Over the years, I’ve spoken at a number of NFL chapels with the great benefit of having Nanci, my football-loving wife, sometimes attending the chapel, and always coming with me to the games. In recent years, God has given me the opportunity to give input to and mentor a number of professional athletes, especially football players.
There are many Christ-followers in the NFL, more than most people realize. For several years, through the ministry of Pro Athletes Outreach (PAO), an organization I’ve come to love, I’ve been able to speak to and meet hundreds of them, and develop personal relationships with several dozen. I often send verses to various guys and responses to Bible questions, as well as co-lead a private online forum with 27 current and former players (who I won’t name to protect their privacy).
My heart is to encourage these young men to love and serve Jesus passionately, and to use the platform He’s given them well. I love investing in them, and seeing up close how PAO is having an impact on their lives. (Nanci has met a number of player’s wives and has recently been asked to give input on the writing of Bible studies, and she enjoys that too.)
When speaking at a Major League Baseball conference several months ago, I recorded a podcast with Sports Spectrum. Host Jason Romano (formerly with ESPN) and I talked about ministering to professional athletes, the struggles that fame and fortune can bring, the challenges of athletes adjusting to retirement, and why it’s important to find our identity in Christ and not our professions. While few of us are pro athletes, many of the principles still apply.
After you do, take the time to explore more resources on Sports Spectrum, a national publication that has been featuring Christian athletes for 15 years, and has recently become part of Professional Athletes Outreach. I love the resources available on Sports Spectrum!
In a time where people seem increasingly skeptical of young people in general and athletes in particular, I’d encourage you to better understand and appreciate the many who are genuine followers of Jesus. Since your kids and grandkids, especially your boys, are likely to admire and listen to famous athletes, why not introduce them to those who know Jesus, giving them good role models instead of bad ones?
Finally, if you’re a sports fan, or just want to see God at work in people’s lives, check out this article by Eagles player Chris Maragos, a brother I love, followed by several links to quality faith videos featuring pro athletes.