Below are a few excerpts from a letter I wrote to some of my fellow sports brothers in Christ.  These are the type of challenges that go on behind the scenes that most people never encounter.  We should all encourage and challenge each other if we intend to get better… it’s not PC, it’s not super sensitive… it’s reality!

Note:  Certain groups and names are changed to protect identities.

Hey Brothers,

I write this to encourage and challenge you as fellow brothers in Christ that wear the “Christian” label.  We have an amazing opportunity to share our witness through our positions of influence in our local sports clubs, our jobs, our communities and with the way we conduct our families.  I’m becoming increasingly discouraged by the example some of you are setting with foul language, alcohol, anger issues, family neglect and other unfortunate actions.  This isn’t legalism… it’s just the basics.

Foul language – Self explanatory… guard your tongue and be SET APART.  Course joking fits in here too…use discretion (myself included).  You hopefully won’t hear me cuss (God delivered me of my potty mouth 12+ years ago) but feel free to discreetly check me if my jokes are inappropriate.

Alcohol – I don’t have a problem with having a social drink (not the whole pitcher) during dinner or something when the unbelievers around you are well aware that you’ve only had one, you’re not drinking and driving, you’re not influencing others to drink who may have had or currently have a problem and you’re aware of those around you that you may be leading astray.  Sometimes it’s best to be on the safe side and not drink at all if it could make your brother(s) stumble.  Just be aware of your surroundings.  If it’s just us together, I don’t mind having a few drinks (keeping far from drunkenness) but I wouldn’t do that around certain people who wouldn’t know the difference.  Keep in mind that I got hit by a drunk driver a few years ago and I’m still suffering the consequences.  I was an alcoholic myself at one point and quit completely for a season but now I trust myself to have an occasional drink.  I look at some of our friends and acquaintances whose lives revolve around drinking; I see that they are empty and searching and I ask myself if we are helping them fill that void.  Are you helping them get closer to Jesus or pushing them further away?  An example is one of our common friends… his dad is an alcoholic and he used to party with me.  He finally quit drinking a few years ago and now I’ve seen him drunk multiple times in our group settings and heard of stories that just make me cringe.  His language has drastically changed too!  Years of investing in him…wasted.  Are we influencing guys like him in a positive way when we have beer in our sports bags or are being sneaky with “disguised flasks”?  Are we men of integrity when our associations say no alcohol during the events?  Is it really that good, or are you just trying to fit in with the crowd?  Some of these decisions must be based on your personal convictions but I challenge you to dig deep and ask if your witness could be making others stumble along the way.

Anger Issues – Simmer down, it’s just a stinkin’ game.  Plus it doesn’t represent self-control and it frustrates everyone around you.

Family Neglect – Those who have wives and/or kids… if your favorite sport or “you time” becomes more of a priority than your family, I challenge you to take time off.  If you win a game but lose your family what did you gain?  Once again, others see this witness on and off the field and if they don’t want to be anything like you, than why would they want to know Christ if we were “made in His image.”  P.S.  Once you got married, you lost your “playa” card.  Some of you are stumbling with your eyes and need to keep your focus on Christ and your wife.

This letter might tick some of you off if you even read this far but your relationships with Christ and with your families are more important to me than our friendships…even though I value each of your friendships.  True friends speak up but people who avoid the tough conversations just want to be liked by everyone and don’t truly have your best interest in mind.  Proverbs 27:6 (NLT) “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”  I ask that you pray regularly about “how can I be a better man in Christ.”  If you’re not interested in getting out of the “lukewarm” river of life (for those applicable), I ask that you please remove your “Christian” label and come back when you’re ready to man-up and give your life fully to Christ.  The thing that sucks most about this email is that some of you are leaders in multiple areas and some of you serve in leadership positions in your church.  If any of you want to know more about discipleship or accountability, I would be glad to help.

All of these items aren’t applicable to everyone.  I just felt it necessary to make sure we’re all on the same page so we can encourage and challenge each other.  You are each uniquely talented guys that have a lot to offer this world in multiple areas and I don’t want any of you to sell yourself short.  Bring your “A” game… not just for sports but for your ministry as well!

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