Raising Champions: How to Help Your Child Maximize Their God-Given Potential

At Mt. Bethel, we understand the benefits playing sports provides for kids. It’s why we’re incredibly grateful for our recreation ministry which serves one thousand families from the Cobb County, GA, community by hosting seasonal sports programs for various age groups.

One of those programs, in partnership with Atlanta Kings Football, is our annual Flag Football and Pro Performance Summer Camp, led by Atlanta Kings founder and former NFL player Michael Dean.

Michael recently sat down with “TalkitUp” podcast host and Mt. Bethel Executive Director of Next Generation Ministries Matt Lake to share with parents how they can help their student athlete maximize their talent and potential. Here are three important takeaways from their conversation:

Connect Your Child to Their Foundation

“Sports is a long journey,” says Michael. He continues by explaining that this is why it’s important for parents to help their child understand their purpose early-on, and strategically act to keep him or her connected to that purpose.

He recommends sitting down with your child when he or she begins a sport and asking them to write down why they want to play, their goals for the season, and the individual steps they’re willing to commit to in order to reach their goals.

“Any time things become fragmented, you can go back to their ‘why’ and their goals,” Michael explains.

From there, you can partner with your child’s coaches to help them develop as an athlete and become their best self. It will also keep you in the moment, which leads to another important point: enjoy the moments.

Enjoy the Moments 

“I tell parents all the time to enjoy the moments,” says Michael. “Really lock into the moments you’re being able to spend with your child in the season they’re in right now.”

Sports, especially at the youngest level, teach much more than the game your child is playing. Kids who play learn life lessons like how to answer to authority, working well with others, developing work ethic, etc. But probably most importantly, all of this is feeding their self-worth.

When parents enjoy the moments, it helps their child enjoy the moments too.

“Comparison is the thief of joy,” states Michael. Your child needs to know their self-worth isn’t in the outcome or performance of a game.

Teach Your Child to Pray 

For parents who want to raise their child in the Christian faith, it’s important to help your kid understand their identity comes from Christ and not from sports or the activity they’re involved in.

Michael recalls one of the most impactful things his parents did to help him develop as an athlete and a person was teaching him how to pray.

“We prayed together. We prayed before and after games, and it gave me peace,” says Michael. “It taught me to depend on God in my darkest moments. I mean, I’d drop a ball and I’d say a prayer while running back to the huddle. And it helped me connect my purpose [in football] to God’s purpose [for me].”

He follows this up by adding, if you can help your kid understand how foundational prayer is, they’ll begin to grasp that next to faith, “everything else is trivial. It’s something your child will, like I have, carry with them throughout the rest of their life.”

Dive deeper into each of these points and more, including the practical tips Michael shares, by listening to Episode 7 | Raising Champions: Parenting Student Athletes of “TalkitUp” below or on your favorite podcast platform.