Tim Challies writes an interesting article here about the lack of physical education at Christian Schools.
Having spent many years in the same schools as Tim (except the Scotland stint) I can attest to the same physical training, or lack thereof. I also had very little athletic inclinations in school, and unlike Tim, was rather short and nearsighted. Those who excelled in grade school sports did so because of natural talent, or because of training elsewhere, usually in city leagues.
Most of this, like Tim mentioned, is because Christian schools in Ontario are private schools, and private schools do not get any public funding. (This varies by province, but Ontario schools get $0). So with the limited funding, the private Christian schools do what they can, and put biblically based education at the top of the priority list, with subjects like PhysEd and shop at the very bottom of the list. This has long been a complaint of the private schools, but alas, there’s only so much money to go around.
Tim applies this lack of physical training, wondering what kind of potential sits in the pews of so many churches each week. He decries the lack of training most churches give, leaving their members sitting idle, unaware of their potential.
While there is so much truth in this, we are also completely responsible for our own training. Going back to school, I was rather uncoordinated in school, and decidedly un-athletic. However, once I started working, several coworkers dragged me out running at lunch, and now I’m a runner. Not particularly fast, but I can run. Tim’s lovely wife told me about a Christian recreational soccer league, and now I’m a soccer nut. (I’d even like to say that I’m somewhat valuable on the team, playing sweeper and all, but that’d be bragging, so I’ll leave that up to my team to decide).
My learning to run and play soccer wasn’t due to any special training or coaching. I merely saw others doing it, and thought “I can do that too.” A little determination, a bit of pain, and here I am today, almost 30 and still fit. (My goal is to hit 50 and still be fit, but that’s another story).
Back to churches. Bemoaning the lack of proper spiritual training in churches is a perfectly valid complaint. We are however responsible for our own actions, and there’s nothing preventing us from learning on our own. I learned to run by watching, reading, and practicing. Same with soccer. We can also learn to be spiritual leaders by watching role models (make sure you pick good ones though!), reading, and practicing. The temptation is to sit back and think that the runners, soccer players, and spiritual leaders have natural talent, and the rest of us don’t, so why bother.
That is a completely false presumption. Most runners you see on the streets every day don’t have natural talent, they just go out and run. Most soccer players playing on city fields every evening aren’t in David Beckham’s league, and don’t have much natural talent. The runners and players simply go out, practice, learn, and play. Most spiritual leaders don’t have much natural talent either, but have one thing in common. They pray, read and are filled with the Spirit. (Note that by “most” I mean that the David Beckham’s, the Olympians, and the Billy Graham’s of the world are not included. They are typically in 0.5% of the population who do have some special talents. The other 99.5% of us are the ones I’m talking about).
So take some initiative. Buy some running shoes. Pick up a soccer ball. Buy a good book from your local Christian bookstore. Become a leader.