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6 Ways to Lead and Love Your Teammates This Season



The official start of the cross country season is coming soon, and I am so excited. I love my team so much, and now that I'm an upperclassmen, I get to be a leader and a role model for my teammates. I know how welcomed the upperclassman made me feel when I joined the cross country team, and I really want to pay that forward to the new runners this year.


Not only that, but I truly believe that our teams are one of the biggest opportunities we have to represent the God we serve and love like Him. We get to spend so much time with our teammates, struggling and working hard together, and while we do that, we have the ability to invest in those people. And this year, being a Christ-like leader and loving my team well is one of my biggest priorities.


I want to make sure every person on my team feels wanted and supported. I want to cheer each person on, both at practice, at meets, and in life. I want to take time to learn about each of my teammates and hear their stories. I want to be a face of joy and friendliness on the team, someone my teammates can rely on if they need anything. I want to reflect the love and grace of Jesus every single day at practice, even when the workouts get hard and the exhaustion sets in. I want to be a light and a blessing on my team.


And I want to challenge all of you to do the same. Whether it's on your sports team, in a club, at your work, wherever it's at - let's be a light, a leader, a supporter, a blessing, all reflecting the love and grace we've received from Jesus. I know that's not easy, though, so today I want to share a few ways we all can apply and live this out in our own lives.


1. Pray for your teammates specifically and often.

The more I pray, the more I realize how truly transformative it is. My team is something I am so passionate about, a group of people I love so much, and so it is only natural for me to offer them up in prayer continuously. I create lists of the people on my team so that I know who to pray for, and sometimes, I'll even reach out and ask for prayer requests so that I can pray even more specifically for them. I truly cannot wait to see how the Lord works through our team and builds relationships! Prayer is so powerful, and I am so confident that my God is going to use each and every one of our prayers to make an impact on our team and in our people's lives.


2. Write notes to the people on your team, and use that as a tool to encourage them specifically about how you appreciate what they contribute to the team and how they've grown.

I am a wordy girl! (Clearly, I have a blog.) My biggest love language is words of affirmation, and so loving my team in that way comes incredibly naturally to me. I'm known for handing out notes before the first and last race, any other especially big race in between, as well as at our team banquet at the end of the season. I think it's a very personal way to reach out and encourage each of my teammates individually, and I make it a priority. In each note, I write about what I've enjoyed doing with that particular person, how they inspire me, and how I've seen them grow. I might include a Bible verse as well, which is just a small way to plant a little seed of Jesus. Every person gets a note (at least every single girl does), whether we got along especially well or not. I don't know if these notes have made an impact, but I'm going to continue writing for as long as I can, in hopes that just one person might feel seen, wanted, and encouraged!


3. Offer rides and be intentional with that time.

My freshman year, before my friends could drive me around, the upperclassman often gave me rides to the nearby indoor pool for aqua jogging and stationary bike workouts when I was injured. It meant so much to me when the upperclassman were so willing to drive me around, and even were interested in learning more about me. This was one of the biggest things that made me feel like I really was part of the team, and I am so excited to pay it forward this year. If you have the ability, offer to give your teammates rides! Be intentional about using that car ride, even if it's short, to learn more about these people. Sometimes the best connections start in simple ways, and you never know what opportunities or relationships might form from that small acts of kindness!


4. Cheer your teammates on!

One of my all time favorite things in the world is to cheer on my team. Whether it's a quick "you're doing great!" as you pass each other at practice, or all out screaming with pom poms at races, you never know how your words of encouragement may motivate or impact your teammate. Congratulate your people on a great race (or game) and make sure they know that you are 100% on their side, supporting them and being a personal cheerleader. It is so important to me that I get to know each of my teammates so that I can cheer them all on by name and in whatever way means the most to them, because I know how much it keeps me going when they do the same for me. I also know that this kind of joy and being intentional about uplifting people can open doors to share why I am this way, and why I prioritize it so much - which might give me an opportunity to share how Jesus has changed my life.


5. In everything you do, do it for the Lord.

In Colossians, Paul challenges us to do everything, whether word or deed, for the Lord, and I want to take that perspective into practice every day. I want every run and every workout to be for God's glory, and I want to put my all into that. As I'm leading my team, I want to be an example for them of what it looks like to not only glorify God in all things, but also to give 100% into every practice. Even when it feels like death, even when I have no motivation, this season is going to be all about pushing through and giving everything I've got. And maybe, just maybe, this mindset will challenge my teammates to do the same.


6. Be aware of your team's needs and learn how to meet them.

Last year, our team was kind of falling apart - we struggled with negative mindsets and countless injuries. But, that difficult season taught me the importance of being able to communicate and observe what your teammates need and learn how you can meet those needs. If we're having a really negative attitude or struggling to be united as a team, I want to bring us all together, have a really good pep talk, and maybe talk with some of my teammates one-on-one to understand why they are so stressed out. If we're constantly having aches and pains, I can bring in rollers, BioFreeze, and a massage gun to hopefully soothe some of that. The point is - I want to know what my team needs and do my very best to meet it, so that I may encourage and strengthen our team on both an individual and whole group level.

 

I am so excited for this upcoming cross country season and the ways God is planning on working both in me and through me! It is truly my prayer for this fall sports season that we all go into our sports (or activities or jobs) with a passion for glorifying God and serving our teammates.


Do you have any tips for how to be a Christ-like leader on your team, or how to love your teammates well? Or, do you have any prayer requests for this fall season? Let me know down in the comments down below; I love to hear from you!

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