If you keep up with my blog much you know that, “Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. ” (Psalm 127:4, ESV). The Psalmist states that children are like arrows. More than ever I recognize that shaping Isaac, Hannah-Ruth, Abigail, and Jeremiah into the arrows God would have them be, is far more than a responsibility, it is a mission. Currently, I am doing some serious shaping with my oldest arrow, Isaac.
The last two weeks has given me the opportunity to introduce a brand new shaping tool in his life, flag football. As many of you know I have a small sports background, having played High School football and having coached High School Football; however this has never translated into me having a great desire to push Isaac to play sports. As you will see in a moment, I think organized athletics offer some incredible life skills and character development. My greatest struggle was the environment I experienced while coaching and even as a minister, where there was abusive parenting for the sake of a child’s performance and dads trying relive their youth through their sons. Experiencing this really gave me a unique perspective on sports and activities. I have always been committed to letting my children do what they love and are skilled at; whether that is playing a trumpet, singing a solo, writing a book, or catching a ball.
This is where flag football comes in, I literally had to make myself let Isaac play. He talked about it at length and finally after he asked me for the bazzillionth time, I said, yes. I had become so leery of anyone having significant influence in the molding and shaping of my children that I was completely closed to the idea of him playing. However over the course of the last three weeks there were two thoughts that changed my mind:
1. Myself and Joy are the primary, and I mean primary in the most serious of sense, influencers of our children’s heart and mind, this is our mission. In fact I have come to understand through years of pouring over texts and dong word studies on the “heart” in the Old Testament, that a persons heart and mind are one in the same, they are inseperable. As a persons mind goes so goes their heart and so goes their life…..“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. ” (Proverbs 4:23, ESV). With that stated what I recognized was this, “Joy and I will shape the mind and heart, and we will allow others to help shape their skills and muscles.” I believe the best modern day example of this is Tim Tebow. His parents shaped his heart and mind and they allowed others to help shape his muscles, skills, and athleticism. It seems to have worked out well, lol.
2. I remembered the great lessons I learned from playing High School Football; and how lives were changed and character was built when I was coaching High School football. I understand that sometimes you just get a horrible example as a coach or your child has a horrible experience in playing or participating in organized extracurricular events, but currently I believe the positives outweigh the negative. Just off the top of my head organized sports teaches: character principles, unity and teamwork, work ethic, and sacrifice. You cannot come away from reading the writings of Paul and say that he did not use athletic terminology to parallel and challenge us in our Christian journey!
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. ” (1 Corinthians 9:24–27, ESV)
“An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. ” (2 Timothy 2:5, ESV)
“for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. ” (1 Timothy 4:8, ESV)
“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. ” (Philippians 3:12–14, ESV)
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. ” (2 Timothy 4:7, ESV)
Someone reading this is saying, “But Pastor George we WORSHIP sports.” And I say, “yes, we do worship sports!” But Paul lived in a culture where they worshipped sports as well, ever heard of the Olympics….the concept came from organized games in towns like Athens and Corinth. The Corinthians understood athletic competition as well as any modern ESPN junkie. Since the time of Alexander the Great, athletics had dominated Greek society. The two most important athletic events were the Olympic Games held every fourth year in Athens, and the Isthmian games held every other year (in the spring of the second and fourth years of the Olympiad) in Corinth. The Isthmian games were among the most famous attractions of the city. Everyone in Corinth knew something about athletics. John MacArthur, The Book on Leadership : The Power of a Godly Influence (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 2004), 149. I know and have settled who I worship and by God’s grace, who I will lead my children to worship. So extra curricular activities for me are tools for shaping skills and muscles, not idols to be worshipped, and there are many good lessons to be learned and some great shaping is already taking place. I have used both of Isaacs practices to teach and train him on a biblical character principle that points him to Christ and the cross.
I don’t know what the future holds for Isaac and sports or any extra curricular activity for that matter, but my prayer is that home educators in Mississippi will have the same opportunities like home educators in Florida, which allows for home educated children to participate in extra curricular activities that our federal and state taxes go to support. If your a High School Coach and you are reading this, you need to contact your state senator and push for a “Tim Tebow” rule in Mississippi, you may be missing out on the next Tim Tebow! As for today, I am taking it one day at a time and thanking the Lord for Jay Thomason the Pastor at Mt. Mannah Baptist Church for putting on Upwards Flag Football. I have already been blessed by the testimony of Isaac having to learn Bible verses assigned by his coach.
Talk is cheap when It comes to shaping our arrows, so get busy. We only get one chance to shape and form them before we shoot them, don’t waste it.
And yes…I need to work on how to carry the ball…lol