for everyone who wants their children to love sports, but love Jesus more

February 25, 2016

Playing any sport is really a gift. It is not a must, but rather a fun opportunity to enjoy one more thing this life offers with our children. More than likely, for most, it will not be a career. It may not bring fame or fortune. But, it could just bring something far more important. Something life-changing. Something earth-shattering for our children. Sports can teach our children (and us) great lessons. Ones that can last for a lifetime. Some that may impact your child’s character in a way that nothing else will. Yes, sports are very important, but more so than the sport is the lesson that accompanies it.

It is sad, and I must confess,  all too often I have gotten more caught up in the position I wanted them to play or the number of great plays I hoped they would make than I did in recognizing just how God might be using the game to shape their hearts. To mold their character. To help teach them things they really need to know in life.

As this spring season is already in full swing for our family, I have realized that there are some really great things I hope for my boys to gain this year. And, yes, of course I would love a few home runs and great plays, but more so, I want them to grow and learn and evolve into faithful men who love their sports, but love Jesus more.

So here you go. These are a few of the things I want them to find or have or do in the great sports arena of life.  Sometimes, I just need to be reminded of how big HIS plans are for them. On the field or off.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. { Jeremiah 29:11-3}

Thankfulness. For good health. That they would be thankful for legs that can run and arms that can swing and feet that can kick. Realizing that not all children can do these things and others may never have the opportunity. It truly is a gift not to be taken lightly.

Kindness. That they would grow to care more about their teammates than the game. An encouraging word or supportive hand will outlast any win by a long shot.

Respect. That they would learn to always respect their coaches, even if they disagree with their choices. Realizing that the coach often sees a much greater picture than they do (or their parents for that matter). Much like God does for all of us.

For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths. {Proverbs 5:21}

Understanding. That they would look at the other team as Jesus does.  Not just as an opponent, but as one more opportunity to treat others as  Jesus would. Acknowledging any defeat with their heads held high and ‘good game!’ on the tips of their tongues.

Gratitude. That they would be grateful for the rules of the game and those who try to enforce them. Knowing that they are not perfect, but rather human just like all of us. They will make mistakes, but gratefully none of their calls will be life or death.

Appreciative. That they would appreciate the time their parents devote to supporting them. Thanking them often for encouraging them and providing what they need.

Wisdom. That they would see their time on the bench or in their least favorite position or in the losers bracket as an opportunity. One in which their character can grow and they can learn to handle adversity unselfishly. Without complaining.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, {Philippians 2:14}

Diligent. That they would understand what it means to work hard for something and that they could see the fruit of their labors. Striving each practice and game to work as if working for the Lord, not for themselves or their coaches.

Whatever work you do, do it with all your heart. Do it for the Lord and not for men. {Colossians 3:23}

Opportunity. That they would make the most of every opportunity. To make a play on the field, but more importantly to make a difference in someone’s life.  To reach out a hand or pat on the back when needed and to just be a good friend.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. {Colossians 4:5}

God’s favor. That they would grow in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.  Just like Jesus did.

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. {Luke 2:52}

Yes, this is my overall prayer for this season, and every season of their lives.  And, by seeking His kingdom first, all those other things might be given to them as well.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. {Matthew 6:33}

And, yes, friends, I know. I need all these things, too. Not just for my boys.

I need to seek Him first and trust Him more in the lives of my children.

In sports. And, in all things.

Grateful He is able.




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  • Reply Jennifer February 27, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    Beautifully articulated piece. I love your heart and fully agree. I wish more people could read this. As a pastor’s wife, I might add when you have a choice between ball and church, choose church (worshiping our Savior) every time. It preaches to the world without hearing a sermon. It also shows the church what–or Who–you truly value.

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 4, 2016 at 10:49 am

      Thank you so much for your encouragement! I am praying we all learn to live our lives with HIM at the forefront. Praying for you as well, Jennifer, in your ministry as a pastor’s wife. I know you must touch many hearts and lives in this role, and what a blessing those of you who serve in this way are to all of us! As for this nationwide press to play sports on Sunday, I completely understand how you feel. We once participated and really missed our church family during those seasons. I do feel compelled to share something though, as our family once managed a travel ball team, it became a great place of ministry. We were able to share God’s love with our team’s families in so many ways, and yes, even had our own devotionals and church on weekends when we played. It really did allow us to touch families who might not have been exposed to that type of commitment to Him before or typically in a church on Sundays. I know this is not the norm for most, but I can honestly say I am so grateful for how He used that time in our lives. I pray we all would find a way to be where He needs us, when He needs us, and in tune with His plans for the kingdom. I completely agree that He should always come first. To Him be all the glory forever and ever!

