Faith Played Out: Putting Yourself Third
Five years ago my worlds of faith and sport collided when some of the Christians in Sport team came into my school, ran a sports mission day and it suddenly clicked for me that I could praise God in my sport. It therefore made perfect sense for me to go on the Christians in Sport Academy this year during my gap year. The Christians in Sport academy is a six-month intensive gap year programme in which myself and 9 others did life together, studied the bible and had relevant training which prepared us to live out our faith every day in our local sports teams, on mission trips in schools and universities around the country.
At the end of this time, I want to share a lesson I’ve learnt, a challenge I’ve faced, and an encouragement I’ve grasped.
Lesson: As an extrovert living with and being accountable to other Christians was such an encouragement to me. I loved seeing God working not only in my own life but also in the life of all those doing the Academy alongside me.
‘Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.’ 1 Thessalonians 5.11
This verse showed me how important it is to pray together, encourage and spur one another on in our faith just like you would cheer on a fellow teammate. The encouragement in faith that Paul describes here can just as easily be transferred to my running club or local Parkrun. Living out your faith in these contexts means showing Jesus’ love for others by praying for them, building them up and encouraging their success above our own.
Challenge: I know I’m not the first and definitely won’t be the last girl to say that they struggle with comparison! It’s such a massive issue in sport when we’re constantly judging ourselves and our abilities based on the performance of others.
I have been challenged to humble myself, developing the attitude of ‘I am third’- God first, others second. This mind-set is radically counter cultural, in a society and sporting world which screams ‘you’re the best’, ‘go for gold’, ‘second place is no place’.
‘In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.’ (Philippians 2:4)
I’m still challenged by comparison and have to humble my selfish heart to know that I need God’s gracious help to put myself ‘third’. One of my closest friends Hannah Fytche has just published a really encouraging book called God’s Daughters (cheeky promo!) in which she talks about the peace humility brings;
‘To follow Jesus’ example of humility is to realise that we don’t have to strive to be better than our friends, or strive to win… instead humility brings peace and wholeness into our relationships as we lift our friends up and stop competing.’
Encouragement: The concept of grace is something that has really struck me whilst on the Academy. Most sport involves a lot of training to work towards completing targets and reaching goals. Week 1 of the academy included a bible study in Ephesians 2.8-9:
‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast’
By God’s grace, the work of our salvation has already been completed for us through his son dying for our sins on the cross. What an incredible gift! I was so encouraged to be reminded that our salvation isn’t about anything we’ve done. It is all about his grace.
‘This all surpassing power is from God and not from us.’ (2 Corinthians 4:7)
Through all of our doubts, planning, training, competing, socialising and evangelising, God showed me that sharing the gospel is not about anything ‘from us’ but instead, putting our trust in his ‘all surpassing power’ and going for it.
‘It is finished’
Cast your deadly doing down,
Down at Jesus’ feet;
Stand in Him, in Him alone,
Holly is from Cambridge and is in her first year at Sheffield University where she is studying English Literature. She is enthusiastic about life, coffee and Jesus. One of her favourite things to do is run with lovely friends, chat about her faith and share life with them!