“The third time He said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ He said, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed My sheep.'” — John 21:17
Feed My Sheep
In the New Testament, Jesus identified Himself as the Good Shepherd, a shepherd who knows His sheep and even lays His life down for them. When I picture Jesus as a leader in the sports realm, I don’t envision His main focus being to churn out trophy after trophy. Yes, success may be a byproduct, but I believe Jesus is more concerned with the process and what lies beneath the jersey in the depths of one’s heart.
In sports and in life, it’s very easy to get swayed toward an earthly mindset. By “earthly mindset” I mean caught up in the ways and demands of the world. Jesus reminds us to abide in Him, and have an eternal Kingdom mindset. As believers, our game plan is to focus on God above all else, and then focus on the community around us.
Jesus says to Peter, “If you love Me, feed My sheep.” In this passage, the “sheep” represent people. The sheep are teammates, coaches, department staffs, neighbors, brothers/sisters, strangers and friends. The people that God has positioned in our path are not coincidental. In our everyday walk, we have an opportunity to be the salt and light of the world by allowing Jesus to guide our life to those who need to hear or be encouraged by the Good News.
There isn’t an interaction too big or too small that God won’t use for His glory. A postgame press conference, a pregame pep talk, individual practices, you name it — every interaction with other human beings is significant in the eyes of the Lord. We can ask God to open our eyes and reveal to us how He desires to move in the community around us.
At times, I can relate to Peter and be offended when God asks me to change part of my behavior. But James 2:17 says “faith without works is dead.” It’s one commitment to confess that Jesus is Lord, and another to show Christ’s love in your actions to others.
I urge you to examine the sphere of influence around you. Whether you’re coaching a team to the playoffs, or trying to make a team, there is purpose in the day-to-day relationships that fill our busy lives. “Feed My sheep” simply means to love those who God has placed in your life (both the people who bring joy and hardship). We love people well when we are emptied of ourselves and overflowing with the wellspring of life: Jesus. We must stay connected to the Source, and remain in constant companionship with our wise Counselor. We love truly because He first loved us.
— Karlie Smith
If you would like to submit a reader devotional, please email all submissions to