Not only is our competitive season going well so far, we’ve been seeing more and more guys come to Bible study this year. I always pray before I head on the field each day, committing my work to the Lord, but more recently we’ve also been gathering as a group after we practice to kneel down in prayer. It’s important for us to walk with God daily, not just on Sundays or chapel days. We are to live our lives knowing God is fully in control of every moment; we are called to die daily to ourselves in order to live for Him.
With strong spiritual leaders on our team this year, this mindset has been spreading throughout the locker room as more guys join our circle. I’m excited to be able to impact some of the younger players, not just in football, but in all areas of their lives. Sometimes as practice is wrapping up and we’re gathering for prayer, we’ll call out specific guys on the team, inviting them to pray with us. Most of the time they’ll be surprised at first, but then respond, “I’ll never turn down prayer,” as they hop into our circle.
In addition to our team Bible study, we’ve incorporated a couples’ Bible study that meets every other week at our house. It’s been so encouraging to see how many couples are faithfully coming to seek out how to grow their marriage in a God-honoring way. We even had one guy come without his wife one week. She couldn’t make it but he made sure to take notes so they could study at home together afterward.
In our couples’ study, we’ve been focusing on the topics of priorities and pursuit. In order to make sure your priorities are in proper order in every area of life, you need to make God first. Then comes your spouse and your marriage. If you put something — whether that be your spouse, your career or anything else — above God, your life will begin to unravel.
During football season this can be hard for us. It takes a major sacrifice of our time to do what we do during the season, but we also have to realize that football never comes first. God always comes first, then your marriage, then your family, and then football. Once you get your priorities straight, everything else will fall into line. Your heart changes and you’ll find that God will provide you with the peace, wisdom and discernment you need for every aspect of your life.
The pursuit is also extremely important in marriage. Just because you married her doesn’t mean you’re done pursuing her. Don’t stop holding the door for your wife, taking her on dates, and doing all the things you first did when you were trying to win her heart. As you continue to pursue your wife, your marriage will be blessed. She appreciates all those things you do for her, and in return, you appreciate all the things she does for you — taking care of the kids, making meals for everyone, and doing all she does while you’re away at games and practice.
Last week we went over the “5 Love Languages” book. By knowing your mate and what blesses them, you can better serve and love them. Is it acts of service that encourages them the most? Physical touch? Words of affirmation? Receiving gifts? Quality time? For instance, I know words of affirmation and acts of service are on the top of the list for Danielle, so that’s why I make sure I tell her every day just how much I love her and how beautiful she is.
Even though she knows this already, I try to pour out all the words of affirmation on her that I can to build her up. That’s what you do as a spouse — you build up the other person because they’re your helpmate. They deserve it. Anyone can say, “I love you,” but you have to show it with your actions, your words and your pursuit of the other person. How you do this is a reflection of your love for them.
Your pursuit of God has to come first. He will then give you the direction and discernment to pursue your spouse, your family and your career. Seek Him first and all else will fall into place.
“Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” — Matthew 6:33
— Matt Forte
Matt Forte is a running back with the New York Jets and a regular contributor of The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.
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