What has any of this got to do with football?

Today’s entry is a guest post by my son, Kenny.  You are in for a treat…

Tim Tebow. Yes, I’m going to go there. I have been reading about, hearing about and thinking about Tim for quite a while now. I’ve finally decided to write about him for several reasons. For one, my mom keeps asking me to do a “guest entry” on her blog. Also, I welcome an excuse to avoid working on oft infuriating med school secondary applications. Hopefully most importantly, I finally feel like I may have something useful to add to the discussion.

Last year I got a master’s degree in bioethics from Trinity. It was a Christian program. As a Christian in the largely secular bioethics community one must answer the following question: what is the best way to engage a community that does not share your foundational beliefs? Additionally, I hope to become a physician. As a Christian physician, it will be important for me to understand what role my faith ought to play in my profession. I mention these two facts about myself because I think there are some parallel thought processes that can be applied to the Tebow situation (controversy? fiasco?).

For the sake of discussion, let’s consider NFL football players “professionals” in the same way physicians are “professionals.” With that being the case, there are certain behaviors that are the mark of a professional. As a Christian physician (when I finally become one, God-willing), I think most of us can agree that it would be unprofessional for me to actively evangelize to every patient that came to my office. At the same time, I think most of us can once again agree that it is my obligation to act in a Christ-like manner in every aspect of my life. My time seeing patients should be no exception.

In the same way, for a Christian NFL player, there is certainly an obligation that he show his teammates and fans what it means to live a Christian life. Additionally, might one call it unprofessional to answer every single question asked at a press conference with a reference to God, Jesus or praying? Might one consider that active evangelizing?

I found it interesting to hear what Kurt Warner had to say about Tim Tebow. For those who do not know, Warner is a strong Christian. He is also a retired NFL quarterback who has a Superbowl ring. In an article by Arizona Republic columnist Dan Bickley, Warner is quoted as saying, “You can’t help but cheer for a guy like that… But I’d tell him, ‘Put down the boldness in regards to the words, and keep living the way you’re living. Let your teammates do the talking for you. Let them cheer on your testimony.’”

My sentiments exactly, Kurt. All the evidence I can see tells me that Tebow really is the guy he seems to be. And yes, one could respond to Kurt by quoting Paul in Romans 1:16, I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God and the salvation for everyone who believes. But Christ also tells us this in Matthew 10:16: I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Anyone who has heard Tebow talk knows that he certainly appears to have the “innocent as doves” portion of that down, but it might be shrewd of him to heed the wisdom of someone who has been in his position.

Warner also had this to say: “The greatest impact you can have on people is never what you say, but how you live. When you speak and represent the person of Jesus Christ in all actions of your life, people are drawn to that. You set the standard with your actions. The words can come after.” When I read this quote, I couldn’t help but think of 1 Peter 3:15 which reads, Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. So my advice to Tebow is simple. Keep living the way you are living and people will recognize and admire that. Eventually, people will begin to ask you to “give the reason for the hope that you have.” In the meantime, when you are asked about the events of a football game, it may be wise to restrict your answer to things directly pertaining to the game of football.

I can’t help but notice that there are a lot of people talking about Tim Tebow right now, while God only peripherally enters the conversation.

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7 Responses to What has any of this got to do with football?

  1. Margaret says:

    I so enjoyed this. What an honor and blessing to you to see and witness the fruits of your labor of raising your children to love and follow our awesome God. Such Godly wisdom from Kenny.

  2. Kenny says:

    Thank you everyone for the thoughtful comments. Mr. Dinterman, your point is well taken. I am by no means saying that Tebow should stop being the person that he is. This is certainly another one of those issues that will find Christians on both sides of it. I think my main concern is about the effectiveness of his message. I wonder if people immediately tune him out when they start to hear him talk because they know what’s coming. I am also afraid that the discussion becomes too much about Tim Tebow talking about God and not enough about just God (as I proliferate the discussion of Tim Tebow talking about God). I think we can see this in the fact that getting down on one knee in a public display of prayer has been dubbed “Tebowing.” Granted, Tebow did not produce that label directly, but his actions and methods may have. I guess I mostly wish Tebow would pick his spots a little better so that his message can remain relevant for years to come. With that said, I am absolutely willing to admit that my sentiments there may be wrong, and maybe as Christians we should get while the gettin’s good. I just tend to think that a message presented in an ineffective manner can be worse than one not presented at all. All I can say for sure is that if I were in his shoes, I would probably handle things differently, but it’s possible that that is a reflection of a lack of faith on my part rather than a lack of wisdom on Tebow’s part. Sorry, this is a long comment, but I wanted to point out that I totally agree with the “whoever is not against us is for us” idea, which is why I want to express that I am not criticizing Tebow as a person, nor am I attempting to engage in mean-spirited criticism of his methods. I hope I was successful in providing some constructive criticism and if Tim Tebow himself happened to read this, I hope he would take it as that and do with it whatever he pleased.

  3. Rolf says:

    Very well said, and a concise concept for witnessing. With that gene pool … you have no limits. Does anyone else out there now feel truly persecuted as a Christian these days? I do, but welcome the opportunity and priviledge to “fight” this battle, and I am greatly encouraged by Kenny’s wisdom at a relatively young age. Thanks Kenny! Good luck with your apps!

  4. Terry Dinterman says:

    Kenny –
    I, too, read the Kurt Warner article and at first completely agreed with his sentiments. However, as I reflected on this further, and consulted Scripture, I’ve come to a different conclusion. Mark 9:28-41 presents an intriguing dialog between Jesus and John. “Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” Or, to paraphrase in Tebow terms – “Teacher, we saw a football player praising your name and we told him to stop, because he was offending people.” Yes, the action is different and the motive for objection was different – but I find our “Christian” objections to Tebow to be rooted in the same concern. Jesus replies to John – “Do not stop him. No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.” When I read this, I cannot help but think Jesus would be dismayed at the church body looking to squelch Tebow’s spirited praise of God. I am not suggesting we need endorse it, nor emulate it. But let’s allow Tebow to be who God has intended him to be. I appreciate that I now have an opportunity to discuss God and my own faith with some workmates because they initiate a conversation about Tebow when they would never venture into this subject matter otherwise. May we all be faithful to God’s lead and respect that we each have our own calling.
    – Terry

  5. Karen Koval says:

    Wonderful wise perspective from a wonderful wise man….good luck with med apps. Thinking of you and praying that your path is revealed.
    Karen Koval

  6. Kathleen Miller says:

    Yesterday I ran across this post: Tebow’s very being is a challenge to some who consider Christian standards unrealistic.
    http://www.tebowseyeblack.com/2011/11/tebows-unconventional-life.html
    Best wishes to you in this round of med school applications. The school that chooses you will be exercising excellent judgment.

  7. Steven Sarff says:

    You are right Judy….a treat. Good post Kenny.

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