Last night Christopher and I had the privilege of sitting in front row seats listening to the Bronco’s new quarterback, Timmy Tebow. This kid is all of 25, and has a list of accomplishments that would use up my word count to say.
He was speaking for the benefit of Rachael’s school, Faith Christian Academy. It was a lovely dinner, with the usual cup-rattling at the end to help benefit the school’s budget. Timmy was the featured keynote speaker.
He lumbered up to the stage from the front row, and gave a wonderful, aw-shucks speech that he had obviously polished to a fine sheen over many presentations. I find that endearing that such a talented athlete would work so hard over something that doesn’t come naturally.
Timmy, as he calls himself, was the product of missionary parents who were serving in the Philippines when he was born. The last of 5 children, they were schooled by their parents at home, all the way through twelfth grade. During this time, Timmy developed a solid Christian faith, that was fanned by his parent’s numerous trips to prisons, nursing homes, and facilities for the handicapped.
He spoke a great deal about his childhood, and how the decision to play for Florida materialized. It was a great story, mainly about how he simply didn’t have a clue until minutes before he announced it to ESPN.
The body of his talk was the best. He was aiming for the inspirational , and struck the target solidly. Do you want to have a life of significance? Do you want to make a difference somewhere, to someone? If you don’t then stop right here, and turn to the comics. If you do, then listen.
Passion- Do you have a passion for what you do? If you don’t, why not? Something is wrong.
Courage- Do you have the courage to stand up for what is right, even if you stand alone? Funny, as trite as that sounds, it is just great to hear that from a professional athlete who could easily behave as idiotically as he chose.
Can you Finish Strong?- Tebow talked a lot about his coaches. One of his coaches at Florida would not give his players any sets or number of reps to do. All over the gym were signs that said “Finish Strong!”. In other words, do as much as you can do. Finish what you started!
(Chris did that. He was my hero in the “Finish Strong!” department.)
As trite as those high points can be, it is a real pleasure to hear them from the mouth of a young adult like Timmy, for whom all those things really matter.
His speech got me to thinking about a lot of things. First off, how some football players are simply jaw-droppingly gorgeous in street clothes. Eight years of professional athletic training will do that to you.
What about passion? Isn’t the everyday drag of things the great extinguisher of passion? Skydivers are all over that, you know. The skydiving world is rife with stories that run something like this “The corporate devil sucked the life out of me for ten years. I hated it so much I chucked it all and spent the next several years skydiving.” (This is usually followed by a description of the newest job-hunting efforts.)
I have spent the several months thinking about how to continue to help our kids discover what they are made to do. I don’t believe that every day at your job will be a waltz, but I do side with Timmy about loving what you do.
There is a little boy at school, who was the very first client we had in our new infant room, over a year ago. He came to us about 5 months old. Both of his parents are diminutive, so Willie was about as big as a loaf of bread. I try not to have favorites, but Willie is just a ringer for Christopher. Blonde and blue eyed, Willie also develop some unusual talents very quickly. He stood, walked and ran all before he had a birthday.
Shortly after, Willie started talking in full sentences, which is a constant source of hilarity for staff. He’s barely knee height now, and will crane his neck up at a teacher, and in his sucking-to-much-helium voice demand another cracker.
Willie is just rocketing along in his development, and symbolizes why I am passionate about my job. What happens in the birth through 5 years is just too important to ignore.
What about courage? It’s easy to thoughtlessly define this one by the world’s standards. Soldiers are courageous, explorers, adventurers and superior athletes seem courageous. Tebow’s take on this was refreshing. In the end, football doesn’t matter. Even though he would like to win as much as he can, it’s still just a game. What matters is what Jesus said, that you have the courage to love God, enjoy Him, learn to lay down your life for your friends, and serve other people.
I don’t feel particularly courageous, or faithful right now. I have learned that there are some answers you don’t get this side of heaven. I have been grateful for the love I have received from the body of Christ, it’s helped keep my sanity. But I wrestle with my own faith, and the questions that I have about the turn that my life has taken.
Maybe it takes courage to wrestle, and have these questions. I do know that God is big enough to deal with them, and is a much better teacher than I am. I love it when my students put up a good fight with something that is bothering them. Just knocking a problem in the teeth over and over will sometimes make it surrender. I know for a fact that God doesn’t mind a good argument.
What about finishing strong? This one really does take courage. Tebow took questions from students at the end of his presentation, and a little eleven year old guy sat on stage with him for a question. This kid was couldn’t have been five feet tall, and perhaps ninety pounds.
“Mr. Tebow, as someone who aspires to play professional sports during and after high school, what advice would you give people like me for physical and spiritual preparation?” A wave of giggles washed over the audience. Courageous boy, that kid.
Tebow is not a professional speaker, and was completely charmed by this little guy. He sat there silently for a minute with this kid, just grinning at him, smiling from ear to ear.
“Kid, you have to finish strong. It doesn’t matter what your skill set is, you can always improve. You can always get up. You might get hit by the bigger guy ten times in a row, but eventually that guy is going to give up because he doesn’t want to get hit in the face by you again. You can out-spirit and out-heart anybody, just finish what you started.”
“Remember too, that God loves you more than anything, and is in charge of the game.” How refreshing. Self-absorption just wears me out sometimes, and what a treat to see an affluent, professional athlete who is all over helping other people.
With that, Tebow closed the set. Let’s talk more about this later. Tebow moves from the world of professional athletes to the world of children and ordinary people pretty easily. This is fascinating to me, and I think to most people who want to make a difference in the world.