provides everything we need for life and godliness.

Redefine Success

In times of crisis, it is helpful to go back to first principles. We can use this time of reflection to examine the reasons WHY we play, coach and compete. When the traditional measures of success are taken off the table, we must redefine success around more eternal parameters.

The hardship of today can lead to the success of tomorrow if we are intentional in our approach.

As we reflect on lost and shortened seasons, in the midst of our disappointment, use these questions to reflect on the reasons behind WHY we play, coach and compete:

How do we deal with the disappointment of a journey that doesn’t end the way we want it to?

How do we grow in times of uncertainty?

How do we redefine success in the midst of unusual circumstances?

If I strip all external measures of success away (trophies, awards, winning, etc.) WHY do I play or coach?

What is a godly definition of success in the context of a sports season or over the course of a career?

How can we find contentment in the midst of chaos?

Redefining success helps to clarify our purpose (the WHY behind the WHAT and the HOW) regardless of external circumstances. It helps reshape our limited perspective of what constitutes a successful season or career.

As Christians, we are never guaranteed success (as the world defines it), but we are guaranteed a God who can empathize with our circumstances. We are not guaranteed an easy life, but we are guaranteed an easy yoke. We are not guaranteed clear answers to life’s problems, but we are guaranteed a path toward purpose.

Find time today to actively reflect on the purpose and calling God has on your life and career. For more resources to help you with this reflection feel free to reach out at Quinn.mcdowell@aretehoops.com

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