Sports Theology: Finding God’s Winning Spirit
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Sports Theology :Playing Inside Out , proposes that the highest level of athletic or personal performance is achieved by utilizing our God-given gifts. Although it is true that athletes can benefit from psychological and physical techniques, athletic potential is grounded in the original athleticism they are given by God. God encourages us to develop and maximize the gifts he has given us. Performance then is related to one’s ability to understand, develop and act on these gifts. Sports theology does not conflict with, nor disregard, sports psychology, but rather sees sports theology as being more primary. Although it is true that psychology is a major part of who we are and affects our choices and behavior, it is not more powerful than our spirituality. Christianity holds that man is made in the image of God, which is our original state of perfection and is the foundation upon which all things fall. It is in relationship to this original condition that we can be all that we can be. Sports theology believes that to understand the human condition one must start where God started — creating us in “his image.”
Psychology, in part, talks about personality and character through the interplay between nurture (the way we were raised) and nature (components we were born with). Sports theology also talks about two opposing forces — the fallen nature of man versus the spiritual nature of man. Any attempt to understand human beings without acknowledgement of the spiritual nature of man is incomplete. Excluding spirituality, specifically Christianity, overlooks the spiritual gifts that make us unique. The key to performing spiritually is to respect and protect the gifts that we are given. Performing at the highest level requires that the athlete remain in touch with who he or she is in relationship to God. In this sense, it is erroneous think that mental (psychological) techniques succeed when an individual’s life is not in concert with God. Individual athletes who do not live their lives in a spiritual manner limit their ability to perform at the highest level
Greg Smith M.Div.,LPC is a licensed professional counselor and has a Masters Degree in Theology. Over the last thirty years Greg has been immersed in the field of psychiatry as a therapist, clinical director and administrator. Some years ago Greg started the Pastoral Care and Counseling Center where he counseled exclusively from a theological approach. Most recently he has used Christian counseling principles with professional athletes to address personal productivity and performance. Greg has originated the term “sports theology” which approaches performance from a Christian point of view. In his book Sports Theology: Playing Inside Out, Greg submits that Christian principles and faith are the true source of excellence in personal and athletic performance.
The New Testament tells us that, “ Jesus came that we should have life and have it more abundantly.” We do not have to be a professional athlete to want to succeed or improve our performance. No matter if we want to be the best quarterback in the NFL or the best dad on the block – we want to be and do our best. Sports theology says we all have been specifically gifted in reference to His call and purpose. God has provided us with everything we need to be successful and perform at a high level. Falling short of our potential often comes from falling prey to everyday distractions or being unclear of what success really is. God’s plan is perfect and we have been created, skilled and prepared to play our part in it.