Once high school hit, I started becoming pretty decent at football. I can remember that being the turning point for me.
As I watched the NFL throughout high school and college, I remember seeing players who were all about themselves, with the “Look at me and what I can do!” mindset, and I was so turned off by that. Ever since, I’ve wanted to be different. I’ve chosen to be more of a quiet, reserved type of guy.
What most people don’t know about me is that I’m extremely confident in my ability to play football. But I never want to talk about it or share that vocally with others. When my teammates find out how confident I am, I think they are often shocked. I’m glad. That’s the way I want to live my life — humbly but confident. There’s a way to be strong in your God-given abilities without constantly lifting yourself up, and I think that’s a lot sexier than being boastful.
As a team, we are going through the book of John right now. In this book, we see Jesus feed the 5,000 through a miraculous event. Immediately after, he retreats for a period of time. He didn’t stay to bask in the glory or watch people talk about how amazing that “performance” was. He went away to spend time with His Heavenly Father.
In the NFL, we don’t have to talk ourselves up. There are plenty of other people who are talking about what we’re accomplishing. I’m thankful that my wife and Christian teammates are there to keep me grounded, holding me accountable for any times when I might begin to talk myself up more than I should. When they do approach me about this, I want to take what they say and really reevaluate my own heart and actions. After praying about it, if I see that I was wrong, I make sure to make the necessary adjustments and apologize when appropriate. My aim is to have a meek and humble spirit — one that’s teachable at all times.
One of my new teammates has had a rough couple years of being blasted by the media. The other day I saw something in his actions that didn’t align with his character. Out of love for him, I approached him and said, “I saw how you handled the media coming at you, I know that’s not who you are. You’re better than this.” Knowing that my concern was for him, he heard me and agreed. I let him know that we’re there for him, aiming to give him the confidence he needed at that time.
One man I see who does a great job of having a humble confidence is Carson Wentz. Carson was up for the player of the year his rookie year and has plenty he could boast about, but he doesn’t. He and a lot of the greats deflect the praise off themselves, and instead lift up their teammates, encouraging their offensive linemen, receivers, coaches and the rest of their team. These people all play factors in their success, but they also have a greatness that’s God-given. I love that they don’t place the focus on themselves; they’re bigger than that. In the same way, I want to deflect the glory off myself.
With humble confidence, I want to lift up those around me while putting my best foot forward at all times. When I do this, I know that at the end of the day I’m being the man Christ has made me to be, taking on the servant mindset He had.
— Trey Burton, Chicago Bears tight end
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.