After winning the AFC championship this year, Kansas City Chiefs owner and CEO Clark Hunt said, “I want to thank the Lord for blessing us, the glory belongs to Him.” And after winning the Super Bowl, he again publicly thanked the Lord for blessing him. Hunt had testified, “We want our employees to develop spiritually. In the National Football League, Christ is really glorified. My identity is my faith in Christ.”
Not by chance, there’s a chapel inside Arrowhead Stadium and a chaplain is part of that team. The Chiefs’ quarterback, Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, acknowledged that the weekly Bible study and pre-game services are important to him. Mahomes divulged that he’s trying to glorify God in everything he does.
49er’s running back Raheem Mostert said his faith in God helps him weather the bumps and blows of life. Psalm 23:4-6 is written on his chest.
Clemson’s quarterback Trevor Lawrence and coach Dabo Swinney, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and several others are also publicly glorifying God and sharing their faith. Many LSU and Clemson players knelt to pray together before their collegiate championship game, and now we see professional athletes doing the same.
Sports Illustrated published Emmitt Smith’s 1993-94 personal goals, which were written on the first page of his playbook. His most important objective was to keep Jesus Christ #1 in his life. Being the team and league lead rusher of that year was further down the list. Smith accomplished those goals, but he also won the Super Bowl championship and two MVP awards.
2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medalist, Gabby Douglas, overtly shared her faith’s significance. Joe Gibbs, Nascar championship team owner and twice Hall of Famer (football and racing), has strong faith, which has influenced professional athletes in different sports.
After falling to substance abuse and getting suspended from major league baseball, Josh Hamilton corrected his priorities and put God first. He recovered, returned to baseball, and was voted into the 2008 All-star game. Josh hit a record 28 homers in the first round of the Home Run Derby, and in 2010, he humbly received the American League MVP award.
After winning the 2014 Super Bowl, Seahawk teammates knelt in prayer and acknowledged how life, even in the NFL, is empty without Jesus. Some players emphasized that Jesus is the greatest treasure and is more important than winning the pinnacle game.
Fame and fortune are temporary, but accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior has deep, everlasting effects. These champions’ priorities to honor and glorify God were accomplished through sports. In today’s culture where Christians are hated and maligned, it takes courage to publicize one’s faith. Yet, the testimonies of God’s followers generate interest in unsaved listeners and encourages believers in their faith. It doesn’t matter if you’re a homemaker, entrepreneur, or athlete, anyone can glorify God through his/her effort. And the crown of life is waiting for those who persevere (James 1:12).
Where’s God on your priority list? Do you have that fire to make a difference for the Lord or has your flame been extinguished? What passion or dream (that’s pleasing to God) remains unfulfilled? Take a careful look at your aspirations; is your desire to glorify yourself or God?
Life is a marathon with lots of opposition against believers serving the Lord. Seek His kingdom and righteousness first, and leave the rest to God (Matthew 6:33). “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3). When you wholeheartedly trust and obey the Lord, and acknowledge Him in everything, He’ll encourage you through your difficulties and setbacks, and make your paths straight to reach the goal (Proverbs 3:5-6).
God gifted you with purpose, and that purpose is to love and glorify Him. No matter what your interest is — athletic, musical, mechanical, teaching — if you do your best for the Lord and your neighbor, you glorify God and please Him. Don’t underestimate His love for you or His desire to help you and use you. God equips each person to serve Him; the only ability God desires from you is your availability.