An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Now that I have more time on my hands — time not filled with workouts and schedules made for me — I am investing more time filling myself up with positive, Christ-centered things. I can’t just sit there and let idle, negative or non-productive things captivate my mind.
One thing that has been really great for me is teaching my daughter Bible verses. In doing so, they are becoming more cemented in my own heart and mind. Another thing I’m focusing more time and energy into is my What’s Your Forte Foundation, where I’m able to influence and impact the youth in Chicago. Now that I’m not rushing back into another NFL season, I have more time to not only speak and play sports with these kids, but to mentor and build into them as well. I look forward to taking these teenagers on field trips to discover what it’s like to have different careers, how to prepare and search for colleges, and more opportunities to better themselves. I also want to connect more with the Chicago police community so that we can create a common ground between these two groups.
Lately, I’ve been reading through the book of Proverbs in the Bible. This book is filled with wisdom and knowledge, which has been very helpful for me to gain a clear train of thought, especially when I have decisions to make. By going directly to God’s counsel through His Word, I’m not relying on anyone else’s advice or opinions — which is so easy for us all to naturally do — but I’m leaning on the wisdom of my Heavenly Father.
I also have been spending a lot of time reading more about different characters in the Bible, especially men who were following God with their whole hearts. By studying the lives of men such as Noah, Joseph and all the way to Daniel, I can gain a better understanding of how — despite how different things were back in that day — they were so obedient to God. When the Lord asked them to do something, they didn’t argue or struggle with God.
When God told Noah to build an ark, when it made no sense and there was no apparent reason to do so, he simply said OK. He was obedient to God and in turn, God did exactly what He said He would. The same can be seen with Moses; he obeyed God in radical ways only to see God’s amazing miracles take place among his people. That’s the kind of radical obedience I want to act on in my own life.
Since I started playing in Chicago, I’ve been going to my father-in-law’s church, the one my wife grew up going to. When I first starting going, I was Matt Forte, the football player. People recognized me from my career. But now, I am Matt, the Christ-follower who plays football. I’d much rather be more Christian than athlete, and this is how my church family has seen me for the past many years. They know I played and they’re aware of all the accomplishments I’ve achieved on the field, but they see me for my character.
My wife and I are both extremely excited to be able to be more involved in the church now that we’re stationed here for good, she serving in the children’s ministry and both of us looking to vamp up our couples’ community and fellowship. Church is not just about what you can get out of it from walking in and out on a Sunday morning. These are people God has placed in your community, whom you can lean on when you’re in need and who can lean on you when they need. This is what the body of Christ is all about.
Being a NFL player has been a huge blessing and opportunity for me. But I’m so glad that I’m now able to sit back and enjoy this time, reflecting on my career. During my 10-year run I had fun, but I was never able to really enjoy it. I could never relax because I had a tireless drive to be the very best I could be. To do that, you can’t get comfortable or complacent.
Now, I can look back and see the fruits of my labor — not just those that were made on the field, but all the relationships, personal growth and Christ-centered impact I experienced. Now my goals are different, but I still aim to honor Christ and grow closer to Him in all I do.
— Matt Forte, former NFL running back
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.