Many Christian athletes wonder if they can pursue sport while still having a strong faith.
Shawn, a national athlete turned coach, was one of them struggling to reconcile his faith with his sporting pursuits. Competitive sport was his passion, but also demanded his fullest commitment. It felt like sport was pulling him away from a deeper faith.
Shawn experienced a turning point when he attended the Ultimate Training Camp (UTC) which teaches athletes and coaches how to turn their sporting pursuits into a field for God’s harvest. His first breakthrough came from realising that faith was fundamental to all things in life, and that included sport. These five principles from the UTC became a guide for Shawn to pursue a faith-filled sporting journey.
#1 Who we worship changes how we play
Athletes need to give their utmost. However, it is easy for athletes to define themselves by their performance. When Shawn discovered God’s love for him as a person, he realised he did not need to prove himself as an athlete. He played for the Audience of One.
#2 Having a godly motivation moves us from fear to freedom
Performance expectations often weighed heavily on Shawn as he trained and competed. In UTC, he discovered how his significance, satisfaction and security lay in God’s love. His focus shifted from praise and achievements, to giving his best as a form of thanksgiving in response to God’s provision and blessings. Instead of being afraid of failure or being anxious to perform, he could focus and enjoy the pursuit of sport while living his life as a testimony for God.
#3 Training our soul changes our actions
Our desires impact our thoughts and actions. An athlete whose desires are aligned and surrendered to God, experiences His divine leading and direction. Shawn found the discipline to learn God’s Word. He stayed on track by joining the Athletes in Action community. He was encouraged by others on the same journey, and received guidance from mentors. God was renewing his mind and Shawn could now become the best God had made him to be.
#4 Pain has a purpose
Shawn often felt like a failure when he was unable to win or reach his targets. He even felt he let God down. Every challenge in sport was a challenge of his worth. During the UTC, Shawn realised challenges and pain were not a result of his shortcomings. Instead, they were a part of God’s plan to refine his character. Discovering his worth in God, freed him from weight of proving himself. Knowing God was growing him also allowed him to bravely face the challenges of sport.
#5 True victory lies beyond the podium
Jesus asked this piercing question: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? (Matthew 16:26). Shawn often found himself trying to win at all costs and it drained him. When Shawn began focusing on eternity, he realised he could make his life and sporting pursuits count for eternity. Instead of constantly being dissatisfied, he experienced a fullness of joy which did not fade and he could wholeheartedly give his best.
Shawn was transformed from an anxious person to one living with complete passion, power and purpose in spite of challenges. He is grateful to have found God’s ways of life. This year he returns to serve in the UTC, supporting other sportsmen on journeys similar to his.
Faith is not a small part of our lives, but one integral to all that we do. God met Shawn at UTC and taught him how faith and sport are connected.
If you are an athlete who desires to grow, come and join Shawn and other like-minded athletes at the Ultimate Training Camp 2023 (27-30 December 2023).
Organised by Cru‘s Athletes in Action Singapore, UTC is a high-intensity experience designed specifically for Campus, Club and National Athletes who desire to integrate their faith with their passion for sports. UTC provides the tools and inspiration for athletes to become powerful ambassadors for the Gospel.
During the camp Athletes will learn biblical principles to tackle these key questions: Who or what do I worship? What motivates me? How do I grow? How do I deal with suffering? What is true victory? They will then apply the Biblical principles in a powerful training environment that combines physical exertion with spiritual growth. The camp climaxes with a 20-hour sports marathon where they will put all they have learn to the test so they are ready to bring it into their sporting lives.