With the London Olympics just seven weeks away Olympic Ministry Award Receiptent Mark Tronson, the chairman of Well-Being Australia is writing a weekly series of articles leading up to this world gala event which encapsulates the nations of the world in sport, politics, economics, culture, benevolency and religion.
Mark Tronson founded the Sports and Leisure Ministry in 1982 and headed up the sports ministry placing chaplains throughout Australian professional sports to 2000 and was himself the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years.
Last week he concluded Part 1 by stating that, if there is an awareness of personhood, an awareness of a self to be fulfilled or realised, then the athlete is in a position to exercise some control of his own life. Should such awareness be shared also by the Coach/Manager then a positive and creative relationship of mutual endeavour can develop in which both are fulfilled.
He noted that, to go back to where we began, how we define ourselves as persons is a crucial issue. If the person is defined or defines themselves merely in terms of sporting prowess the person that emerges is seriously stunted, under–developed, no matter what level of physical achievement is obtained.
He continues his reflections
Where an athlete can be aware of his personhood as a reality that exists in its own right, that they are in fact a person who happens to be engaging in a sports activity, then a totally different dimensions opens up.
For then the person can begin to deal with such questions as;
What does this mean activity mean to me?
Is this activity master or am I still in control?
How do I want to see myself in this activity?
How can I manage the pressures that are inevitably involved in a commitment to top level sport? What other aspects of my life contribute to myself realisation and what do I want to do about them?”
Because sport is a human activity the concern of the Christian must be to help the sports-person discover, retain and develop their human personhood while engaging in such activity.
Some Christian sports-persons have realised they are God’s child and that this defines their personhood and given them significance. They are then freed to give their best to some activity without depending upon their prowess in it to establish their identity or significance.
They are freed to give their best setting themselves high goals, they are also equipped to cope with failure, to win without that fact destroying them, and they are prepared for the time when they have to accept the fact that they have passed their best.
The Incarnation is Central
The key to the Christian self realisation and value recognition stems from the Incarnation – the God of the universe coming into time and space in human form, Jesus Christ. His death illustrates our value – His resurrection illustrates our victory through His sacrifice. It’s ours to receive through ‘faith’.
Some years ago, Mark Tronson a Baptist minister, was visiting a Roman Catholic Priest friend and as he entered the church building, he was immediately warmed, for at the front was this enormous green sign with white lettering:
“The Just Man shall live by Faith”
This he says is the critical component of self recognition. It is never something to be earned or won. That’s the troublesome issue in human thought.
It is all of God, nothing of us, its as brutal as that! An athlete has an even greater difficulty in recognising their true value as their ethos is all about winning.
Yet for the Christian athlete, winning is never the central issue for self fulfilment and recognition, rather than comes from Jesus Christ. No wonder in the New Testament (Acts of the Apostles) it says that the Christians turned the world upside down.
This is very applicable to the Lay Witnesses for Christ International Olympic ministry led by Dr Sam Mings whose team of chaplains will be in London for the Olympics, their eighth Olympiad in ministry. Their message of Jesus as Lord, is in like-manner, to turn the world upside down.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html