Principle 1: Audience of One — On the Field

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Principle 1: Audience of One

Jarrod Lynn

The AIA Principles are the Gospel applied to sport, experienced through sport and spoken in the language of sport.  But before we move forward, we need to address this question: what is the gospel? Literally, it’s the Greek word for “good news.” It’s a message about an historical event that impacts all lives for all times.  In a small way, it’s like the American Revolution or WWII—whether you were directly involved or not, the whole world was impacted.

We see this all the time, right? Something happens and everyone is affected in some way. But Jesus, arguably the most famous person of all time, said and did things that have changed the world. Chiefly, Jesus lived the life we were meant to live and died the death we deserved to die. (1 Corinthians 15:1-3) In other words, God paid a great price to make us a free agent, now eligible to be on God’s championship team. What’s the main difference? You are no longer the star.  On God’s team, Jesus is the MVP–He runs the plays, not you. Are you cool with that? Will we accept this offer? That’s the real question…

And we’ll be addressing this throughout the year. But if you want to go further right now, then get plugged into a Sunday night Life Group.  Meet up with me or one of the AIA leaders or anyone regularly involved with AIA.  Go to church! Talk to Bree for details or email us and we’ll get you connected.

These 5 principles are assuming you are on God’s Team—or at the very least you’re interested. These five AIA principles of sport will give you a Biblical framework to help you see sport as an opportunity to worship God, so that you can participate in sport in a way that honors Him. Recall what AIA is a movement of athletes seeking to honor God in sport and life.

So, here are the 5 principles:

  • 1st Principle: Audience of One – For whom or what do we compete? Who or what is our audience?
  • 2nd Principle: Inside Game – What’s our motivation for competing?
  • 3rd Principle: Holy Sweat – How do we improve?
  • 4th Principle: Hurtin’ for Certain – How we handle adversity?
  • 5th Principle: Victory Beyond Competition – How do we live after competition?

Audience of One means simply this: God owns you and your sport. If this is true, then God calls the shots—and you don’t. It means you need to learn the plays and get to know the Coach. It means you need to practice and fail and try again. How do we all this? Stick around and we’ll be unpacking that more…

For now, I want us chew on the other audiences we perform for. I want to ask more questions than give answers. I want to get you thinking and curious…get you off the sidelines…get you to be active not passive…Recall: we’re a movement of athletes seeking to honor God in sport and life.

Now, if it’s not true, if God is not your one Audience, then who/what is calling the shots…? During the first week of school we put a display board where athletes could indicate the reason for why they play their sport. Their answers were all over the place! Some will say…to win…to compete…to have fun…to make friends…to be part of a community of athletes…to gain important skills or character traits like discipline, commitment, and teamwork.  None of these are bad reasons in and of themselves.

But if we’re honest, what some people won’t say–but we know to be true–when answering the question, “what is the purpose of sport?” and the answer is…MYSELF…to feel good about myself…to look good in front of others…to prove myself to others…to increase my self-esteem…to gain the respect and admiration of others…to meet the expectations of parents or siblings, whether those expectations are spoken or not…to feel valued and worth something, based on my performance…to have an identity, to not be some “regular” student…

In some sense, these are the real answers, the real purposes for which many of us play sports. It’s these audiences that we play for. And it’s these audiences that let us down, that fail to live up to the satisfaction we expect from them, and that will not last once my athletic career is done. I know because that it hit me hardest the Fall semester of my Junior year at Brown. I didn’t play football that season, nor did I sign up for a club sport or intramurals. The result? Terrible grades, out of shape, depressed, aimless…These were indicators that sport was my life and identity. Sport gave me value and worth. I was good at it and it felt good doing it. And I put so much of my life into sport that I didn’t know who I was without it.

It was like a drug that I was addicted to. I needed my fix. It’s as if I kept becoming parched and needed a drink. So I keep going back to the water bottle vending machine to pay for my water—but then I’d run out and have to go back. It’s like I’m doing sprints and have to get go for a water break after every sprint.  But it doesn’t have to be like that.  In fact, God doesn’t want it to be like that.

Imagine doing sprints but somehow were able to have an IV of fluids constantly connected to your body…? Have you seen those on the field? They’re incredible. Once connected, immediately your hydrated. This is kind of like what living life with and for Jesus does.  I don’t need to go back to the vending machine to pay for another bottle of fluids only to be quickly disappointed again.

Listen to what Jesus says about that: “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.  The water I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

So perhaps the question for you is: are you always, truly hydrated?

And if not, then why?

Read the handout and answer the questions for yourself. Better yet, get some other athletes to discuss this with you.


AIA Survey from Sept. 13, 2012 — Your Questions

Below are all the questions students wrote down on the first Thursday of the semester. We hope to tackle these throughout the year through this blog and/or through the large/small group gatherings we have each week.

  1. What’s worse: being vocal about faith and not living God’s plan or not being vocal at all?
  2. What’s the most substantial proof to you that Christ is Lord?
  3. Why should I believe?
  4. Why is the OT harsh?
  5. How do we understand and accept God’s plan when it seems to work against what we want (even though what we want is good)?
  6. How do we learn to hear God’s voice?
  7. How to incorporate family and sports with faith
  8. What are good ways to stay connected to God in college?
  9. What are the religious services around campus that I can attend?
  10. What do you do when you don’t believe something in the Bible?
  11. What does it mean to live every aspect of your life through God?
  12. How do I continue to blindly follow the Catholic religion if I question the validity of some of the ideals?
  13. Any tips on how I can control my thought life?
  14. How do I shake doubt?
  15. How to cope with sexual temptation
  16. How do I know that the Bible is not just a “legendary” story passed down from which people find morals/values?

