Australian soccer star, Tim Cahill, recognises this as he recalls growing up playing soccer with his family in the local park.
“For as long as I can remember, I have always played football and I recall playing as a youngster with my dad, older brother Sean, and younger brother Chris in the local parks in Sydney, where I was born and raised. I can remember it getting a bit tasty between us boys and I think it was my dad’s way of installing a work ethic and competitive streak in all of us. At the time I didn’t really appreciate it as all I wanted to do at a young age was have fun but, looking back, those early days of getting stuck into my brothers set the tone for my future.” www.timcahill.com
Beyond the sporting ability we develop, I believe we gain important life skills from our backyard play and as we grow older our training should not stop; it will just be in the context of a different setting.
Joseph, Moses and David are good examples from the bible of great men who had to go through a tough training ground.
David’s time looking after his father’s sheep became the foundation for his relationship with God and equipped him for leadership of Israel.
Joseph was traded by his brothers and became a slave in Egypt, but this was the training God needed to take him through in order to save Egypt and his family from a severe famine.
Moses fled his ‘backyard’ after killing an Egyptian and ended up connecting with a family and helping them with their farm work. Even when he was called to rescue the Israelites he did not feel equipped but God knew he was ready.
Alert to the teaching God has for us
Just as Joseph, Moses and David experienced God’s training school for the task set before them we too must be alert to the teaching God wants to give us in the situations and relationships we face.
For children, the area out the back of the house may still be their training ground. If you are a parent with young children I strongly urge you to coax them outside rather than to sit in front of a screen. The benefits of this experience will be life-long and a step to success in life, relationships and career. As they play you can enhance this by staying alert for teachable moments or ways to bring out the best in them.
Those of us who have ‘outgrown’ the backyard must realise we are still in a season of training. Whatever the task that God has for us He desires to train and teach us lessons that will equip us to be His representatives and to fulfil the calling on our lives.
What and where is your training ground and are you learning the lessons you need to so you can become a great servant of God? We are created for greatness but only through practice and learning shall we achieve this status.
Tim Wilson is married with two children who served with YWAM for five years in Brisbane and now serving in mission in Canada.
Tim Wilson's archive of articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/tim-wilson.html