“Fill Your Cup for Christ”: An Interview with Kramer Soderberg
St. Josemaria explains: “With Our Lord we will discover how to give a supernatural dimension to all our actions, even those that seem least important. We will learn to live every moment of our lives with a lively awareness of eternity, and we will understand more deeply man’s need for periods of intimate conversation with his God, so as to get to know him, to invoke him, to praise him, to break out into acts of thanksgiving, to listen to him or, quite simply, to be with him. Many years ago, as I reflected upon Our Lord’s way of doing things, I came to the conclusion that the apostolate, of whatever kind it be, must be an overflow of the interior life” (Friends of God, no. 239).
In this interview, the St. Josemaria Institute speaks with Kramer Soderberg about how his new book, Fill Your Cup for Christ, seeks to inspire readers to discover their gifts and talents to build the kingdom of God and to allow the grace of Christ to overflow into the ordinary moments of everyday life.
Q: Can you share with us a little bit about yourself: your background, family, work and life of faith.
Kramer: I’ve been a college basketball coach for 9 years now and am currently the assistant Men’s basketball coach at Millikin University in Decatur, IL. My wife, Andrea (7 years married) and I have 3 children, two boys and a girl (Krayton-6, Finley-4, Paisley-2). I am a former D1 and D2 college basketball player and have been around the game of basketball my entire life being that my father, Brad Soderberg (current assistant at the University of Virginia), has been a college basketball coach my entire life. I was born and raised a cradle Catholic. But, like most Catholics, I didn’t begin to invest in my faith life until much later in my life. About 6 years ago I began to become serious about my faith and started to investigate the Catholic Church and her teachings in great detail. As I did so, I found myself falling more in love with Jesus and His Church than I ever thought possible.
Q: Pease tell us a bit about the journey and task of writing your book, Fill Your Cup for Christ–the inspiration, audience, goal, process, etc.
Kramer: My journey of writing my book was a bit of a confusing one at the beginning of the process. When I discerned the Lord asking me to do this, I thought the idea to be a bit comical and far fetched. I am by no means a great writer, an english major, or an eloquent novelist–I am a basketball coach. So, I originally had no idea how I was going to accomplish what I felt like the Lord was calling me to do. However, I pressed on in faith and began to write. I wrote a majority of this book on long bus rides to and from games during the basketball season. The words came out smoothly and without much hesitation–I completed the original manuscript in about four months.
When I began writing this book I originally thought that my target audience would be young athletes, however the more I wrote the book I began to realize that the message of this book is for all Catholics looking to enhance their spiritual life, and especially those who are just getting started in their journey or need to rekindle the fire and desire to pursue the Lord. The goal of this book is to inspire all to realize that God is not okay with us being mediocre and lukewarm in our faith lives. God is calling us to greatness, spiritual greatness… God is calling us to become Saints through whatever vocation He has given us.
Q: You explain that “filling your cup for Christ” can look different for each individual person as we all have unique gifts and are called in different ways by God. How can a discovery of our gifts and talents help us in building the kingdom of God and allow our cup to overflow with the grace of Christ?
Kramer: The message behind “Fill Your Cup For Christ” is that no matter how big or small your cup is (i.e no matter how much talent, ability, potential, influence, etc.) you have been put in a position by God to glorify Him through your everyday lives, using the platforms and gifts you have been given, for His sake and the sake of His kingdom. The world teaches us that unless you make a lot of money, or have a lot of power you are not a success. This is not true, this is not what Christ or His Church teaches. Success is not winning and losing in the world’s eye. Success is becoming all that God made you to be and glorifying Him in all that you do. The image of “Filling our Cups” is just that, doing the very best you can do to be the best you can be, “For Christ” and His kingdom.
Q: Professional athletes and Olympians endure and persevere through many years of physical training to excel at a high level. As a former high performing collegiate athlete, how have you applied the lessons gained as an athlete to your spiritual life? What practical tips can you share to become a spiritual Olympian, as you phrase it in your book?
Kramer: Connecting the spiritual life to my athletic life was a big step for me in better understanding the Catholic Church. As an athlete it is easy for me to understand that becoming the best basketball player, winning a championship, or becoming a gold medalist is going to be extremely hard! It is going to require sacrifice, challenges, difficulties, etc. Most lukewarm Catholics, including myself years ago, complain about the Catholic Church being too hard. On the other hand, most people have no problem understanding that to become a great athlete is going to be really hard–so why would we think that becoming great in our spiritual life would be easy? When I connected my faith and my sport on that level, the Catholic Church made sense to me. Of course this is going to be hard, the Church is pushing me to become a Saint… it wouldn’t make sense if achieving holiness was easy. The best practical tip I can give for becoming a spiritual olympian is the same advice my dad gave me as a player: Do three things everyday– show up, show up on time, and do the best you can.
Q: You write that “God doesn’t just want a piece of your day or a piece of your life. He wants all of you and every part of your life. God doesn’t want to be your first priority, he wants to be the center of all your priorities.” How do you nourish your life of faith and prayer to incorporate God into your everyday life?
Kramer: What I have learned, which all great spiritual masters have known for centuries, is that constant awareness of Christ leads to constant peace, contentment, and true Christian living. For us to make God not just our first priority but incorporate him into every aspect of our lives, we must first learn to be aware of His presence at all times. When we learn to train our mind to be constantly conscious of Christ with us, we are able to fulfill that which Saint Paul preached in 1 Thessalonians 5:16, “pray without ceasing.”
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us? Where can our readers learn more about you and purchase your book?
Kramer: You can learn more about me, about my book, and about my ministry at my website: www.kramersoderberg.com or on Instagram: @acatholiccoach. You can order a copy of “Fill Your Cup for Christ: A Spiritual Journey Sown & Grown through Sports” on my website or on Amazon. I encourage anyone who reads my book to rate and review it on Amazon and Goodreads, to reach out to me personally with your thoughts, and to share my book with others who you believe could be positively affected by it. I am always open and available to be a guest speaker at any Catholic event and love using my talent as a communicator and a motivator to help others grow closer to Jesus.