    • Reply Todd Clough August 8, 2017 at 6:10 pm

      This is well said and says everything that we as parents need to be saying to our children. God Bless

  • Reply Bdyke February 28, 2016 at 7:22 am

    I like this article as it reflects a lot of the reasons I encourage my sons to play sports. On thing you hinted that I think is worth its own bullet point – sports are an opportunity not only to know how to handle oneself in victory, but also in defeat. Failure and how we deal with it is an important part of life – spiritually and psychologically. Sports are a great opportunity to learn those lessons well as there is usually a clear winner or loser, not to mention the possibility of personal failure. If they learn those lessons well on the ball field, they are better equipped to handle failure in life and ministry as they grow into adulthood.

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 2, 2016 at 9:32 am

      I appreciate you taking the time to comment and encourage me. Yes, I completely agree with you in regards to failure and our children learning to deal with it. And, deal with it in a Christ-like manner. Too many times we as parents rush in before allowing our children the opportunity to fail, and in turn, learn from that failure. I pray we all learn to trust God in the failures and successes in life. That our children would see HIS hand in both and understand that HIS plans are much greater than we could ever imagine. Thank you again. I have been touched by every comment, share, Tweet and subscriber. I am praying for every single person who has had the opportunity to read this. To HIM be all the glory forever!

  • Reply Shaun Denton February 28, 2016 at 11:06 am

    As a mom of 3 baseball players this is my prayer! Thank you for sharing and for allowing God to speak through you!

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 2, 2016 at 9:28 am

      Thank you for your kind words, Shaun. To HIM be all the glory forever! Blessings to you during this busy season with your boys. Praying we all bring HIM much glory as we strive to lead our children closer to HIM every single day!

  • Reply Doris Thomas February 28, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Love this and more people need to read this and understand, sport does built character, relationships and the list goes on and always love God more than the sport. Games use to be one of the few places where you new God was always there, as we always had a prayer to keep them safe, unfortunately those days are gone. God bless coaches who are really there for their kids.

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 2, 2016 at 9:26 am

      Thank you for your comments, Doris. I, too, am saddened as to where our country has gone in regards to welcoming God into our public events. I am praying this will change and we will see God everywhere again in our great nation! Blessings to you and yours as we strive to love HIM more.

  • Reply Great Link For Baseball Parents | Crusaders Baseball February 28, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    […] for everyone who wants their children to love sports, but love Jesus more […]

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 2, 2016 at 9:24 am

      Thank you so much for sharing this post and leaving a comment. I actually went to your site and enjoyed the great verses and encouragement there. Your parents and players are blessed for these great reminders! Praying for your organization to continue to shine HIS light! Blessings for a fun, God-filled season!

  • Reply Cindy February 29, 2016 at 7:20 am

    This is wonderful. My husband is managing my son’s team this year and I am one of those mom’s who can get really caught up in the competition so this is a great scripture-filled reminder of where my focus should remain. Thanks for a great article!

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 2, 2016 at 9:22 am

      I too have been the wife of the coach and the team mom for years. It is so easy to focus on the here and now and forget our eternal perspective during a close game! Praying we all have a fresh sense of HIS purpose as we start this new season. Blessings to you and yours this season! I have a feeling God may use you in a powerful way!

  • Reply Sharon Mullin February 29, 2016 at 8:13 am

    What a great article! Great verses to memorize and teach to my young athletes! THANK YOU!

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 2, 2016 at 9:19 am

      Thank you for taking the time to encourage me, Sharon. I am so grateful for every comment. I completely agree. Those are just a few of my favorite verses to share with my boys and to pray over them. God is so good! To HIM be all the glory as we strive to raise Godly young athletes. Blessings!

  • Reply Linda Jo Armstrong February 29, 2016 at 9:02 am

    This is exactly my heart for my daughter who plays softball! And as an extension of the game… and for us as a family! My daughter wears a scripture on her jersey …Joshua in the place of her name and 1:9 as her number to reference Joshua 1:9 scripture… STRONG AND COURAGEOUS through Jesus Christ in all that we do… It is so much more than just the game….

