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The Main Thing

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes engages coaches and athletes to grow in their faith and sport.

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The Main Thing

Written by Jamie Jenilek 

 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. - I Corinthians 10:31

When I played college hockey, one of my teammates would sometimes jokingly quote Stephen Covey during our workouts: “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”. While the redundancy of this phrase was sometimes comical (especially the way in which my teammate quoted it), I always thought about the sentence and about how true it was in principle. When interpreted, this phrase could read something to the effect of, “the main focus is to keep your primary goal at the forefront”. Think about hockey; typically, the primary goal is to win. The coach’s and players’ focus should be to keep the primary goal of winning at the forefront of their collective efforts. If a player decides that his personal point totals or flashy play are most important, then the primary goal of the team winning is at risk. Too often players seek what is best in the context of their own success instead of “keeping the main thing the main thing”. The most successful teams are those that have selfless players who are willing to make personal sacrifices in order for their team to achieve the main goal.

What about our lives in general? What’s “the main thing”? Are we keeping it our primary focus? During my college hockey days, I would have told you that Jesus was at the forefront of my life, but my attitude and heart sometimes contradicted that perception. I was frequently a healthy scratch, watching my teammates play from the stands and I would consistently plead with Jesus to allow me to play. Now, I do want to point out that it is not a bad thing to pray for Jesus to give us certain things in our lives; but what truly matters is our heart’s ultimate desire and what is more important to us. If you had asked me, “Would you be okay if it was Jesus’ plan for you to not play a single game for the rest of your life?”, my answer would have been “no”, or at best a reluctant “yes”. Looking back, Jesus was important, but my heart wanted to succeed at the college level maybe a little more. I was upset if I wasn’t allowed to play, and I wasn’t actively seeking out opportunities to glorify Jesus by loving my teammates regardless of my own personal situation.

Does your heart desire Jesus more than anything else? Do you want Jesus more than success in hockey? Would you be okay if Jesus didn’t allow you to succeed because He wanted to teach you something or do something through you that was more critical than your own “success”? Don’t get me wrong, it is important to give Jesus our very best efforts in life (including hockey) and to compete like warriors for Christ. Hard work is important but we also can’t let ourselves become so immersed in the small tasks to the point where we miss the “main thing”: Jesus. One day, most of you will be like me, looking back on your competitive hockey career once it has come to an end. I sometimes wonder what kind of impact I could have had for the kingdom if I truly had a longer term perspective with Jesus at the forefront. Did I show others who Jesus is or did I pursue my personal dreams more than I pursued Jesus? Did I serve? Did I love?

Discussion Questions

  1. Is Jesus the “main thing” in your life? If so, what do you do on a daily or weekly basis that reflects this
  2. Are there any distractions in your life that keep you away from Jesus? Are there ways to take action to adjust your situation to ensure that Jesus is the “main thing”?

Further Reading

  1. James 4:3
  2. Colossians 3:1-2

About the Author

Jamie Jelinek is a former Division 1 Hockey player at Holy Cross who now works in Washington, DC.  He has been involved with FCA Hockey for several years after serving as a camp counselor and starting the team hockey huddle at Holy Cross.  Today he serves on the National Leadership Board of FCA Hockey.

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