Growing up without a father figure, I was extremely blessed to have a few incredible high school football coaches who acted as such to me. They may not have lived lives devoted to Christ, but they helped keep me out of trouble, showed me they cared about me, and influenced me in some pretty important ways.
Now on the Eagles, I’m unbelievably thankful to have both a head coach (Doug Pederson) and offensive coordinator (Frank Reich) who are not only great leaders, but they love the Lord. These men are spiritual beasts – on fire for God! When they’re not giving instruction and encouragement on the field, they’re attending our chapel services, hanging out with us, or sending us podcasts or Scripture texts they’ve been challenged by.
Being led by solid authority figures is a great gift. It’s easy to follow someone you respect and look up to. It also gives us more freedom to become the best version of ourselves, both physically and spiritually. I know I don’t have to worry about losing my job, pleasing the right people, or disappointing others when I share my faith. For instance, last year we had no hesitation to ask our coach if we could use the team pool for a baptism. He couldn’t have been more excited for us to do so!
Another leader I really look up to is Matt Chandler. I’ll often listen to his sermons or watch his videos on YouTube with my family, my teammates or just on my own. One of the things I really respect about his teaching is his transparency. He doesn’t pretend to be high and mighty, or someone he’s not. He’s real, raw and humble. Recently I listened to a sermon where he spoke about his daily routine. He explained how he tries to intertwine his relationship with God with his relationship with the Church, his family and his neighbors. He said it’s messy and inconsistent. He said one day he’ll be completely off the mark while other days he’s right on target.
This encouraged me because I’ll often explain to my own kids, or other young people I speak to, that though I’m an NFL player, I’m human. I struggle just like everyone else and I’m in no position to be put on a pedestal.
It’s extremely important to remain teachable no matter who you are or where you are in life. I remember one of my coaches telling me, “If you’re not trying to get better, you’ll soon be passed by the younger generation.” I place high importance on listening to and implementing what my coaches say to me. I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t pretend to. The game of football is always changing; being able to adapt to those changes is crucial to surviving in this league.
Humility means knowing we don’t have all the answers. In order for us to maximize our reach and influence in the world, we need to be able to both learn from others and explain ourselves to them. The Bible is full of stories where we see people – great people – make mistakes. Look at Samson, King David, and many others who have fallen. These stories are in God’s Word for a reason – so we may learn from them, as well as be assured of God’s faithful promises. By paying attention to the truths and lessons that wise men and women offer us, we can become the people God’s designed us to be. But first comes humility.
– Trey Burton
Trey Burton is a tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles and a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.
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