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 2, 2016 at 9:18 am

      I love that your daughter shares that verse on her jersey – it is one of my favorites! Grateful for her testimony through her love for the game. Blessings to her and her team this year! To HIM be all the glory forever!

      • Reply Linda Jo Armstrong May 25, 2016 at 3:25 pm

        Someone just sent me this article again because they thought of my daughter… since my first response to you she has picked up on a tourney team…and God has been so good to us! The first tournament a lady says as we walk through the gate ” I see your daughter’s name is Joshua? There has to be a story behind that…” so I share the Word of God with her… now while my daughter plays ball scripture is called across the field and we know that Gods Word does not go out void! Giving God all the glory for allowing us to share His Word on the ballfield!

  • Reply Lisa Moody February 29, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    What a point on and timely post! Thanks for sharing these thoughts and your heart!

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 2, 2016 at 9:16 am

      Thank you, Lisa, for encouraging me through your comments! To HIM be all the glory forever. Blessings to you and yours!

  • Reply michael February 29, 2016 at 2:32 pm


    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 2, 2016 at 9:10 am

      Thank you for taking the time to encourage me! To Him be all the glory forever.

  • Reply Melissa Spoon February 29, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    What a wonderful perspective….I love that sports teaches my child life lessons, but wow, what could my child teach others to show Christ’s love for them. Using her talent to spread God’s love is nothing new for her, but this puts it into an amazing perspective, it touched me very much.

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 2, 2016 at 9:14 am

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and encourage me, Melissa. I am grateful that God has used this post to touch so many hearts. I give HIM all the credit and all the glory forever! Blessings to you and yours!

  • Reply Mike Nutter March 1, 2016 at 7:48 am

    This is a really great piece. You have an awesome perspective. I will be sharing with many folks on twitter. I applaud you for your attitude and faith. To God Be The Glory

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 2, 2016 at 9:12 am

      Thank you for taking the time to encourage me and share this post. I give God all the credit for this one. And, yes, to HIM be all the glory forever!

  • Reply Kristene March 1, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Thank you for this great read. I am printing it up to share with my family.

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 2, 2016 at 9:15 am

      Thank you, Kristene! I really appreciate those of you who took the time to comment and offer me encouragement. Grateful God worked through me so you could share this with your family. To HIM be all the glory forever! Blessings to you and yours!

  • Reply Jodi March 1, 2016 at 9:59 am

    This is EXACTLY how I feel! Thank you so much for putting these words out there. Great article!

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 1, 2016 at 1:34 pm

      I am grateful for your encouragement! Please register to receive emails if you haven’t already. To Him be all the glory forever. Blessings to you and yours!

  • Reply Traci E. March 1, 2016 at 10:54 am

    This is beautiful and an eloquent summary of how God uses us in all situations to learn more about Him and to BE more like Him. Thank you so much for the reminder for me as I have definitely fallen into that trap of pride that can accompany sports achievements.

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 1, 2016 at 1:31 pm

      Yes, I have fallen in the same trap, unfortunately. Please register to receive emails if you haven’t already. I am so grateful for your encouragement! To God be all the glory forever! Blessings!

  • Reply Kelly Bonds March 1, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Jennifer, love that this was shared on a friend’s wall and grateful I stumbled across this. Well written and such and encouragement and reminder of what we are striving for in our kids lives on and off the fields. Thank you!

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 2, 2016 at 9:10 am

      Kelly, Thank you so much for taking the time to leave such encouraging words. I appreciate your friend for sharing! Yes, we are all striving, and trusting for HIM to provide all we need in the lives of our children. He is so faithful. To Him be all the glory forever! Blessings to you and yours!

  • Reply Marsha Heyboer March 2, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Excellent article, with many thought provoking concepts that are so important for Christian parents to instill in our children (and not just the athletes!) One reality of today’s athletic programs for kids that has truly become problematic is the ever increasing Sabbath Day sports schedules. Are we sacrificing the call to worship in the house of the Lord, so Junior can kick a soccer ball around a field? I cringe when I hear parents express a desire to attend worship, but a ball game pre-empts the command to sanctify the Lord’s Day. If we really do want our children to love the Lord more than sports, wouldn’t the worship and praise of his Holy Name take precedence? A point worth taking from this article – sports are temporal; our call to serve our God is for eternity

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 4, 2016 at 9:54 am

      Thank you for your encouraging words. May we all seek to honor HIM first in every part of our lives! To HIM be all the glory forever and ever! Blessings!

