I worked in college sports for six years. Then, I worked in the church for two years. Since then, I’ve served in a church volunteer leadership role for another two years.
Despite some major differences between the church and sports, there are actually a few similarities between working in these two industries.
Both are a Labor of Love
Whether you work in the church or in sports, you’re clearly not in it for the money. Sure, professional athletes are millionaires. And some celebrity pastors sign six-figure book deals. But the majority of those working in these fields are not wealthy.
You choose to work in the church or sports for the passion more than the paycheck. To work in either field, you really need to love what you do. That’s because most of the work done behind the scenes is not only underpaid, it’s also underappreciated.
There’s a great deal of sacrifice in both careers. I can’t think of another line of work that requires you to work on weekends more often than a job in athletics or the ministry. However, people are willing to put in the hours because they find it internally rewarding.
Both Numb You to the Experience
Anyone who works in sports media relations knows that there is no cheering in the press box. Although you’re working for one of the teams competing, you cannot actively root for that team. Sports professionals must remain unbiased and objective while working.
After six years of working in sports, I grow numb to the excitement of going to sporting events. Because I attended so many games on a regular basis, I no longer felt the same thrill of victory or agony of defeat. The joy begins to wear thin over time.
The same can be true about working in the church for any extended period of time. Professional Christians can become so absorbed in the work of the church that they forget the spirit behind what they’re working for. It’s sometimes difficult for me to attend a worship service without noticing errors in the bulletin or improvements that could be made to the sermon.
Not to say that you can’t distinguish between professionalism and pleasure, but that line becomes much more blurred the more you work in a certain field.
Both are About People
Ultimately, the reason that anyone would want to work in either the church or for a sports team is because of the people. The memories I have from both my time in these fields is not about the events, or the places, but the people I worked with.
Sports revolves around building loyalty for a team and giving the fans a reason to keep attending games. The church revolves around building a relationship with Jesus Christ and giving followers a reason to keep attending worship.
Working in the ministry or in athletics can be a low-paying, thankless, numbing experience. But the passion that drives people into these fields is ultimately about working with wonderful people.