What is it like as an athlete living in the spotlight? What’s it like for a Christian athlete? I had the chance to speak to someone who has counseled many athletes, Dr. John Tolson. He’s out with a terrific book, Take the Knee which contains lessons he shared in the Dallas Cowboys locker room. Whether you are a sports fan (like me) or not (in which case you should repent), you’ll enjoy this interview I think. Here’s a snippet:
We’ve seen, in the last few years, the rising popularity of Christian athletes such as Tim Tebow, Tony Dungy, Ben Zobrist, and a few others. Some are criticized for making their faith too public and others for making it too private. How do you counsel Christian athletes?Learning to be a servant leader in the most basic things is critical for the Christian athlete because as their teammates who aren’t Christians watch them it can have a powerful impact.
There’s a balance that’s necessary, and wisdom is needed in knowing how to share your faith and show it. If a non-Christian sees a guy pointing to the sky after he scores a touchdown, a lot of times he has no idea what in the world that means. Again, I think it takes a great deal of wisdom to know how to portray your faith especially in that arena. Actually I think that there are more productive ways that a Christian athlete can make a difference for Christ. Number 1: Make sure that you are living your faith consistently in your private life as well as your public life. Number 2: Be a servant, even in the locker room. I’ve seen guys in the locker rooms of various teams and they’ll throw stuff all over, they don’t pick up after themselves but leave it to the paid personnel, etc.
Learning to be a servant leader in the most basic things is critical for the Christian athlete because as their teammates who aren’t Christians watch them it can have a powerful impact. How they talk needs to be consistent with their faith; sometimes the language they use on the field and in the locker room is different than what they use in the public arena. Reaching out to teammates who are hurting and beginning to walk with them, encourage them, and hopefully eventually lead them to Christ. And then I think being available at any given moment to be used of the Lord in someone’s life.
Read the entire interview here: