Tim Tebow and Christianity: Is it the secret of his success?
Tim Tebow has been an unexpected success as a pro quarterback. Strong faith might be helping Tim Tebow deal with adversity, say some observers – but that could be a two-edged sword.
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Teams of all stripes get fired up by the idea that they’re disrespected underdogs, author Krattenmaker observes. Yet players such as Tebow go one step further. They tap into that dynamic and bring a religious zeal to it when they see their cause as a righteous one that’s sure to draw enemies and naysayers.Skip to next paragraph
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Football is indeed a cause with a higher purpose for Tebow. In his book, "Through My Eyes," he describes his career as one of constantly overcoming critics, including coaches, while trusting in a God who had a plan all along and gave him a stage for bearing witness to the world.
“I’m pressing on toward the upward call of Christ Jesus, seeking to continue living in the way that always brings glory to Him,” Tebow writes. “I hope it’s on the football field, at least for now. But I know that He knows my platform and holds my future in His hands.”
Having a sense of God-given purpose helps athletes stay focused even when criticism becomes a din, says Lynn of Athletes in Action. The logic: Since God has blessed them with exceptional skills, they have a mission to make the most of those blessings on the field, win games and be an inspiration in how they live off the field.
What happens when Tebow loses?
Keen awareness of such a higher calling helps some athletes to be fierce competitors because every win widens the platform for proclaiming God’s glory, says Day, the Boston chaplain. Tebow has almost never lost a football game at any level when he’s been the starting QB.
After an unexpected loss during his junior season at the University of Florida, Tebow embarked on a televised apology and made a promise to fans: “You will never see any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of the season.” The team went on to win the national championship, and "The Promise" was engraved on a plaque now hanging in the Florida football complex.
Equating wins on the field with God’s purposes can, however, be a two-edged sword. After all, Krattenmaker notes, what does it mean if Tebow’s team loses? Does it mean he let God down? Or that God no longer supports the cause? Either way, losing can be hard to take.
“Eventually, Tebow is going to fail,” Krattenmaker says. “I hope that doesn’t become a referendum on his faith. [In sports], we’ve seen again and again a conflation between winning and the validity of the faith, and it often leads to embarrassment.”
But Day sees Tebow benefiting from a doctrine that understands God to be in control of outcomes. When he watches Tebow execute game-winning drives in the fourth quarter, he sees a player whose confidence comes from his relationship with Jesus Christ.
“Those who can relax and get the most out of their skills are the ones who can get to the higher levels of succeeding,” Day says. “That’s my impression with Tim. He enjoys those moments of trying to come back and isn’t feeling as much pressure as some people are. It’s that sense of security that lets him do it.”
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