Finding God's Winning Spirit

What is Sports Theology?

December 10, 2013 | Greg Smith | Sports


Quite frankly, I wrote a book on sports theology to make a point. As a Christian counselor working with believers it became evident to me that many of my clients did not believe that their Christian faith was applicable to daily living. What I mean by this is that when things fell apart they searched everywhere for answers except the doctrines, scriptures and the promises at the heart of their belief system. Put quite simply, when life hit the fan they abandoned their faith. I found myself, more often than not, asking my clients, “What difference does it make in your life that you know Jesus”?

I chose the arena of sports to test Christianity’s relevance to daily living ( i.e. the origin of the term sports theology). Why sports? I picked sports because it is the most brutal, in-your-face, and non-deniable example of failure or success when it comes to performance. In other words, if knowing Jesus can help one perform better in this obvious pass/fail and high stress environment then just imagine how powerful it can be in other areas of life.

Sports theology is based on the premise that God has created us all in his image and with unique gifts. It is his desire that we acknowledge and nurture these gifts. Athletic ability, like all other gifts, can only be fully realized when we are in right relationship with him. Athletic gifts are no different than those of compassion, wisdom, leadership, etc. If we move away from God, or let things get between him and us, we limit his power, which limits our potential and therefore performance.

One of the major differences between sports psychology and sports theology is the starting point. Sports psychology sees athletic excellence coming from what the athlete can learn through concepts like, imagery, motivation and focus. It talks about neural pathways, self-talk and positive thinking. Sports theology believes that athletic excellence comes from utilization of the gifts we have been given and the minimizing of those things that distract us from meeting our potential. In short, sports theology is not as much about acquiring skill as it is about getting out of our own way and letting God’s gifts shine through.

The principles in sports theology are not unique or applicable only to athletes. Many individuals have to perform at a high level that requires focus, confidence and motivation. The pressure on a CEO can be as intense as it is for the professional athlete. The surgeon certainly needs to be as focused and confident as the PGA golfer. Flight crews are called on to work as a team. We all have things in our lives that mean as much to us as making the winning shot or scoring the winning touchdown.

The foundation of sports theology and applied theology are the same – God is a winner and has equipped us to be winners too. If we follow His Will and develop the gifts we've been given we will be successful on the field, court, course, and in the boardroom or family room.


(Excerpt from Sports Theology –Finding God’s Winning Spirit)


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