“Whether you like it or not, you’re leading without having the title”. That’s the thought that has always driven me to be the type of person who intentionally directs people to be a greater person. And as a Sports Chaplain, Pastoring without a pulpit speaks volumes.
The old saying of “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care” is so evident in the life of sport.
It took a year into being a Sports Chaplain to establish a stable relationship with athletes,coaches as well as support staff. The reason for that, I believe, is that the more I was consistent in turning up and just being there, the more they saw me just being around and not wanting anything. This, in my opinion, was the key factor for them to see that a person actually cares and is wanting to help. Because of that, it broke downs walls of agenda and popularity.
I had to remind myself that I don’t have a title and I don’t have a platform– I am here for them. “Them” is everyone in the Sporting Club , from the CEO to the security guard at the gate. The more consistent I was, the more conversations opened up.The more I was available, the deeper relationships got. I soon realised that this was my church and that I was pastoring it without even realising it.
I remember building a great relationship with one particular player who was young and coming up through the ranks. Because I had developed the relationship, I knew I could invite him to church without it affecting our relationship. Worst case is that he could say no and that would be the end of that. But I felt something different when I asked him. This was his reply:
“Georgey!! How are you brother?? I’m great!! Training’s been good, played a few games, it’s good to be back on the park… Been too long!
For tonight.. Ahh I’m going to be honest I’m not really that keen, I really appreciate the offer but I think Im not ready yet… But I’d like to catch up soon to discuss some things… Church and me haven’t really seen eye to eye.. Since I was little my family didn’t go to church.. Mates have asked me to come over the years but I want to go when I don’t feel obliged to.. If you know what I mean…. I met a girl too…. I’d really like you to meet her as well, really cool girl, from up the coast. Grew up in church, Feels really strongly about God. Reminds me of you a bit… Sorry Georgie I know I’ve been putting it off but I think I need some time… Hopefully catch up soon when you’re free!!”.
To cut the long story short, this good Christian girl he met was also inviting him to attend church. He loved it so much he got saved that first night with his best mate. A year later, I was honoured enough to conduct their wedding. Today they attend church regularly when he is not playing, and they are wanting to run a connect group. Every now and then I look at his text message to me as an inspiration to keep being me and for God to keep using me in the place where he has placed me.
I soon realised that I don’t need a pulpit to help people. I don’t need a title. All I need to be is available, consistent and be real with people in order for Jesus to do what he wants to do. People are just after transparency and love. You don’t need a Pulpit just keep being you.
Author: George Dansy, Sports Chaplain at Hillsong Church Chaplain to the Parramatta Eels