AIA: Who What Why

WHAT IS AIA?

AIA is an international organization founded in 1966 in Ohio. It focuses on bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to college and professional athletes all over the country and world. AIA has sports teams, training centers, training conferences, missions trip opportunities, fall and winter retreats, and the infamous Ultimate Training Camp in Colorado (more on that later).

Locally…AIA is a support network…a community...a movement of athletes seeking to honor God in sport and life. The word “seeking” is intentional. We’re not perfect. We believe Jesus Christ is the Perfect one, and so that’s why we talk about Him and follow Him.

AIA is a bunch of broken people who don’t have it all figured out. We admit that freely because that’s where our faith begins. We’re NOT a clique (at least, we don’t want to be). We’re NOT an exclusive club. We’re NOT just a student group or an organization. We’re a Christian ministry that seeks to serve and bless the athletic community.

WHAT DOES AIA DO? Well…

  • We have these large group gatherings on Thursday nights, as well as Men’s & Women’s Life Groups on Sunday nights.
  • We throw various parties or social events.
  • We hang out.
  • We have a giant Nerf Gun Capture the Flag Tournament.
  • We giveaway Injured Athlete Care Kits to our teammates who spend all their time in the training room or on the sidelines.
  • We show up to each other’s events and scream our heads off.
  • We have home-cooked dinners with discussion on relevant topics.
  • We have a pumpkin-carving contest.
  • We have a gingerbread house competition.
  • We have t-shirts.
  • We probably do other stuff too…so you’ll just have to show up to find out.

WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT AT AIA?

You can expect all that I mentioned. You can expect that this place is a safe place to talk about sport, faith, and life. We want to be an authentic community that’s really tight and at the same time very welcoming and easy to get into. Remember, not a click or exclusive club. You can expect that we want to talk about relevant stuff. It’s just theoretical or theology—it’s practical and useful. You can expect that we’ll talk about faith and sport, but also about life: about dating and relationships, sex, marriage, time management, conflict, depression, addiction, drugs, alcohol, society, culture, and more. The reason we’ll talk about this stuff is not only because it’s relevant to you right now, and a lot it after you graduate, but it’s because God addresses all these things, through the person, works, and words of Jesus Christ. We don’t know it all or have it all together, but we believe we know the One who does…and we want you to know Him too.

WHO CAN BE INVOLVED AT AIA?

There are no “official” requirements to be part of this community. However, unofficially, I’d say you’d have to at least like sports, because this is what most of us do and talk about. We have all sorts of athletes: Varsity, former varsity, club, intramural, friends of athletes, wanna be athletes, and even some veteran athletes like myself.

Religious requirements? None! Yes, this is a Christian ministry. We believe Jesus Christ is the ultimate athlete. We believe that God the Father is the perfect coach and He’s actively recruiting us. He’s gone through great lengths and paid a great price to make us a free agent, enabling us to join His team and stop being on our own team. He wants us even though we’re rebellious, selfish, and (what the Bible calls) sinful.

To be on God’s team costs us nothing. We don’t need to tryout. He already sees the potential. The catch, if you can call it that, is that we must put down our own playbook or someone else’s playbook, and instead pick up God’s playbook…With a new coach and team come new plays and strategies. God doesn’t require a perfect performance, but He wants us to turn from our old ways and follow His ways. This is the essence of the Christian life, and this is what we discuss and dissect at AIA.

If none of that made sense, that’s okay—please come back because we’ll be unpacking this more every week. In fact, this semester on Thursdays, we’ll be going through the 5 AIA Principles and doing it in a variety of ways (not just me up here!): student stories, guest speakers like Brown Alumni, videos, group discussion, and learning interactive activities. It’s a great place to bring your teammates!

HOW CAN YOU BE INVOLVED IN AIA?

  • Show up every Thursday.
  • Come to Sunday night Life Groups.
  • Got an idea for a social event or party? Email us.
  • Want to be on the AIA leadership team to help shepherd this growing ministry? Let me know.
  • Have an idea for how to serve and bless athletes on your team or athletic community in general? Let us know.
  • Have more questions about sport, faith, and/or life? Let us know.

CONCLUSION

Here’s the last thing I want to say—you are always welcome here. Always. Here’s why I say that: every year, every semester, I see this happen. Some athletes come to AIA event once or twice, or they even come for half the stuff we do all year. But then the next semester, they stop coming.

Why do they stop? Well, it can be for a variety of reasons, some of which you’ll address as the semester goes on. For some, it will be because they get a boyfriend or girlfriend and then start cross some sexual boundaries that they believe would be unacceptable at AIA (as if we’re the moral police or something). For others it will be because they start drinking alcohol excessively or doing illegal drugs.

Let me tell you: I’m under no illusion that some of you are sexually active in some capacity right now. And that some of you are under some sort of “influence” that’s not natural. Statistically I know it’s very likely, and from experience I know that to be true—that was me in college (more on that another time) and I’ve seen it over the years.

If that person is you tonight, or if that becomes you at some point, I want to say this—I, we, AIA, still welcome you. No judgment, for only God is the ultimate judge. No condemnation, but no condoning either. We’ve got issues too, whether you see them or not. We’re about walking with God together, not about behavior modification. Are y’all tracking with me on this…?

Some people think they need to get their life together first and then come to God, and then they come to AIA. But it’s actually the opposite. The Christian says that I don’t have my life together and that’s why I need God. So, whether this is your first time here or your last time here, we love you and welcome you because God loves you and welcomes you.