“We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Romans 12:5b
Family. For some, that word conveys positive images from home or maybe brings to mind valued relationships in a team setting. For others, the thought of family might stir up sadness or even painful memories.
Being an athlete is hard. Being a follower of Christ is even harder. There’s no way you can do either of those things successfully on your own. You have to be “Family Strong” if you want to get through any adversity that comes your way. You have to be “Family Strong” if you want to fulfill your God-given purpose. That means you must have people around you that will encourage you, build you up, work towards the same goals, and be there for you when times get tough.
In 1979, the Pittsburgh Pirates captured the imagination of baseball fans in their home city and across the country with a colorful cast of characters that included All-Stars Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, and Kent Tekulve. The team even had a theme song called “We Are Family” that was played throughout the season and all the way to a World Series championship. Since then, the concepts of sports and family have become intertwined.
Family: Being part of something bigger than yourself.
- What do you think of when you hear the word “family?”
- What are some things that bond a team like a family?
During his ministry on earth, Jesus became known for performing amazing miracles. He gave sight to the blind, gave hearing to the deaf, made the lame to walk again, and even brought the dead back to life. His reputation spread throughout Judea and oftentimes people needing help would seek Him out.
This was the case with four men who heard that Jesus was teaching in a nearby home. In this story (Mark 2:1-12), the men had a friend who was paralyzed and believed that Jesus could heal him. They placed him on a mat and carried him to the house, but it was too crowded and there was no room inside. The friends were determined to help their friend. They worked together to lift him onto the roof where they opened a hole and lowered him down on the mat directly in front of Jesus who saw his friends’ faith and forgave the man’s sins (v. 5). Then, after rebuking the religious leaders that doubted Jesus had the authority to do such a thing, Jesus turned back to the man.“Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home” (v. 11)! The man “jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers” (v. 12), but the miracle would have never happened if those four men didn’t work together as a team to get their friend to Jesus.
In your family and on your team, you are individually made better when you are working together with others. In fact, most situations in sports and in life require teamwork in order for any significant accomplishments to be achieved. It’s especially true when it comes to growing in your relationship with Jesus.
In sports and in life, family is an essential component to success and a vital key to dealing with adversity and failure. You need a team, a group of Christians, to come alongside you to encourage you, guide you, and support you in your faith journey. For a family or team to be physically, emotionally and spiritually successful, there are three key biblical principles:
- Jesus Wants Your Team To Be Strong:In sports and in life, a strong team is vital to fulfilling the call He has for your life. A family member or teammate’s job is to encourage and build up those around them. A true family always has your back. They are also responsible for holding others accountable and letting them know when they are getting off track or making bad decisions (read Proverbs 27:17).
- Jesus Wants Your Team To Bless Others:Strong families and teams aren’t meant to serve selfish interests but rather to make others better and encourage those around you. If a team is going to be successful, its individual members must have the same mindset, the same goals, and the same worldview. In other words, families are unified. For the spiritual family, that means tapping into the unifying power that only Jesus can give (read Matthew 18:20).
- Jesus Wants To Lead Your Team By Creating Community: The biggest purpose behind a family or a team isn’t to achieve material success, but rather to be a blessing and make others better. Each member has a specific function that makes the larger unit work effectively towards that goal. A family or team will only go as far as their leader can take them. There’s no greater leader to follow than Jesus—the greatest leader to ever walk the earth (read Romans 12:4-5).
Perhaps your family is found within your home. Maybe you consider your sports team to be your family, or you might look to a group of friends to fill that role in your life. Take a few minutes to write down who you consider your family (i.e. father, teammate, friend, etc.) and the role they play in your life (e.g. encourager, protector, coach, mentor, etc.).
Closely look at the family roster you created. During your quiet time, thank God for the people on that list and what they represent as a member of your family or team. Then, ask the Lord to send other people to fill in any blank spots on that list—friends, teammates, coaches, teachers, mentors, etc., that will come along side you and help you grow in your relationship with God.
- What are some words that might describe the men who worked together to help their friend get to Jesus?
- Can you share a time when you worked together with your family or your teammates to accomplish an important task?
- What do you think would have happened if just one person didn’t show up or couldn’t fulfill their role?
- Who are some important members of your family or team? Explain.
- What are some positions that need to be filled on your family or team? Go back and fill in some of those positions and describe their role even if you don’t have a “player” name to fill in.
- How do you think filling those roles might make your family or team stronger?
Within any strong family or team, however, the motivator for every action must be love—not just emotional, feel-good love, but unconditional action-oriented love that digs deep into the heart. Jesus made that clear to His followers as noted in John 13:34-35. What do you do if you don’t have a strong Christian family, team or support system? Get plugged in. Go find a church. Go find a Bible Study in your community. Be proactive and seek out like-minded people who will lock arms with you and help you learn how to live like Him and live for Him (read Hebrews 10:24-25).
NOTE: This is an excerpt from Rod Handley in his latest book, “STRONG.” To order this book, or to see additional resources offered by Rod and Character that Counts/TGIW ministry, see www.characterthatcounts.org