Holiness in Sport

By Cory Snyder, Athletic Director

In his first epistle, Peter exhorted believers to live lives of holiness by reminding them, “…as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (I Peter 1:15-16). The term holy signifies something set apart from what is common. It is intertwined with the sanctification process in our lives as we grow spiritually and become more like Christ as believers. The athletic Ten Pillars create a culture within the Westminster Athletic Program that seeks to do sports differently than the secular culture, to be set apart in the way that we view and participate in sports. In encouraging athletes to “Honor Jesus Christ In All Things” (Pillar 1) and conduct themselves in a manner that “Christian Character Defines Who We Are” (Pillar 2), we hope that they see sport as an opportunity to reflect holiness to teammates, opponents, officials, and spectators.

The reflection of holiness can be seen in many different ways, some extraordinary and some mundane. It occurs during impromptu moments and through well-thought plans. It is an aspect of living and competing in a Christian community where “iron sharpens iron,” and individuals hold each other accountable. While these reflections of holiness may seem normal or expected and sometimes go unnoticed in our Westminster community, they are often foreign and noticed by those outside our community.

Finding opportunities to serve others in large and small ways reflects the holiness of Christ. For the past few years, our boys basketball team has traveled to St. Louis City on a day off to serve an organization called Crisis Aid International. Often at away games, students from the Blue Crew will help opposing Athletic Directors put away folding chairs and ensure the bleacher area is clean. In serving others, our students and athletes bless others and represent our Savior, who came to earth not to be served but to serve.

Living in community with one another presents other opportunities to reflect holy living. I recently learned of a senior soccer player who found a tangible way to encourage her teammates to remember that they play the game for God’s glory and approval. She had each teammate write a specific Bible verse on their wrist as a visual reminder during the game. Other times teams or teammates will pray with and for each other, and student-led devotions have become normal for many of our programs. Even in times of failure, studentathletes have held each other accountable and encouraged one another toward holiness. In these ways, student-athletes and coaches live life together in communities that encourage holy conduct.

While the sanctification process will never be complete on this side of heaven, God is using athletics at Westminster in the lives of our student-athletes for their growth in holiness and as a reflection of His holiness to others.

This article was originally published in our alumni magazine, Chimes. Read more from the Spring 2023 issue.

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