Editor’s note: To help Christian sportspeople navigate these uncertain times, we will be publishing a series of posts focused on what it looks like to “Run The Race Well” in a time of coronavirus and quarantine. We will be getting contributions from a variety of perspectives: theologians, philosophers, athletes, coaches, mental health professionals, seminary students, and more. This post comes from Taneka Rubin, an author, speaker, and professional basketball player in Europe.
After spending 6 months in Spain, my basketball season ended abruptly. My team was making history. We were undefeated and preparing to head into the playoffs with the wind at our backs. We heard the news of COVID-19 spreading in Europe, but it seemed so far away. We felt limitless. Unstoppable. As if the chaos in the world couldn’t possibly impede our success. Then it hit Spain, and in three days our city was on lockdown. Less than a week later I was on a plane back to the United States. Just like that, it was over.
I’m not proud to admit I was only thinking of myself when the news broke. My thoughts were centered on what I was going to do, and how this would impact me moving forward. Then I heard God’s voice clear as day: “It’s not about you.”
I was so concerned about my own circumstances that I didn’t even realize what was really taking place in the world. In the grand scheme of things, my basketball career was a small issue.
Athletes and coaches are all in the same position right now. Our careers are at a standstill, and the future is uncertain. So what do you do when things in your life get tough? One word: serve.
This is a principle I’ve adopted for myself. When life is hard or I’m waiting to hear from God, I look for a place to serve. The Apostle Paul reminds us of the importance of this practice in his address to the church at Philippi. “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
Count others more significant than yourselves. This is such a challenge, especially during the pandemic. The world is in an upheaval, yet the Bible commands us to put others’ interests before our own. When I read this Scripture I see beautiful imagery of people laying down their own burdens to pick up someone else’s. Imagine a world where everyone placed the well-being of their neighbor before their own. This is Christ’s way of doing things, and it is truly for our benefit.
When I lay down my problems to serve someone else my perspective shifts. The worries that were once consuming my thoughts turn into a song of gratitude as I realize it’s not about me. There are so many people hurting right now. People who need to see God’s heart in action. As we submit ourselves to servanthood we will see God’s goodness in our situation. He will gently remind us of His grace and mercy in our own lives. No matter how bad it is, it could always be much worse.
I encourage you to look for a place to serve. Here are some ways you can put others first during this time—while keeping social distancing in mind of course!
- Check-in on your friends, family, and neighbors.
- Donate what you have (food, possessions, money, or even blood)
- Find a place to volunteer your time. This might include opportunities to volunteer in a virtual environment.
- Share an encouraging message online.
- Support a small business.
- Cook a meal for someone—or order one from a local restaurant.
These are just a few ideas. May God open up your eyes to the many other ways you can be a blessing. Not only will it bring you joy, it could be the reason someone decides to follow Jesus.
My basketball season may be over, but God is still at work. He always is. And He is inviting you and I to be part of that work whether we are playing sports or not. So let’s look for ways to serve, even in the midst of this uncertainty. It may not be easy, but this is truly the heart of Christ.
About the author: Taneka Rubin is a professional basketball player overseas, and author of the book Winners Win. She graduated from Florida A&M University with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. She also graduated from the University of East London with a Master’s in International Business. Taneka has lived in five different countries where she’s learned to appreciate the beauty of cultural differences. She uses her experiences on and off the court to encourage and inspire the next generation. Follow her on Twitter (@Taneka_Rubin) or Instagram (@tanekarubin).