Faith and Football
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I love the game of football, and this year, because of Dak Prescott, I love it even more. I’m a huge Cowboys fan because my guys were all huge fans. Jim taught me everything he could about the game and ESPN was on our television every day after school. Now I can recognize a holding penalty, pass interference, and intentional grounding as soon as the other team makes those mistakes. (A true fan is rarely objective.)

My boys bought me a Romo jersey years ago and I have put it to good use during the regular season, but not very often in the post season. Christmas is right around the corner, guys . . . I believe Prescott wears the number 4? (A subtle blog hint to my family.) I don’t want to hurt Romo’s feelings because he seems like a great person, but I think we might need a permanent change in our Cowboys’ leadership. I have a bad back too—and Tony and I should both want to avoid that kind of pain. I would hate to see Tony take a hit again that could leave him with permanent damage. He has children to think about now. Maybe it is too soon to put our faith in Dak. He is, after all, a young rookie. But he won the game in Green Bay! (For the non-football readers, that is kind of like David taking down Goliath.)

I watched a video interview he gave ESPN a couple of years ago. Dak lost his mom to cancer when he was still in college. Every time he scores he touches his facemask, and then points to heaven, in her honor. He has the word “Mom” tattooed on his wrist. She was a tough mom and made sure her kids grew up knowing they were loved, cared for, and that they needed to become responsible people. She raised a strong son in Dak, but there is a greater strength available to him as well.

I googled Dak’s name because I was hoping that gesture had something to do with his faith in God. Sports heroes have a great platform to share their faith. Jim wrote an article last week about Tim Tebow. The media is fascinated with the standards that Tim has set for his life, and even more fascinated that he has maintained those standards. I hope Dak Prescott will discover a faith like Tim Tebow’s someday. He seems like a good man . . . I hope he will be a godly man too.

Few of us have the influence of a prominent football quarterback, but all of us have the ability to influence others with our Christian faith. Recently I was speaking about Nehemiah and his prayer that we find in chapter one. Nehemiah prayed that God would help him find favor with a pagan king so that he and others could return to Judah and help rebuild the walls and the temple in Jerusalem. Nehemiah was the cupbearer to that king. Only a man of the highest character could hold that job. The king literally put his life in Nehemiah’s hands, trusting that he could not be bribed or coerced by those that wanted to cause him harm.

God answered Nehemiah’s prayer and he did return to Judah. Nehemiah said, “And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests” (Neh. 2:8). For the Christian, success is experiencing the gracious hand of God on our lives. People like Nehemiah experience God’s favor because of their faith-filled lives. Jesus grew in “wisdom, stature and favor with God and man.” Our growth and success can be measured by those same terms. Nehemiah lived with godly character and found favor, even with a pagan king.

Tony Romo, Dak Prescott, and every other quarterback—including Tim Tebow—spent most of their lives perfecting their skills so they could play football well. They all had innate abilities, but those abilities required discipline and focus. Tim Tebow wasn’t as good at football as Tony Romo or Dak Prescott. Could it be he had a higher focus for his life than success in a sport? If true success is measured by God’s favor, who has actually been the most successful quarterback?

The sports broadcasters will debate which man should be the Cowboys’ quarterback for the rest of the season. I hope it is Dak Prescott. He does look like he has amazing potential. But I hope that one day soon he will touch his facemask, point to heaven and tell the world that God’s gracious hand has brought him success. I hope Tony Romo heals and is able to help the team, and remain well enough to play football with his boys in the days ahead. And I hope Tim Tebow continues to make news so he can share his faith with a world that needs to know his God. Each man can lead a great life that will include stories of their success on the football field. In addition, their lives will be measured by God and he will use different standards than those who evaluate a game or tally stats.

If Nehemiah were a football quarterback today how would he define success? I wonder how many games he would win. Would Nehemiah have been a Dak Prescott, a Tony Romo or a Tim Tebow? It would be interesting to know if God’s gracious hand would impact the game but it is certain that God’s hand would determine success.

I hope all of us feel God’s hand resting on our lives as we surrender our abilities to serve God’s higher Kingdom purpose. I don’t know whether the Cowboys will head to the playoffs or the Super Bowl. I don’t know which quarterback will be leading during those games. I do know this: in the grand scheme, it doesn’t matter nearly as much as what you and I accomplish today by the power of God’s gracious hand.

Join us at and chime in on this week’s discussion question
: In what ways do you make birthdays more meaningful for your kids and those who know them?