  • Reply Caleb March 2, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    God picks the people to lead that you would have never thought. You should believe in him always when you are in a situation or have a problem, you can pray or ask for forgiveness and ask that he will stay by your side and he will. If you know anybody that doesn’t know God, tell them that he died for them and took stripes on his back for us. He loves us. I hope you know he loves you.

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 4, 2016 at 9:53 am

      Yes, I do know HE loves me and for that I am eternally grateful! Blessings to you as you live daily surrounded by HIS presence and covered by his grace. I agree, let’s tell the world about HIS great sacrifice!!

  • Reply nikki March 2, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    Shared this. Saved this. Loved this.

    Thank you! So many great reminders. My prayer is the exact same as yours. Winning seasons come and go but character and a heart for JESUS lasts a lifetime. May we all strive to raise athletes who would be salt and light among their peers. Thankful for this great tool and will be incorporating these verses somehow into a framed piece in my daughters room! ❤️

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 4, 2016 at 9:52 am

      So grateful for your encouraging words! Oh, that all of our children would have a heart for Jesus, first! Blessings to you and your family as you seek to instill His Truths and a deeply rooted love for HIM in all aspects of your lives. To HIM be all the glory, forever!

  • Reply Jannica Johnson March 8, 2016 at 1:13 am

    I am so grateful you penned these words…. and shared them! My friend took the time to share your blog post with us via Facebook probably after she saw a friend’s post who probably saw another friend’s post, etc, etc, and so it goes . I was a hardcore athlete in my younger days including college and I wrestled with how to use my sports experience to honor God. Now as a mom of 3 teenagers who are all involved in various sports, I see firsthand the value of their participation but sometimes wonder if God’s role and reign gets lost in the shuffle. Our love for the game can turn into idolatry so quickly. Thank You for putting these heartfelt words out there for us to receive and share. I texted my 3 kiddos the link and asked them to read this tonight. AND I told them that I feel as though I could have written what you wrote because I’m in such full agreement with your points. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 8, 2016 at 1:28 pm

      Thank you for your encouragement and heart, Jannica. I can’t tell you how much support I have gotten from these comments and from everyone who has taken the time to ‘like’ and ‘share.’ I think it is evident that many of us struggle with the same things for our children. Praying that we all seek HIM first and HIS righteousness. Blessings to you and your kiddos as you strive to honor HIM in all you do!

  • Reply Deb March 8, 2017 at 6:42 am

    Beautifully written and it is awesome that you are putting these values first in your life and your children’s. As a Pastor, it saddens me most that team sports, especially the travel leagues are played during church times on Sundays. It is very common for the families with children to miss church year round due to sports. When I asked one family, their response was, this may be the only way they will get to college. I see a great problem with this but it seems I am in the minority in my thinking. with these there is a lack of faith in self to be able to encourage the child, a great lack of faith in the child to be motivated and most of all a great lack of faith in the plan god has carved out for them.

    • Reply Jennifer Woodward March 9, 2017 at 2:55 pm

      I do agree with you. I must confess, my family participated for several years in travel baseball. I will say, that as a result of us being intentional and sharing our faith each Sunday we were at the ballpark through team devotionals and prayer time, we have had several families visit our church and even join. I hope my children will always remember that our first priority was to always be focused on sharing His good news. Perhaps your congregation could even address the issue by hosting a ‘small group’ training for those members involved in sports? Encouraging them to invite teammates to church or fun events at your congregation, reminding them that really the only reason we are here is to glorify God and share Him with the lost. Perhaps you could equip some with lessons for those Sundays, explaining that you do believe their first responsibility to their own children is to put God and church first. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that week after week sporting arenas are full of families missing time with God. And, that is so sad to me. It also makes me realize that many of those families may only see Jesus there. They may never walk in a church on their own which leads me to believe that there is a strong need for evangelism there. I hope and pray that people will realize that we only have a small window with our children to teach them the things that really matter in life. We also have a very small window of opportunity to put Jesus first in all that we do. Being intentional with our relationship with Him must come first. Blessings to you and all of those on your heart! I pray God will open our eyes to see how we can better love and serve each other and share the Good News with all the world!!

  • Reply Valery March 2, 2018 at 8:20 am

    Love this! Thank you, Jennifer! Our children can learn valuable lessons from team sports that are based on the teachings of Jesus. Years ago I heard a soccer mom say to her son, “Jesus is on that field too, remember that”. <3

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