That word was repeated by two pastors I spoke with this week at a clergy convocation.
The word came up as I asked how things were going at the church they were serving. After sharing a general report, each of them, independently of the other, named “sports” as a major obstacle in keeping kids and their parents connected to the ministry of their congregation.
Each said that parents are more committed to having their child in sports than in Christian education classes, youth groups or worship.
My response to each?
“I know how you feel.”
As we come to Super Bowl weekend, it’s a good time to reflect on how our society has gone to such an extreme in its obsession with sports. We spend hours and hours in front of screens watching one game after another. Many people gamble on games, with money that should be spent for far better things.
Our children are taught that Sunday mornings are just like every other day and if there is a game or practice, that comes before anything else, including church. We spend large amounts of money for equipment, travel and whatever costs are a part of being on a sports team. And many adults spend excessive amounts of precious time participating in a sport, to the detriment of their family.
A person once wrote that to evaluate your real priorities, look at your checkbook and your calendar…meaning that where you spend most of your time and money represents your true priority.
Unfortunately, for many people, including many parishioners in Christian churches, the first priority seems to be sports.
Now I certainly know of the challenges of raising kids in our society and of the benefits of athletic competition. My daughters were involved in a variety of sports teams over the years. But often, sports took a second or third place to their church and faith lives. And at times, they were not happy with my decisions. But I tried to keep their focus on the longer term, noting that faith and church were more important than sports.
Plus, I have enjoyed many hours playing and watching sports myself.
But this is not an article just about sports and kids.
It’s really about priorities. For sports are just one of many things that compete for our time, money and attention.
And each day we have to ask the question…
...in my use of the time, energy, talents and money God has made available to me, what is really most important?
I think we have to ask this question because God asks it.
“What is most important to you…and where do I fit in?”