There’s an outward form of worship and an inward one. Recently, I was listening to an interview with Brooke Fraser from Hillsong, who helped write the song “What a Beautiful Name It Is,” which won a Grammy. She talked about this idea of both outward and inward worship and how to handle the accomplishment of winning a Grammy and giving God the glory for it. There’s always the temptation of keeping some for yourself.
I resonated with this. Although we are on a much smaller platform than the Grammys, people have been paying more attention to U.S. Softball as we head into the 2020 Olympics. During my first few years with the team, it seemed like no one cared or even knew who was on the team. Now, so many fans are invested and excited for our sport. Once the roster for the 2019 team was announced and my name was mentioned, I immediately received calls from sponsors, which has never happened before. I had to ask myself, “How am I going to handle this attention and continue to worship God by playing softball for Him?”
My outward form of worship includes giving glory to God through the way I play my sport, how I treat my teammates, how I handle success and failure, and how I respect my coaches’ authority. Inwardly, my worship is about where I choose to allow my identity to lie and how I worship God when no one is around. He is truly the most important thing to me, and has to remain so over any gold medal or success I might achieve.
When you combine your passion with your God-given talent and He allows you to have success in that, there’s so much good that can result, but the enemy will want to taint that by tempting us to keep some of that glory to ourselves. We are always called to reflect all the glory back to God.
Glory is never to take, but always to give. For those of us who play sports, society tells us that the fame belongs to the person who puts in the work and sees success. To reflect 100 percent of the glory back to God is difficult, but it’s what we’re called to do.
I find joy in playing softball, and even training for it. It’s a powerful form of worship for me. Sometimes, in the midst of the grind, midway through the summer as we are living out of our suitcases, I need to lean on my community to find joy in the process. I’m not just surrounded by the best softball players in the U.S., these are some of the greatest people period. That’s why we need community so badly — not only to get you through the grind, but to do so with true joy.
If we’re not filled with joy in the thing God’s asking us to do, something’s missing. Three years ago when I started to become burnt out on softball, I asked God, “If this is where You want me, give me a fire in my belly that can’t be put out.” He came through and renewed my love for the game and gave me a community among my teammates that I could lean on. Now, I always tell younger players, “If you don’t want to work hard, ask God to put a fire inside you.”
— Janie Reed, USA Softball outfielder
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