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Competitive Balance

Can you be aggressive without compromising your faith?
By Ashley Burns

Many highly competitive, Christian athletes struggle with feeling like they are living two lives: Christian by day and competitive beast by night. As athletes, it’s easy for us to get focused in the game we’re playing and forget God’s role for us in the sport itself.

As Christians, we have a calling to do everything with excellence for the Lord. That very much applies to how we compete. Excellence in the world of athletics means giving every last bit of energy and effort to the competition at hand. But, when giving everything you’ve got includes throwing a few shoves after a play is over or copping an attitude after a tough call, there’s a problem.

The difference between aggressive play and playing dirty comes down to integrity. In sports, integrity means playing by the rules. A good measure for integrity is to ask ourselves whether or not we play the same way when the ref is watching as we do when his back is turned.

If you read the article on DeLisha Milton-Jones, you find that she discovered how faith and competition can work hand in hand. She now, as a way of competing for the Lord, uses every rule to her advantage, but she doesn’t break them. She plays with a heart of passion, taking herself to the limits without crossing over them.

For all of us, integrity is an issue of the heart. Investigating our inner motives and discovering the true intent behind our competitiveness is how we are enlightened to reality. When we look inside, we allow the Holy Spirit to reveal our motives for playing aggressively and learn the truth about whether we are playing for self gain or the Lord’s glory.

As Christian athletes, if we are playing with integrity, we won’t feel like we are living two lives on and off the court. God has called us to use the gifts He’s given us with excellence and to play all-out for His glory. Our bodies are His temples, and our sports can be acts of worship to Him.

Remember, playing aggressive doesn’t negate playing with respect. Playing hard doesn’t cancel out playing fair. Instead, let’s make it our aim to live out Colossians 3:23 by doing everything with all our hearts, working for the Lord and not for men.

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