In the middle of OTAs and practice with a very new team, we are really gelling well as a group. We have a number of returning players, but we also have some new teammates who are major production guys. These guys are making a huge impact both on and off the field.
Allen Robinson is one of our new players and as an amazing wide receiver, I can tell he’s going to make a huge impact on our team. Trey Burton, a tight end from Philadelphia and a solid Christ-follower, who just became a Super Bowl champion, proved himself last year by scoring five touchdowns as a backup. These men are not only amazing athletes, their leadership both on and off the field is going to be huge for our team and community here in Chicago. And these are just two of the many new recruits were excited to add.
One of the cool things about having a new coach on the team is that even though we have a number of returning players, we all have to adjust to a new system. Everyone on our team is working really hard, which makes it easier to gel and grow as a team because we’re working together toward one goal.
As excited and confident as I am about how we will compete on the field this season — I know we’re going to be working hard and winning games — I think I’m most excited about the impact we as a team have the opportunity to make off the field. There are a lot of guys on this squad who really really care about the community we live in. We want to make a lasting change in Chicago. And that starts with us as a team.
A number of us have been getting together every morning to go over the Word of God. We’re growing in our faith and in our fellowship as a community, and we know we can expand on that growth and passion to serve others. If we want to make an impact, we first need to understand the Word of God and His power within us. These same men we see every morning at Bible study are the ones going out into the community to mentor kids, meet with the police to form plans for a better society, and get to know those we’re living among. There is a lot of gray area in politics and social justice, but I think we’re doing a good job of looking past these differences and meeting the needs of those around us.
In the city we’ve been establishing new partnerships, working together with the Chicago PD to hear its perspective on how we can help make officers’ jobs easier. We’ve also been meeting with middle school-aged kids, sitting down with them to hear about their life issues and how we can come alongside them. Most often we find that we’re not too different from each other. We struggle with the same issues and questions of identity, character, passion, worth and what we want to be someday.
Most of this comes down to the powerful act of fellowship and the simple idea of just showing up. If one of your brothers has something going on, show up. Even if it’s inconvenient, show up. If it’s uncomfortable for you, show up. If it’s going to take a sacrifice on your part, show up. Not only will you get a chance to meet new people and serve others, you get to know and appreciate your teammates better. Too often we underestimate the power of just showing up, but this is one of the greatest things we can do for others; it establishes trust and builds tight bonds within a community. It’s as easy as saying “yes.” Your “yes” speaks volumes and ends up creating more “yeses” to more opportunities, which leads to friendships that last a lifetime.
“Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear — not by Heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’” — James 5:12
A lot of times when we give, we think we’re doing something for someone else. One thing I’ve noticed about mentoring others and sacrificing time for them is that every time I do, I feel way better afterward. People have this concept that when we serve, we are pouring out of ourselves in a draining sort of way, but they don’t recognize we are actually the ones who are rewarded. Not only are we storing up treasures for ourselves in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-20), but we gain so much on earth as well. We gain a sense of joy that is often not talked about or experienced. Instead of saying, “I have to go do this,” we should be saying, “I get to go do this!” When we go, we come back feeling refreshed and energized to do more.
When we’re pressed, shaken up and poured out for others, we’ll be given back more than we could ever imagine. We experience the power and joy of Christ working among us.
“Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” — Luke 6:38
— Sam Acho, Chicago Bears linebacker
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.