The Fruits of the spirit at work...literally!

An athletic trainer isn’t the person who gets people in shape by creating workouts and nutrition plans.  Rather, an athletic trainer is most often the first one on scene when an athlete is injured. We work to prevent injuries, but when they inevitably occur, we are the first ones to assess and determine a course of action. A role like this demands authority. We are told, in college, by supervisors, by administration, that we have to be tough or we will be walked all over. Now, add in the fact that as a female in this world, you have to be even more severe and uncompromising. I needed to prove I could succeed in a profession where the fruits of the spirit often sit the bench. 

The first few years as a high school athletic trainer, I did a pretty good job at being tough. While I had good relationships with my athletes and coaches, I was strict, stern, and honestly, sometimes a jerk.  I put rules into place that really did nothing other than point out I had authority. However, as my intimacy with God increased, heaviness began to weigh on my heart. How was I representing Christ in my workplace? I was doing well at home and in church. But the place I am for 8-10 hours a day seemed like a pretty important place for me to be pointing to God. So far, I had done a lousy job.  I volunteered at our local FCA huddle group, but outside of that I don’t know that I really showed I was a follower of Christ to my athletes and coworkers.

I left that school after three years, had a brief stint in Kentucky, and then moved to Fort Wayne. In that time, I had gone from single to married, and from a church hopper to actively involved in a church plant.  As my intimacy with God deepened, I decided to change the way I operated at my workplace. I decided to take Romans 12:2 to heart. The scripture reads: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” Being conformed to the world means doing exactly as the world would do. Conforming to the world is leaving our personal life (and spiritual life) at the door when we walk in to work. You may ask, “How do we NOT conform?” Well, it’s not just sheer willpower. Romans 12:2 answers that question – by being transformed by the renewal of your mind. Transformed indicates a permanent change. This is a change that sticks! We are transformed when we renew our mind. John Piper stated, “We renew our mind by pursuing Christ, exalting truth, and praying for truth embracing humility.” Simply put, we actively seek Christ and ask for his help. We ask for the Holy Spirit, who dwells inside of us, to renew our mind.

Over the last two years, I have tried to do this. I seek God’s help against conforming to the world by utilizing the fruits of the spirit. I try to show love to each athlete that walks through my door. I find fresh joy in my job. I learn to approach situations as a peacemaker rather than a dictator.  Patience… I work with high schoolers. I’m still working on this one! But in reality, I try to be patient with these kids. I try to go out of my way to show kindness, specifically to kids that might not experience much kindness in their home life. I try to exhibit goodness in my actions by showing compassion, integrity, and honesty; faithfulness by praying for my athletes, my school, the community; gentleness and self-control in handling situations appropriately and not abusing my authority. While it’s hard to quantify results of these changes, two instances point to this new type of success I was looking for. First, a coach came up to me at the end of season and asked “How can the two of us work together to make a bigger impact for Christ?” And second, I spent the summer discipling one of my former athletes and watching her spiritually flourish. These are a testament to God and the transforming work He is doing in my life.

There are too many people conforming to the ways of the world. My question to you is this: Are you conforming to the world’s expectation of who you should be, or are you actively seeking who God desires for you to be?



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