By Teresa Kindred
Children and sports. The two should be a perfect match up. Athletics should be an outlet for a child's boundless energy. Do children see sports as a means of relaxation and a way to be physically fit? Or have our children been taught that "Winning is everything"?
It isn't unusual for today's best athletes to demand salaries in the millions. They become rich and famous. They are idolized by children and adults. They become better known than Elijah, Peter, or Paul.
From the very first little league game, a child sees adults more excited over a ballgame than they've ever been over a church service. Parents faithfully attend every practice, every game. But when Sunday morning comes, they're too tired to take the family to church.
What are we telling our children? That sports are more important than church? That a coach expects 110%, but God will take less? Would a God who required the "best" oil, the "best" wine, the "best" wheat, the "best" of the first fruits, really settle for anything less than our "best"? (Num. 18:12)
There's nothing wrong with children being involved in athletics. It's a wonderful way to relieve tension and attain physical fitness. Competing can teach many valuable lessons, but it's the adults responsibility to keep things in the proper perspective by teaching children that winning isn't everything.
This is no easy task. Especially with examples of inappropriate behavior by athletes every day on the news. But the truth is, no matter how disappointed we are if our team loses the big game, we will survive. And there is much to be said for an athlete who knows how to be a gracious loser.
Let's teach our children that the value of competition is in the friendships they make with team members, and the experiences they share. Tell them to concentrate on the joy of having done their very best.
We must be aware that there is a much bigger "Prize" at stake. Eternity is forever. Our salvation is one game that we can't afford to lose.
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