Throughout the years, one of the questions people ask about my role as team chaplain for the Colorado Rapids is, “Do you ever kick around with the guys?”
Back in the days when I served the Colorado Rapids as a Public Relations Assistant, we used to have an annual event called the “Media Cup.” Here, there were sometimes an opportunity to play small sided games with the Rapids players, coaches, and media members to help promote awareness and build interest back in a day when soccer was trying to come into its own amongst the other professional sports like the NFL, NHL, MLB, and NBA.
There was a time, too, in team history, when the Rapids trained at a facility in a northern suburb and then commuted to Mile High Stadium. The training fields were wide open, and sometimes, while watching a training session as chaplain, I would help shag (chase) errant balls or clean up after a team’s training session. One particular occasion, I remember a player calling for me to kick him a ball. I took the nearest ball and struck with all my might. The result was disappointing to say the least – I am not sure if it would have been worth timing how long the ball took to get to him, but it was definitely not at the professional level that he was used to receiving on the field from his teammates.
I keep the incident in my mind to remind me of something very important (and it serves to somewhat answer the question above): as team chaplain, my main job and task is not to strike a ball like the pros that I serve. My role is to be the representative, the very presence of God to the players, coaches, staff and their families. My devotion and work is not to see how well I can compete with professional players – there is a reason they are professionals. My role is to be the best pastor, minister, chaplain, counselor, etc. that I am called to be as team chaplain. I would rather be able to pray well over a person or situation. I would rather be attuned to the emotional and spiritual needs of the athletes, coaches, staff members, and their families. These are the things that I have been made for and called to do – the ways that I can best serve.
Sometimes it can be a difficult temptation, when we find ourself working or serving in a somewhat glamorous environment to aspire to be like those we are serving or to want to show our best – but we must be careful to be the best at what God has called and created us to be, not at something that we are not.
Rev. Brad Kenney