A Positive Lesson From a Professional Athlete


Too often the stories reported by the news media about professional athletes are negative.   Here’s one that’s different, refreshing and positive.

Tony Romo has been the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys for the past 10 years. He’s enjoyed a spectacular career, breaking many Cowboys’ records in the process.

In August Romo was injured in a preseason game and the Cowboys had to begin the season with an unproven rookie, Dak Prescott, who was drafted by Dallas in the fourth round. After losing his first game 20-19, Prescott has lead the Cowboys to 9 straight victories. His stellar play has not only quieted the talk around Dallas about Romo returning to the starting position, but forced the Owner, Jerry Jones and the Coach, Jason Garrett, to announce that Dak Prescott was now the starting Quarterback and  Romo, who was healthy and cleared to play, would be the backup.

So, following this announcement Romo called a press conference to give a prepared statement. He said that he didn’t want this situation to be a distraction to Dak or his teammates. His less than 5 minute speech is worth reading. It was honest, sincere, transparent and void of ego. Although admitting it was tough being on the sidelines and losing your starting role he complimented Prescott and said, “He’s earned the right to be our quarterback. As hard as that is for me to say, he’s earned that right. He’s guided our team to an 8-1 record (now 9-1), and that’s hard to do.”

Furthermore, Romo let the fans know, “I think Dak knows that I have his back. And I think I know that he has mine. Ultimately, it’s about the team. It’s what we’ve preached our entire lives.”

Regarding Romo’s speech, Dallas Morning News Columnist, Leslie Barker wrote, “He showed us what it means to step down with grace. In so doing, he showed us he is more than Tony-Multimillion-Dollar Quarterback Romo. He is Tony Romo the person. Tony Romo the mentor. Tony Romo the teammate.”

Romo’s attitude reminded me of a great passage in Philippians 2:3-4 that instructs us on our spiritual relationships. “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Too often in churches problems surface because ego gets in the way of the Lord’s work. I’ve known of pastors and preachers whose personal pride causes conflicts among themselves and with the congregation. The sin of being “self willed” has been the downfall of many a spiritual leader. Sometimes trouble arises because someone is not recognized, or given a prominent place, or selected to fill an important position.

I’ve seen people become jealous when they are not asked to serve in a leadership role. Anger and envy leads to bitterness. And soon the Body of Christ is divided. Older preachers can become resentful of younger preachers who now take their place on lectureships and hold more meetings. It is sad to see. But sometimes it is so.

What we need to realize is that in the church everyone has a role, a place, a work to perform. And not everyone’s role is a public one. Or even a prominent one. But everyone is important. And valuable to the overall good of the group. Indeed, the body is ”not one member, but many.”

What Tony Romo displayed last week was a spirit of grace, dignity and mutual respect worthy of the emulation of Christ’s disciples. Finally, his closing comments will give you something to seriously consider.

“Lastly, I just want to leave you with something I have learned in this process as well: I feel like we all have two battles or two enemies going on. One with the man across from you. The second is with the man inside of you. I think once you control the one inside of you, the one across from you really doesn’t matter.”

So true.  Sports, life and our spiritual relationship is all about what’s inside of us.  That’s the heart of the matter.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


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