Life Lessons from Sports - Responding Well to Trouble is a Choice

Life Lessons from Sports

Lesson #2 - Responding Well to Trouble is a Choice

So, here is the key question. “How do you handle it when you are treated unjustly by the officials, other players, the fans, or the coaches? Do you blow up, or pout, or fume, or fall apart, or retaliate, or give up, or lose concentration, or verbally attack someone, or blame someone else for your mistake, or act disrespectfully, or what? Or, on the other hand, do you take a breath, clear your mind, close your mouth, regroup, and positively move forward? (Philippians 3:13-14 provides a model of this for Christ followers: “…But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”)

You do have a choice. You can act or you can react. You can let your perceived mistreatment consume you and take both you and your teammates down (Hebrews 12:15 makes a remarkable statement regarding the fallout of responding wrongly: “See to it that… no "root of bitterness" springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”) Or, far better, you can use these exasperating mistreatments as stepping stones to growth and strength. It is up to you. No one is responsible for how you respond, except you!

And, I want to remind you that God does not hold you responsible for someone else’s mistakes or mistreatment of you. He will never ask you about an official’s missed call.  But God will ask you how you responded to the official’s missed call. You can’t control the official but you can always control your response to him. Yes, God holds you accountable for how you respond to “unfair” treatment.  For me, this simple idea of personal accountability to God changes the game! I have observed that how a person responds to adversity can shape his entire life.

By the way (see Lesson #1), Joni Erickson Tada lives a bitter free life, joyfully ministering to thousands from her wheelchair. And both Tyler Trent and Andrew Smith uplifted almost everyone they encountered during their dying days. No complaining about their lot in life! And Valentino Dixion? While imprisoned he refused to become bitter and resentful but rather became an accomplished painter. These real people have set an example for all of us to follow. It is possible for you to respond well to a bad call!

I believe that if you rightly handle “unfair” incidents in the sports arena,  you will be able to appropriately handle them in other areas of life as well. In fact, I believe that your athletic competition is a great training ground for life. I encourage you to think about how you are doing.