Weekly Blog - Emily Smith - What can Christians learn from sportspeople?
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Posted on: 9th November 2022

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 2:17)

It’s fair to say that sport is a large part of what makes Leeds “Leeds”, and in recent weeks, we have been honoured to host several fixtures of the men’s and women’s Rugby League World Cups. We know the power that sport has to inspire others, and I wonder what we as Christians could learn from sportspeople as we aim to be a beacon of hope in these anxious times?

Playing sport takes courage; whether it’s taking the risk of being criticised, or risking an injury, timidity must be pushed aside at least in part. Playing sport in the long-term requires love for what you are doing; playing out of pride or even anger can only last for so long. Finally, playing sport takes self-discipline, and this might look like making wise food choices; being selective about your friends; and focusing on your role in the game at hand, dismissing distraction.

In our current cultural climate, people feel powerless politically, financially and mentally. There is an increase in hate while people in power blame overseas conflict for issues causing anxiety here. Self-discipline slips from us as life moves more quickly and availability of “More! Now!” increases. The church, however, has been blessed with the Spirit, and as we invite more people into church as a warm space or to celebrate Christmas, we, like sportspeople, must be bold; show love and self-discipline; and steward our power well.

At Leeds Sanctuary, one of our core values is “Encounter”, and this drives us to make bold moves as we serve the people of Leeds, though this isn’t always a comfortable process! Our vision is to build a network of communities, some of which encompass discipleship, but all of which are unified by another core value, of “Sanctuary”. We hope to be an example of a faith which gives us power, love and self-discipline, perhaps looking something like this.

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