How Perseverance Relates to Both Sports and the Gospel

The Bible offers many parallels between life as a Christian and life in sports. Let's look at the spiritual and athletic component of perseverance.

How Perseverance Relates to Both Sports and the Gospel

.Many of us have walked away from a sport we committed to because we failed to display perseverance when times were challenging. We decided that walking away was the best response to the adversity. This happens because we never took the time to consider the cost. Or maybe we considered the cost and made the decision that it wasn’t worth it to us.

Many of us have not come to fully surrendered faith in Christ because the cost is too great. Whether we enjoy the pleasures of the world or we want full authority over our lives, submission and obedience are not of interest. When I speak of faith here, I’m referring to authentic, repentant faith.

Let’s explore the cost we find in sports and more importantly, the cost of being a disciple of Christ.

The Cost of Sports

There is a cost for playing a sport. As an athlete progresses in their sport of choice, the commitment grows as well.
Time is invested in workouts, practices and film studies. Money is spent on equipment, lessons and training sessions.

In addition to the time and money, there is an immense amount of physical and mental energy invested. Workouts are strenuous. Pain and injuries brings setbacks and rehab. Perfecting a skill requires hours of failure. Losing will lead an athlete to question their ability or desire to go on.

The quest to be great is costly.

The end result of winning, camaraderie with teammates, and lifelong lessons of competing makes every step of perseverance worth it.

Perseverance may lead to the highest level of competition in an athlete’s respective sport. It aids in developing a work ethic that can translate to a career when the playing days are over. It provides a framework to grow in how we love our neighbor and persevere in a challenging friendship, relationship or career.

Personally, I’ve learned a great deal of honoring my commitments to people. Partly due to my desire to excel in sports. To this day, I despise losing and when a competition presents itself, I always commit to beating my competition (if I can get paid to play ping pong or shoot hoops, I would certainly take the offer!).

Looking back to my late high school years when I quit playing baseball, I counted the cost and at the time, determined it wasn’t worth it. I thought, as a 17-year old who knew everything (but really knew nothing), that I made the best decision. Now, I won’t say I regret it because it led me to where and who I am today, but it was a miscalculated cost. I can’t say that I sat down and calculated the cost of both decisions, rather I just made a decision that I thought made the most sense.

When making a decision to commit to a sport, we must count the cost. By determining the amount of time and money to be invested, we can honor and persevere through our commitment, no matter the difficulties waiting to present themselves.

The Cost of Discipleship

In the book of Luke, Jesus talks about the cost of discipleship and who can be His disciple.

Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. – Luke 14:25-33

A disciple of Christ is compared to the plans of building a tower and going to war.

Imagine the burden and pain of building a foundation for a tower, yet running out of money after the initial investment to construct the foundation. As if that isn’t a financial strain and a misuse of time, those around you mock and laugh at you for your decision.

Envision being the king of a nation and your squad of 10,000 troops is ready to go to battle, but you decided not to account for the enemy and their 20,000 troops. You send the 10,000. More than likely, the results are thousands of lives lost, families destroyed and a devastated nation.

Following Christ isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It doesn’t promise comforts and a life of personal and professional success. There are conditions to be a follower of Christ. Jesus lays them out for us:

Love Christ more than our family (the word “hate” in this passage is an expression for loving less)

Who or what has our devotion more than our devotion to Christ? Are we not following Christ because it will alienate us from our closest friends or family members?

Related Post: One Main Reason Why Relationships are Important

I urge us to love our family well, but may our utmost affection be for Christ.

“Bear his own cross and come after me”

As a Christian, we must daily carry our own cross. Carrying what is an ancient instrument of death, we have to ask ourselves if we are willing to die to follow Jesus. We are to surrender our lives, die to ourselves and obediently submit to Christ.

“Renounce all”

Following Jesus is costly, yet the rewards are incomparable to any earthly joy. We renounce all of our hopes, dreams and ideas and submit them to Christ. We don’t pursue a goal or walk in a direction in which we will not walk in obedience to Christ.
There is an unmatched beauty in carrying our cross. We pick up our device of death for the promise of life in Him. We follow and love Him because He first loved us, having to look no further than the cross He carried to death.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12

Final Thought on how perseverance relates to both sports and the gospel

Athletes have a cost to consider when playing a sport. Let us not let that overshadow our greatest cost to consider, whether we will bear our own cross and follow Him.
Christians, have we weighed the cost of following Christ? Do we treasure Him more than any earthly treasure?

Non-Christian, I urge you to weigh the cost of following Christ. I hope you find his beauty to be worth the cost of bearing your cross until Christ brings full restoration to our broken world.

Mediate on Him and who He is. I hope you find faith in Him. Because He is far more beautiful than anything or anyone that the world can offer.

Question from Eric Nelson, the author.

Will the cost be too great for us to place our faith in Jesus or will we heed His calling to bear our cross and come after Him?

Written by Eric Nelson

I am a recipient of God's grace. I am a PE teacher to elementary students. I am a coach of baseball to high school students. I write to hopefully encourage and inspire others in their walk with Christ.

4 thoughts on “How Perseverance Relates to Both Sports and the Gospel

  1. I needed this. You’re right it is tough. I think more people need to be reminded of that. So many times we hear all the good and little about consideration of costs.

    Then again, I wonder how many times we’ve achieved something only because we hadn’t. Had we, we wouldn’t have started.

    Thank you for your post. It lifted me up for sure today.

    1. I agree Eric.
      Of course we make decisions every day that we don’t necessarily consider the cost of because it either is a decision where the effects last a short period of time or a decision we make every day that we have already counted the cost for and it is now just habit.
      But when it comes to our life altering decisions, counting the cost is always worth the time and energy.
      Thanks for reading and I am glad it encouraged you!

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