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Practical Ways to Love Like Jesus as an Athlete



Joining the cross country team has led to some of the best things and the hardest things I have ever experienced in my life. I have some of the best friends from my team that you could ever have, and running has helped me grow so much (physically and mentally). And I absolutely love how supportive the running community is.


Whether your sport is as much of a community as mine, God has put us on those teams with those people for a specific purpose, and He has given us an amazing opportunity to serve those people in a way most others can't. He's given us the amazing opportunity to love not just our teammates (and the ones we like!) but our coaches and competitors too.


This season I have come to realize how easy it is to show love like Jesus as an athlete, but how incredibly impactful it is. The smallest gestures can change another athlete's day or performance, and it's up to us to do the little things to make an impact in God's kingdom.


I know that it might seem odd to think about loving and serving while your on a team; I mean, shouldn't you be focused on you and bettering yourself? Yes, yes for sure! But as a Christian, it's not just about us. Yes, it's about being competitive and improving, but it's also about reflecting Christ as we do those things. You can love on your opponents and still be competitive. It doesn't take much effort, but it will make them respect you even more.


1. Share your equipment

As a runner, I use a lot of products and equipment that can be shared or borrowed. For example, I always have extra socks, clothing, braces, BioFreeze, hair ties, and a roller just in case I need it or someone else needs it. These aren't big things, and they are things I have anyways, but just being willing to share what I have is huge. As a teammate, we need to be supportive of the people on our team, and this is such a simple way to do that.


This is the same with competitors! I will never forget how many times I'll recognize another runner needing water or a roller at a meet and they are shocked to see someone from a different school ready and willing to help. Even if you aren't a Christian, it's good sportsmanship to be helping other athletes out and it means the world to them.


You never know, your little act of generosity might lead to conversations about Christ. The little things really do open up the biggest doors.


2. Cheer on your teammates

Guys, we are literally on the same team, and for some reason, it is so hard for us to cheer our teammates on. Their success is our success (that's even in the Bible, by the way; check out Romans 12:15). So go out on the field, court, or course and scream your head off for your teammates. Do it for the ones you like and the ones you aren't so fond of. Let them know that you are supporting and cheering for them.


Cheer them on during practice and during race day (or game day). It could be as easy as "You're doing great!" or "You worked so hard at practice today, and that really motivated me!" or "Keep pushing!". If you can't go with them to the race/game, write them good-luck notes and make the effort to let them know you're praying for them.


And cheer on the other team(s)! I know, it seems backwards, but there are so many times at a race that other parents/runners are cheering me on and it gives me the motivation to keep working hard. Be the person who makes the impact in someone else's performance.


3. Notice and check in

Is there someone on your team struggling with an injury? Ask them how they feel and if there's anything they need. Do you have a coach who just had a baby or lost a loved one? Let them know you care and ask them how they're doing. Do you have a teammate who's struggling with something at school or home? Show up and check in on them. Is there a competitor who was crying before the race/game? Ask if everything's okay. Did another athlete get hurt? Make sure they're doing all right.


There is something to be said about the person who not only notices someone who might be hurting or struggling but does something about it. It's as simple as checking in. So many other people would notice when something is wrong, but brush it off or even laugh about it. Let's be set apart and take the time to care.


4. Write thank you notes/emails to your coaches

If you read my previous blog post, Practical Ways to Love Like Jesus at School, I mentioned writing thank you notes or emails to your teachers, and again, I think it is so important to do that for coaches as well. They work so hard for us, and they genuinely do not have to put the time in outside of school for us, but they do anyway! Our coaches truly want the best for us and put in so much effort to help us reach our peak and perform our best, and so they most definitely deserve the recognition for it.


Notes or emails both work great, but y'all know I love my notes. Notes are just so much more personal and creative, but emails also work if you're less creative or low on time.

 

Let's make this upcoming season the best ever! Let's reach our max, not only in athletic performance, but also in the ways that we love. Let's push our limits, not only in the way we push our bodies but also in the way we push our comfort zones in serving the people around us as we work.



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