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How to Play with Purpose

Published on June 01, 2024

By Amber Johns
FCA Upstate New York Director

“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast, and when I run, I feel his pleasure.” 
- Eric Liddell, 1924 Olympian and missionary


Scottish runner Eric Liddell’s story is legend and famously portrayed in the movie Chariots of Fire. Liddell grew up in a missionary family but also had a gift of running. His feet took him to the Olympics in 1924 before going to China as a missionary.

To those who are familiar with Liddell’s story, we can see how sports and faith intersect in a way only God can orchestrate. As athletes, we are made a certain way. We are made to be strong, fast, tall, short, explosive, and competitive. We are willing to sacrifice our time and our bodies for the chance to win. Many of us do not recognize our athletic ambition and ability as a gift from God and a way for us to worship Him. God takes great pleasure in watching us use our athletic and competitive gifts. This takes the pressure off our performance and centers us around our motivation, which we should ask ourselves about. Do we play for an audience of one?

We must first get to the heart of our purpose in life before we can recognize how to compete with a sense of purpose and as an act of worship. We must be honest that sports can easily unleash a selfish side in all of us. We can be so inwardly focused on our performance we fail to look outward at the opportunity to reflect His glory.

When we walk onto the field or the track, or pick up that racket, do we acknowledge the only reason we are out there is because our Creator wills it to be so? We can easily lose sight of our greater purpose in sports, and that’s to make Him known. How do we compete with purpose?

Read the rest of the article to learn how to find true purpose as a competitor.