How to be a Christian Athlete

How to be a Christian Athlete

Christian athletes are everywhere. Just turn on the TV.

With every great play and goal scored, they come out from the shadows to proclaim their love for God. A quick point toward heaven, kneeling to pray, maybe even ripping off a jersey to reveal an “I belong to Jesus” undershirt – all the least they can do for a God who has given them so much.

Before I became a washed-up athletic wannabe, I used to belong to this special group of people. I was a leader for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes club in both high school and college. I wrote Bible verses on my wrist tape and said the team prayer before every game. I was about as “Christian athletic” as it gets.

Therefore, I feel somewhat qualified to give the following piece of advice.

What is the secret? How can you excel as a Christian athlete? If I had to summarize everything that I’ve learned into one key idea, what would it be?

Well, here it goes…

Don’t try to be a Christian athlete. 

Alright, before you think I’m crazy (or crazier), let me say a few things first.

Yes, I still believe that it’s okay to give God the glory in sporting events. I also think that there are certain qualities that Christians should display on the field, such as passion, humility, grace, leadership, etc.

My point is simply this: The best Christian athletes that I know don’t care so much about being a Christian athlete, as they do about just being a Christian.

If you take care of your relationship with Christ off of the field, it will automatically be reflected on the field.

I think that we’ve come to exaggerate, overemphasize, and overcomplicate the meaning of being a Christian athlete. See, the gospel can’t begin to change your actions before it begins to change your heart. That’s why I’ve always had such difficulty with FCA meetings. Too often the focus is on relating sports to God, when the real problem is trial, hardship, and sin in people’s lives. The Gospel is about deep penetration into your life, of which sports is only a small fading aspect.

This leads to another major problem. Whenever you label yourself as anything, it’s easy for it to become an identity. I learned this the hard way. After taking such pride in being considered a Christian athlete, I soon found myself with a knee brace and crutches. In fact, I was quite sure that my playing days were over. I was no longer a Christian athlete, and it was extremely hard to handle. That’s why it is soimportant for athletes to prevent the “athlete” label from holding such prominence in their lives. You will always be a Christian, but you will not always be an athlete. Examine yourself to make sure that they’re not equally important in your life.

To conclude, here are a few things to consider:


True Christian athletes don’t just pray before games… They pray at all times (Eph. 6:18).

True Christian athletes don’t just write scripture on their wrist tape… They meditate on it day and night (Ps. 1:2).

True Christian athletes don’t just point to Christ in the endzone… They point to Him in every thought, word, and deed (Rom. 13:14).

True Christian athletes don’t just give shout-outs to God during interviews… They shout His name from the rooftops (Luke 17:15).
This world doesn’t need more Christian athletes. It needs more Christians.

…And if you happen to play sports, I guess that’s pretty cool too.

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31

If you take care of your relationship with Christ off of the field, it will automatically be reflected on the field.

Russ Allen

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