One of the most frequent questions I get from Christians who happen to be student-athletes and/or graduating students goes something like this: “Ate, gusto ko naman talaga din mag-disciple like Jesus pero nalulunod napo ako sa acads at training.” (“I actually want to disciple like Jesus but I am already sinking from my acads and training”) Often times, I would also hear them say:
- “Ate, pagod na utak ko at katawan ko, paano pa ako magdi-disciple?” (“My brain is already tired and so is my body, how can I still make disciples?”)
- “Ate, wala na nga akong social life at ‘me’ time, paano pa ako magdi-disciple?” (“I do not have time for social affairs anymore or even a time for myself so given that, how can I still make disciples?”)
- “Ate, quiet time ko nga, inconsistent or nagmamadali pa, paano pa ako magdi-disciple?” (“My quiet times are not only inconsistent but often rushed as well so given that, how can I still make disciples?”)
I understand. Being a student-athlete and/or a graduating student is no joke. It requires work and a lot of sacrifices! I have been there, too. I was a student-athlete from highschool to college. I was also playing for the junior national team of the Philippines until sophomore year of college. Scholarship was always on the line. I have to perform consistently well in both academics and sports. Even though I loved doing it, weariness or burn-out would always meet me halfway. In fact, I am still somehow there. I am currently finishing my Master’s degree with an eight-to-five weekday job and Saturday work. I have a tennis season every other year as well. It can be crazy.
But given all these pressures pushed down on student-athletes and graduating students, is it still possible for them to follow the life and ministry of Jesus?
Of course! But how? First: What’s your purpose? Is the worth of your purpose eternal or just temporary?
It boils down to: Were you given a short-lived life just to be a student or a student-athlete? Again, I am not underestimating the weight of being one but is that what you are truly here for? Were you born just to play a sport, train everyday, win championships and/or graduate with flying colors?
I think that these are important questions to answer. Why? Because purpose unveils priorities. Not only that there is nothing to persevere on when there is no purpose, but without purpose or perhaps a purpose that is temporary or worldly, people just go by with whatever is there.
Again, there is nothing wrong with being a great student or student-athlete. These are honorable things. It inspires people to work hard and be self-disciplined. But these are not purpose; these are just desires or perhaps a platform for what you are truly called for. Not the end-goal; just some means to an end.
We can only know what our true purpose is if we ask or hear it directly from the One who created us. As Rick Warren articulated, “The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions… You must begin with God.”
One way or another, we have already created something. It could be a song or poem, a building or a thesis paper. In each that we create, we know the purpose behind it and how that purpose can serve or be achieved. For example: A songwriter creates a song knowing exactly what it is for, and why and how it was created. An engineer builds a tower knowing exactly how sturdy it is, and why and how it was built. A student submits a paper knowing how much time and effort he or she spent on it, and how it was written until the final sentence.
The same thing with God: God created us into His own likeness (Genesis 1:27), beautifully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), knowing exactly what we are for, why we are here and how we can truly serve our purpose.
Sure, we can try to make our own purpose but that would be horrible! Imagine if the songwriter produces a song meant to encourage sick and heartbroken people then the song suddenly decides to become a rap song for a birthday because it thinks that’s cooler. Imagine if an engineer builds a tower for business purposes then the building suddenly decides to shut down because it prefers to be isolated in quietness. Or imagine a paper you submitted to your English professor then suddenly the paper decides to transform its content to another language because it thinks it is better that way. Crazy, crazy horrifying!
Unfortunately, this still happens prominently today. God created us for a purpose but we create our own purpose without consulting or asking the Creator. Sometimes, we even want our Creator to adjust our purpose to what we want it to be. We go our own ways, thinking that the path we choose is always the right path because it seems cooler, more at peace, better and self-satisfying. Most of us even think, “This is my life anyway so I will do whatever I want to do with it.”
“For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible… everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him.” — Colossians 1:16 (MSG)
“It is God who directs the lives of His creatures; everyone’s life is in His power.” – Job 12:10 (GNT)
And so you ask: If I am not here to just be a student-athlete or a graduating student, then what on earth am I here for?
Our purpose in life, as God originally created man, is to glorify God and enjoy fellowship with Him. He created us for a personal love relationship with Him. If you leave this one out, nothing will work out in your life meaningfully.
- You can defend one championship title after another but without God glorified, none of those trophies will ever make sense.
- You can ace one exam after another but if you’re just living for yourself, your pleasures and satisfaction, none of those grades will matter eternally.
- You can spend all your time traveling the world, competing for a country’s sake, but if you do it just to get something out of life, your life is meaningless.
But if you embrace your purpose (which is a personal love relationship with God), everything will work out in your life meaningfully regardless of your circumstances.
- You may or may not defend one championship after another but if every match is done so that God ALONE is glorified, you’re already a winner with or without an awarding ceremony.
- You may or may not ace one exam after another but if your classmates, dormmates, teachers and coaches were given the opportunity to hear and believe the grace and truth of Jesus Christ because you shared God’s word and love to them, you rejoice with the Heavens!
- You may or may not travel the world, competing for a country’s sake, but if moments of hardships and victories allow you to fall in love with God, His word and presence more and more and more, you’re already a winner!
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:18-29 (NIV)
It is very possible for a busy and tired student-athlete or graduating student to follow the life and ministry of Jesus if he or she knows and understands God’s purpose for him or her. It is very possible to still go and make disciples in spite any given circumstance because one will put maximum priority to what truly matters.