Being in an online Bible study with former teammates and current players, while being an ESPN analyst who is often asked to comment on these players, can be interesting. But I make sure to never say anything on television that I would be ashamed of, or that I wouldn’t say in any other place. And the same is true when I’m off television.
I remember in college my grades always seemed to be better in season as opposed to out of season. The reason was that the structure was there, you had no choice but to do the work. The same is true in my spiritual growth. As an NFL quarterback, in season I knew I was going to have an NFL Bible study on a certain day of the week, chapel the day before the game and maybe even a couples’ Bible study on another day of the week.
I missed that structure in the early years of being out of the league, and I had to find my own routine. Moving to a new city, I had to find a local church and get plugged in, which has been one thing that is super important to our family. There are a lot of ways to make excuses for not being able to do that — job, sports, time. But plugging into a local church is really important.
It’s important for my wife and I to grow in our faith so we can pour into our kids and create a multi-generational faith. It didn’t start with me, but those before me. My goal is that it wouldn’t stop with me. Honestly, it’s a lot easier when the kids are younger. Now, with three teenagers in the house and one getting her driver’s license, I really have to trust God with my kids. I know bad things can happen and traveling to missions trips are not always safe, but I trust Him. Yet, do I trust Him when I’m not with them just as much as when I am with them?
Being a parent in a house is very similar to being a quarterback in a locker room. You can say whatever you want to say, you can wear all the FCA T-shirts you want, but your teammates know the real you. It’s really hard to fool your teammates in the locker room. I’ve rarely, if ever, seen it done. In the same way, it would be really hard to fool your kids as to what kind of Christ-follower you really are. You have to live it and not just preach it.
All three of my kids are very different. My wife and I have had to discover what our kids’ love languages are; really understanding that is very important. It’s tough, but it’s the most fun I could imagine having. I love seeing my kids grow up, watching who they are with their friends.
Understand that I screw up all the time. And when I do, I ask myself, “What am I doing?” The other day I had to apologize to the entire house for yelling at my kids. There’s never a time when I should be yelling in this house. Part of that is how I’ve been trained — the norm in football is not the norm in the rest of the world. And part of it is me being imperfect.
We’re all growing and doing the best we can, but I think that’s where plugging into the local church — learning from people who are older and wiser, reading books on parenting and marriage, being totally plugged into the Word, understanding the fruits of the Spirit and what that looks like in your life — is critical.
These are the things we have to cling to. These are what make up our playbook for the life we’re called to lead.
— Matt Hasselbeck, ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback
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.