“One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent!” – Acts 18:9 NLT
“He should just go play basketball.”
“Why doesn’t he just talk about that in the locker room or at home?”
“They should stick to sports and stay out of real world issues.”
How many times have athletes been shut down for speaking out? From politics and gun control to civil rights and even their faith, if an athlete speaks out it is often met with public dismay. What if this attitude had won out in the past? Imagine if only certain individuals could speak their mind about significant challenges. Mohammed Ali wouldn’t speak out on civil rights because he’s just a boxer. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been told to stick to his sermons and out of Montgomery. Nelson Mandela should stay out of fighting for justice against the South African apartheid and just focus on his law practice. Where would we be today if the naysayers had won out?
Recently, Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers spoke out on the issue of mental health. In a personal testimony called “Everyone is Going Through Something”, Love fought his tendency to hide his personal battles and shared his story. On November 5th during a game against the Atlanta Hawks he had a panic attack. This led to him lying on the locker room floor with an uncontrollably fast heartbeat and ultimately to the Cleveland Clinic. It was this episode, along with several days of deep thought on why he felt it was necessary to hide this issue that led him to find help in working with a therapist.
In today’s verse we find Paul frustrated with the people of Corinth. He’s about ready to throw in the towel and leave to find a more receptive audience anywhere else but there. He was “opposed and insulted” for speaking out on his faith in Jesus Christ as the one true Messiah. As he is just about to cave in, the Lord speaks to him in a vision and says “Speak out!” Following God, he does so and in fact stays in Corinth another year and a half speaking the Gospel, regardless of what the naysayers think about it.
Kevin Love, and other players like him (including DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors and Kelly Oubre Jr. of the Washington Wizards) have also taken a public stand by speaking up for those battling mental illness. Others like them have publically spoken out on important domestic and global issues as well. While it’s easy to see them as just athletes, it takes courage for them as individuals to “Speak out!” whenever they see injustice.
Where do you need to “Speak out!” in your own life and community? God has granted each of us a specific platform, when appropriate and used to help those who are less likely to be able to help themselves, use it for their good. Like Paul, we may feel worn down by those who oppose and insult us for speaking out on matters of our faith. Yet remember, as God told Paul in his vision, “Don’t be afraid” and “Don’t be silent”. It takes courage to speak out like Kevin Love did. Just remember that God will be with you through each endeavor so have faith and “Speak out!”
– Brian Catanella, Leadwithlovebooks.com
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