“My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.”— John 15:8
It’s hard not to just focus on winning when that is all everyone else cares about. Most people only care about winning and playing well for their teams and parents. But when you follow Jesus, He is focused on something that will last forever, and that is fruit (or the outcome or results of our actions).
Look around at the group and think about the first things that come to mind based solely on what you know about them as athletes. Now look around again and think about some things you know about them as individuals—their character, their personality, etc. Let’s share some of the positive things we have observed.
- Would you rather others judge you based on outward things like appearance, ability, results, etc., or based on inward things like character, personality, etc.? Explain.
- Why do you think it’s easier to see outward traits and results than inward traits?
There was a college football coach back in the day named Tom Osborne who coached at Nebraska. He used to have 180 players on his football roster (today, college teams are only allowed to have 105). Many of those players were walk-on, nonscholarship players.
Some of them would stick around just long enough to be in the team picture but would eventually quit as practice got tougher and harder. Even though those players were in the team photo and had a jersey, their time on the team was short.
The coach understood that competition reveals character. He was more focused about what was under the jersey, the character traits inside of the players. The coach knew that their character affected the way they played on the field, how they acted in the locker room, how well they did in school and even their future outside of their sport.
- What is something (good or bad) that sports can show you about yourself?
- Why is your character important?
For a competitor, here’s what that looks like:
Showing love (and respect) when you’re winning.
Having joy and peace when you’re losing.
Displaying patience and kindness when a teammate is messing up.
Embracing goodness when others are breaking the rules.
Choosing faithfulness when friends are giving up.
Demonstrating gentleness when opponents are talking trash.
Focusing on self-control when things don’t go your way.
Staying connected to Jesus will allow Him to help you build godly character traits inside of you. Here are three kinds of greater fruit He wants to see in your life:
- Fresh Fruit. Godly traits can be grown in you no matter what the situation—good or bad.— James 1:2–3
- Healthy Fruit. Godly traits are for your good and the good of others.— Colossians 1:10
- Lasting Fruit. Godly traits are not something that fizzles out and goes away. You can have them for a long time, and they can affect the people around you.— Psalm 1:3
Close in prayer or ask an athlete to lead the team in prayer.