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How To Be a Little League Parent And Still Act Like a Christian

April 26, 2016

It’s the bottom of the last inning of the game.  Bases are loaded with one out.  We are winning 6-5.  My 9-year-old son is on the mound.  If I had a pacemaker it would have needed new batteries after the game.  I am praying, “Lord, let him come through so that he can go home feeling good about himself.”  I pray with intensity.  When is the last time I have prayed in worship or on behalf of the lost like this?  It’s hard to say.

Maybe you have been in a similar situation as a little league parent.  It’s not an easy thing to watch your child on the line and to deal with the residual stress.  Unfortunately, the little league field is a place where the worst of adult behavior is seen – even by Christians.  Furthermore, our world has made such an idol of sports that Christian parents are struggling with how to be involved with sports without it supplanting Jesus as the Lord of their life.  So, here are a few suggestions to help Christian little league parents be…well…Christian.

(1) Don’t make your kid’s performance about your self-esteem.  This is really difficult.  So easily we feel that how are kids perform says something about what kind of parent we are.  We get embarrassed and really angry when they fail.  We swell with pride when they succeed.  But this isn’t healthy.  It’s called enmeshment.  The reason parents overreact is because their self worth is at stake.  Take a breath and remember.  IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.  There’s this thing called humility which means that we don’t approach every situation in terms of how we are effected.

(2)  Don’t let your passion about sports surpass your passion about Jesus.  If your kid sees you yelling, pumping your first, clapping, and shouting out at the ball field and then stand like a statue during worship then your passion has revealed your priorities.  Your heart is in sports but not connected to Jesus.  I don’t think it’s wrong to be passionate about sports, as long as it isn’t sinful behaviors.  But your passion must be greater for God who we are called to love with all out heart, mind, soul, and body.  So sing…loud…pray with your heart, and let your affections for Jesus flow. Let your kids see that Christ is worthy of all our praise.

(3)  Monitor your investments into sports versus your investments into your kids discipleship.  How much time, money, conversation, and instruction do you give your kids about sports and how much into their relationship with Christ?  Anything that receives more than Jesus is an idol.  I don’t adhere to the idea that Christians must disconnect from the world to follow Jesus.  That is called asceticism and it can be dangerous.  We are meant to be in the world but not of the world.  With that said, if our investments in sports out rank our spiritual investments then what message are we sending our kids.  What good does it do to gain a championship but lose your own soul?

(4) See your little league as a mission field.  You will come into contact with kids and family who need the love of Jesus.  You aren’t there ultimately to win a game, you are there to take the gospel in word and deed to those who need Christ.  You sit with people and get to know them week after week.  What if those are divine appointments?

(5) Our  kids need humility as much as self-esteem.  Making our kids feel special has become our primary goal.  Sports is one of the ways this happens when our kids thrive.  We want them to be winners and to beat the competition.  What we fail to realize is that winning can have its own spiritual trap, namely pride.  Pride is the source of great destruction, personal blindness, and vulnerability to moral decay.  Basically pride will chew you up, spit you out and make you a horrible person.  If your kids are amazing athletes, their spiritual challenge is to guard their hearts from pride and to seek humility.  Pride comes before the fall.

(6)  Being right does not give you the right to act wrong.  If you are right in the wrong way it is called sin.  There’s a reason that many of the virtues and spiritual fruit the Bible lists have to do with how we treat people:  patience, gentleness, sacrifice, etc.  If you yell, threaten, and attack on the little league field you are sinning and are bringing shame to Christ.  Period.

I struggle with many of these.  My prayer is that we won’t be different people in church and on the field.  Christ wants all of us everywhere we go.  Don’t check your faith at the door…or the court…or the field.

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