Created to Play


USA Olympic athlete David Smith discusses Christ's calling for his life and how that realization has helped on the court.

I was raised in a home with Christian parents, and I knew who Christ was. I literally grew up down the street from our church, where they taught the Bible and really dug in. I was there on Sundays and Wednesdays and did everything I could get my hands on.

I had an understanding of who Christ was, and I knew I needed salvation for my sins. It was true faith, but I was always struggling with how to apply that to my life. I had a lot of distractions; for me, sports were the biggest rivals with God. Growing up, I didn’t understand that God made sports for me for a reason; not as a rival with Him but something I could use to glorify Him.

In college, I got a few really good mentors to encourage me in my life outside volleyball and other things I was struggling with. One friend has really encouraged me to connect the dots between my life in Christ and my volleyball; they’re not two separate things. That was a big step for me. My life outside of volleyball is not very big; it’s what I train for and how I structure my day. But I can’t just check Christ at the door; He wants to be in there with me. He created me to be a volleyball player so He can play with me and give me confidence and peace and inspiration.

I realize now that Christ’s calling for me is where I am at right now. It’s been a big thing for me this year to understand that my joy and my peace does not revolve around my performance or how I do compared to other people. My joy comes from the fact that I am playing a game I love and that He created me to play.

My faith comes out on the court when I play with peace. I also try to be encouraging to my teammates, and my attitude toward them is not reflective of how we’re doing. My role has been to be encouraging and upbeat; it’s a tense environment out there and guys want to perform and be the best. We’re all fighting for a roster spot and time on the court. I’ve tried to just encourage them to do the best they can do, even if it means I don’t get the time on the court.

I am understanding that my everyday life is volleyball: that’s my job, my vocation, what I’ve been called to do, the ministry I’ve been set in. It’s a mission field that I’m stomping all over if I don’t take care of those opportunities that I have right now. I am still learning and struggling, but I have my wife and friends to support me, keep me accountable and point me in the right direction.

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