I have a dear friend who was talking to a Mom at their kid’s softball game. The Mom was a member of the Baptist church and very devoted. In fact, the topic came up regarding what happens when softball games and/or practice interfere with church services. In essence, the Mom’s response was, “Oh, we don’t miss church for softball. Softball is just something we do for fun and entertainment. It’s not like our kid is going to grow up and be a superstar softball player.” When I heard this I was very impressed with the parent’s thinking. I know there are many members of the Lord’s church that would be put to shame by the attitude of those parents that are Baptist. But consider the reasoning of the parents for just a minute.
First, was the arrangement of priority and the communication of that priority to the child: Church comes first. It really goes beyond that in principle. God comes first. Jesus taught that God comes first, that we should be seeking God first and seeking God’s righteousness first in our lives. (Matthew 6:33) Is that better done at church or at a softball game? Also consider the discipline through example that the parents were practicing. Those kids were being raised in word and deed that there are priorities above sports. God should be first.
Second was the differentiation between the physical and spiritual. There used to be these T-shirts back in the 90’s that said, “________ is life. The rest is just details” Just fill in the blank with whatever sport one was crazed about. The slogan promoted the idea that life was all about things like fishing, or hunting, or sports, etc. The reality is, that is an illusion. Our life is about serving God. (Ecclesiastes 12:13) The physical things of this world are passing illusions; it is the spiritual that remains on in eternity. (I Cor. 15:42-50) Fun and entertainment are not, in and of themselves, evil. But if they are our “life” then we have made them evil. God is to be our life. If we are Christians then we are disciples, and if we are disciples, then we are followers of Christ, and if we are followers of Christ then we will understand the importance and value of church and make it a priority; just as the example of Christ at 12 years old shows us. (Luke 2:42-52)
The third thing I would ask you to consider is the statement, “It’s not like our kid is going to grow up and be a superstar softball player.” What a reasonable, mature, disciplined, realistic thought. I know what you may be thinking, “Yeah, but that lady’s daughter was probably no good.” But that’s the thing… she was good. In fact, she was great! She was an All-star softball player. But it didn’t matter; she didn’t miss church for softball… even All-star games. How many kids grow up to be professional athletes? And how many of those athletes ever attain “superstar” status? That is the irony of the entire situation. While the odds are a million to one that a parent can train their kid to be a “superstar” athlete, ANY PARENT CAN TRAIN THEIR KIDS TO BE A STRONG DEVOTED SERVANT OF GOD! If you take God’s word (II Tim. 3:16-17) and apply it in teaching and training your children, you can train them to be “superstar” servants of God.
This is not about what Baptists do right or wrong, and neither is it about sports. This is about us having the mature clarity of thought and reason to put God first. This is about teaching, training, and disciplining our children to love the Lord first and foremost. This is about devotion in love and not being a fanatic of fantasy. Commit yourself today to putting God first, and start by making it a priority to be at services every time the doors are open.