“In the same way, encourage young men to live wisely. And you yourself must be an example to them by doing good works of every kind. Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching.” —Titus 2:6-7 (NLT)
As Christians, we are called, first and foremost, to follow Christ. On top of that, we also have to make sure that we are looking up to other Christ-followers for how we conduct our careers, sports, and homes. I ultimately want to be in a position where I can be an example to others of Christ’s love, pointing them to follow Him.
As Christ-followers, we are given the challenge of being examples of Him, doing all things from a Biblical perspective with character and integrity.
As a professional athlete, I often struggle with the temptation to find my identity in my sport. I’m constantly battling my flesh—telling myself that it’s not about what I’m doing on the field, it’s about who Jesus is. That gives me my worth. I try not to put too much stock in what I’m doing because I know that my value does not come from these things.
This internal battle isn’t just something I faced just in my first few years in the NFL, it’s still a daily push. There are so many things competing for our attention; there are so many things that are vying for the role of giving us value, satisfaction, or identity. Every day you have to suppress those things and remind yourself that they’re false—they don’t last or satisfy. These things do not make us who we are. But this battle is a daily one that I’m constantly praying over and working through within the fellowship of other believers.
Jumping from college to the NFL, I entered a completely different world. Suddenly I needed to balance so many different things in my life; trying to find the right way to prioritize everything was very perplexing. There were so many moving parts in such a big transition that I quickly learned I had to lean on God and His strength instead of my own. I also realized that it was crucial for me to follow the example of those who had been through this before. I’m really grateful to have had guys who helped carry me through early on in my career. Now, I’m able to be that example to others who are just entering the League. There are a lot of younger guys who God is going to use in this League longer than I’ll be playing, so I have the opportunity to really pour into them—to train and disciple them so that they can be the next wave of influencers for Christ here.
One of these influential men for me was Rocky Seto, the passing-game coordinator for the Seahawks during my time with them. Recently he just gave up his more recent role of assistant head coach for defense to go into full-time ministry. A national champion at USC, Super Bowl champion in Seattle, and now at the height of his career as a coach, he left football to do what God was calling him to next—be a pastor.
The thing about Rocky is that he loves football—he’s always been so passionate about it—but he loves Jesus so much more. It was always so cool to see where his heart was. Rocky is passionate about a lot of things, but his biggest passion is to bring honor to Jesus.
Like Rocky, I have the opportunity to enjoy what God’s given me and enjoy the fruit of my labor as I work hard in the game I love. I know that football isn’t everything, but it’s a huge part of who I am—who God designed me to be. I find so much pleasure being on that field, and I really feel like that’s what God’s called me to do. This is how He’s gifted me and I want to bring honor to Him through it.
Chris Maragos is a safety and special teams ace with the Philadelphia Eagles. He is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.
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