Anyone who knows me understands that I love sports. I watch Sports Center, I enjoy March Madness, I enjoy filling out my bracket and competing with many of my friends at Trinity and around the country (thanks to the internet), as to who can guess the Final Four and ultimately the National Champion. My boys are enjoying baseball and I love watching them. Football has always been “it” in the Everson household and we can’t wait for fall each year. In fact on April 11, 2009 I will have the great honor of watching my beloved Georgia Bulldogs in the Red and Black Spring game on ESPN. I will watch it and love every moment of it. I will watch the first couple of hours at least of the NFL Draft. I will watch the preseason games, and especially the college football games. I love those fall Saturdays. I played football most of teen life, and have surgery scars to prove it. I wouldn’t trade anything for those days.
I am saying all of this, not to give you a list of my sports, but to give you a list of my credentials. There is a tendency to believe that when a Pastor preaches about faithfulness to our Lord, they believe he is preaching about setting priorities that he has no clue about. That he has always sat around and read the Bible and listening to Bill Gaither Reunions all his life. That is far from the truth. We wrestle or “rassle”, we enjoy ball - we love all of those things, but we must teach our boys THE PRIORITY. All of this to say, there are some great things that sports can teach children, but I would submit to you that there is nothing that sports can teach me that pouring my life into a church and the Word of God can’t teach me. I learn importance of depending on others, and others depending on me (aka Team Work). I learn the importance of what ever I do, doing it all for the glory of God (aka giving my best), I learn the importance of integrity (aka keeping the rules), I learn perseverance (aka toughness), I learn to value relationships (aka team unity). As I think about it, there is nothing sports taught me that church could not have. But there are plenty of things Church has taught me that sports couldn’t. I learned the ways of righteousness; I learned the importance of marriage; the way to love my family; the value of integrity; the importance of being a giver; the importance of accountability; what God really values and on and on.
Again don’t misunderstand me; I love sports, all kinds. My boys have played everything from soccer to mixed martial arts. But I would rather them see my excitement and overwhelming joy when they memorize scripture or read a book about Martin Luther or Lottie Moon. I am glad they know how to throw a football, but I am much more concerned that they learn how to lead their home! If you get upset when I mention your child probably isn’t going pro, you are either dreaming or bowing before the wrong god. I played for a 4A State Champion Football team - we were number one in the nation during my senior year, and I have a very large trophy and a state championship ring. Can I tell you where they are now? I have no clue. I have never shown my boys, I have never talked about it to them. Their uncle and their granddad played college ball - can I tell you what that means to me or them? Not very much, I have never placed that before them as a wonderful goal. God has called us to grow godly adults - not professional athletes. I came across this article http://www.humanismbyjoe.com/Academics_Not_Athletics.htm, it states that only 4 out of every 100,000 white males ever make it to the professional ranks. That means .004% ever make it! If a doctor gave you that chance of living another year - you would go pick out your coffin. Of this .004% the majority have a career lasting less than five years. Did you know statistically speaking; your child has a better chance of making a hole in one TWICE and bowling a 300 game in his life than becoming a professional athlete!
All this to say, I can point to countless men and women who had truth take root in their life and they have stayed faithful to the things of God! I can put countless men in front of my boys from the Word of God, to biographies, to men in this church who serve and are faithful to their families - those are the ones I want my boys to see as heroes. If my boys have a heart that longs after God, there is a 100% chance they can achieve that goal. In the long run they could care less if I play Quarterback for the New England Patriots, but it will matter to them and have a profound effect upon them if I love their Mom and them. Just something for me and you to think about as my boys averaged spending over an hour a day practicing ball that they enjoy playing and we enjoy watching. But it is more important that they see Christ, and the Church will always rank above practice, games and ball. Only those things done for Him will last.