Sunday, October 11, 2015

“What Basketball Taught Me About Marriage”

Basketball - a game you may have played or possibly a sport you don't understand, but regardless of where you stand I pray these words are an encouragement and offer some insight. This last weekend I was privileged to share at my niece, Clara's bridal shower. Fifteen years ago she was gearing up for her freshman year on the basketball team and I was prepping for my first year as a high school coach on the same team.

As I thought about Clara (#12), her upcoming wedding and future as a wife, I realized there is much basketball has taught me about marriage. (In case you're not a wife, the preparation process also reminded me I learned much about mothering, ministry and walking in faith too, so please read on.) I’m going to pretend we’re back on the sidelines or huddled in the locker room and share some insights with you -

In basketball, there are some common phrases coaches use and one of the first you hear is “Keep your head up.” Or “Look up.” This is important as you dribble the ball down the court, but it’s even more critical as you walk through life. 2 Corinthians 4:18 tells us, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” You no longer need to keep your head up to see the floor or find an open teammate, but to see Christ and follow His lead! He’s the One who will help you be the wife your husband needs you to be and God created you to be!

Another common phrase was “Box Out” or “Play Defense”. This was critical in the game as you worked to get the ball away from your opponent and keep them from taking what was yours. Friends, we know Satan is real and marriage is under attack, be prepared to battle as a wife in bigger ways than you ever did on the court! Put on the armor and stand strong…box the devil out! "Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." (Ephesians 6:11)

“Protect the ball” may be another phrase you remember. The little orange ball was a prized possession…with it you could do much, but the opponent was always out to steal it away. Your opponent as a wife is out to steal something bigger so you must guard your heart. Proverbs 4:23 gives us some wisdom, “Above all else, guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.”

One final common word from coaches was “TALK!!” Defense was much stronger when teammates talked to one another and your marriage will be much better when you communicate with each other! Use your voice to encourage your husband, ask for help and share your thoughts. Ephesians 4:29 puts it like this, "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Most importantly use your words to talk to God. Pray for your husband, your marriage and yourself!

Quotes were also part of the game and a few familiar ones relate to marriage as well as the sport. “Know your role” is the first to come to mind. Some players are the stars, others warm the bench, but every player is important. In basketball different positions have different roles…the point guard dribbles the ball, the wings shoot the 3, the post work the lane. It's sometimes said, the point guard is a coach on the floor and I think in a similar way we could say our husbands are the point guard in marriage. They still must submit and listen to the Heavenly Coach, but they are the leader in the family. As a wife you have many roles too, learn what they are and do them well. Ephesians 5:22-33 and 1 Peter 3:1-6 present a great game plan! (If the word, SUBMIT, caught you off guard I encourage you to visit my friend, Wendy's site and read this POST.)

Another favorite was “Attitude is Everything”. Basketball was a physical game, but it took mental strength as well. So does marriage. Attitudes could be positive or negative, confident or cocky, but Philippians 2:5-8 paints the picture of the attitude we need as wives -“But have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Humility is what it’s all about!

Together Everyone Achieves More is a popular acronym for the word t-e-a-m and it was true on the court, but it’s more than the generic idea of teamwork. Recently God brought to mind a memory from my sophomore year…Sonya, another guard, and myself were quite competitive and prided ourselves on getting steals and rebounds. Well, a few games into the season we started a little competition to see who could get the best score each game. We had some formula that added the positive stats and subtracted the negative ones. After each game we’d check the stat sheet, do the math and declare a winner. The coach saw this, had a little chat with us and put an end to our competition. He told us, "Quit keeping score! You're on the same team." This has been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn as a wife…you can’t compare his opportunities, his roles, his duties to yours and don’t ever keep score. I like to say Psalm 34:3 is our marriage verse because it presents our mission - “Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together.” 

Don’t Quit - In basketball things didn’t always go your way - there were losses, injuries and disappointments; marriage will have ups and downs too. Sometimes you might be the wife of the week and other times you might feel like a failure, but remember God doesn’t expect perfection. He does want us to persevere. Phil 3:14 - “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Learn from others - As a freshman on the basketball team, you were a bit nervous and unsure, but you had the opportunity to learn from the varsity players and ask questions of the coaches. As years went by you also set an example for the players who came up after you, it’s the same in marriage. Titus 2:3-5 tells us, “the older women should train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind and to be subject to their husbands so that no one will malign the Word of God.” Reach out to those who are a step ahead and remember you are setting an example for those following behind.

And finally to use a FCA motto - “Play for an audience of One”! As a wife you don’t need to please the people around you and God didn’t put you in this role to please your husband either. You are here to glorify Him. I know it’s hard to believe, but you might not always make your husband happy. Though that is true by bringing the two of you together God will work to make you both holy. Live out Galatians 1:10 and you’ll be on your way! “Am I know trying to win the approval of man or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

To wrap it all remember it’s about the LOVE! In high school I had a shirt that said something like “The coach can put you on the team, a scout can get you a scholarship, but only the LOVE can make you a player.” Love played a role in the sport, but it’s critical when it comes to marriage and being a wife. Remember to receive God’s love and then be willing to share it with your husband. 1 John 4:19 sums it up quite well, “We love because He first loved us.”

Basketball is simply a game that’s meant to be played, but friends marriage is a commitment that is meant to be kept! Rather than huddling up, putting our hands together and doing a quick "TEAMWORK!" let's unite our hearts in prayer, humble ourselves before the Lord and ask for help to do what He's called us to!

Dear Heavenly Father, Lord, we come before You now and admit we can't do a wife, a Mom, a woman in ministry on our own. Thank you for all You've taught us and the lessons we've learned even from a game that teach us about our roles. Help us keep our eyes on You and be women who seek, love and obey You! May we learn from one another and encourage each other. Lord, we put our marriages in Your hands and pray they would be a picture of Your love for the church. Help us be women who first submit to You and then our husbands. Help us put on the armor and stand strong against the schemes of Satan who is out to divide and destroy our relationships. And Father as we receive Your love and grace, help us share with others, especially those who mean the most. In Jesus' Name, Amen


  1. You know you're speaking to my heart! Thank you for this post. LOVE the analogies. You're showing us how to play to win as opposed to playing not to lose! Love you Jill!

  2. I am so amazed at the ways in which God spoke these truths into your life as such a young baller, and how He continued to give you such vital life applications for your marriage and family that you could also share with us. My guess is that there wasn't a dry eye in the house as you shared such a beautiful message at Clara's bridal shower - all based upon the court time you shared during those memorable high school seasons. What a bond the two of you must have! Thank you, Jill, for these wonderful insights. I feel God's tug on my heart as He teaches me through you. Much love to you and all my best wishes to Clara and her fiancé.

  3. Wow!! What a powerful teaching and analogy. You truly have a gift to take the ordinary in our lives ... farm life and now basketball ... and bring out powerful spiritual truths that are easy to understand and apply. Thank you, thank you for this great teaching!!!!!

  4. I loved this, Jill! I love the verse you pray over your marriage, “Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together.” So cool! Praying that now over the whole body of Christ. May we all exalt His name together. I began praying Ephesians 6:10-20 daily a few weeks ago over the body of Christ, as I wondered if God said to do this for a year, yet after doing this a year it might turn into a lifetime. :) May we all be guarded against the enemies attacks and take up our Sword of God's Word and fight every lie, in Jesus' name. You could make a devotional out of your posts! It would bless many people. May God open the door for that if that be His will.