Life to the full
An elite sportsperson shares why God is the ultimate coach for our lives.
Blood, sweat and tears. Whether you’re playing sport at school, on the weekend or you’re on the way to going pro, sport can be fun, intense and glorious. Fervr was honoured to get advice from Wiz Hunt who plays for Reading Hockey Club in England. She chats about Christians in Sport’s Life to the Full short film (see below), the challenges of being a Christian athlete and why Jesus is better than any coach!
Wizz, what is Life to the Full all about?
Life to the Full is a short film reflecting on John 10:10 and Jesus’ claim that he came to offer us ‘Life, and life to the full’. These are potentially inspirational and life changing words. In the world of sport, it is the job of the coach or manager to inspire their team, to outline their message with inspirational words. There are many examples of great managers and coaches who have had a massive effect on their team’s or athlete's performance. Jesus, however, is so much more than just a ‘life coach’ – he is our saviour who gave himself for us. Far more than just inspirational!
What part does a coach play in an athlete’s life?
A coach can potentially be one of the most important people in an athlete’s life. In the case of Ivan Lendl and Andy Murray, for example, we have heard Murray say that it was Lendl’s experience and encouragement which helped him stop feeling like a ‘loser’ and propel him to win Grand Slams. A coach can do everything from encouraging (using words and past experience) to tweaking techniques and developing tactics.
The Life to the Full video says, 'Coaches inspire, Jesus does more than inspire'. Can you expand on what this means?
As the video goes on to say, Jesus did more than just say inspirational life quotes like we see on motivational posters—he died in our place. Many people would say that Jesus was a good moral teacher—an inspirational one even—but nothing more. When we look at the Bible though, and we look at Jesus’ life in the gospels, we see so much more. He did not merely tell us how to live, but he managed to live that perfect life himself—something none of us can do. A coach can inspire you to win and to be a better player—things which ultimately in the grand scheme of life do not matter—but Jesus has done so much more. Jesus offers us eternal life, living with him forever, because he died in our place.
What are the challenges for a Christian involved in sport?
There are many! I think the biggest one is where we see our identity. As sportspeople, it is so easy to define ourselves by our performance—how the media and our coaches, fans and teammates see us. The Bible teaches us that we should see our identity in Jesus and what he has done for us. It can be really hard not to believe the world’s lies and not to define ourselves by where we are ranked in the world or what the media are saying about us.
How do you stay strong for Jesus in the sporting world?
It can be really tough. Here are my 3 top tips:
1. Get to church as much as you can. Be part of a Bible-teaching church community with Christian friends who will keep you accountable for your actions on and off the pitch.
2. Read the Bible regularly. Remind yourself of who God is, who you are and who you are playing for.
3. Pray, pray, pray. In the changing room or on the pitch, ask God to help you represent him every second you are with your sports friends and pray for opportunities to speak about Jesus.
What are the great things about being a Christian athlete?
Two things come to mind straight away. Firstly, freedom from letting my sporting ability - which inevitably goes up and down - define who I am and how much God loves me. And secondly, extra drive; Colossians 3:23 says, ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters’. When I want to give up or am feeling lazy, this verse can be a great motivator!
How can a young person honour God with their athletic gifts?
Romans 12:1-2 teaches, ‘Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ Therefore, as Christians, we must give every aspect of sport to God and remember that we are playing for an audience of one! Pray that God would give you strength to represent Jesus as you play and boldness to speak about him when opportunities arise.
The full video of Life To The Full can be seen below. For more information on Christians in Sport, visit www.christiansinsport.org.uk