This is the 14th installment in my series on Christ-followers playing in the NFL. This installment takes us to the desert to look into the story of Arizona Cardinals rookie Linebacker, Sam Acho and his brother Emmanuel, who is still at Texas University.
As I look into these stories, I am always excited to learn what God is doing in the lives of these guys. In this story, there is so much to take in, I hardly know where to start. I guess I will start where it makes sense with this blog – with his name. Samuel Onyedikachi Acho.
This blog is called “Living up to my Name” and I write about striving to be like my last name, a “page” – a servant of the King.
Sam Acho strives to live up to his name as well. As you can read in this article from aolnews.com – or in this blog post from Jesus N Sports, Acho’s middle name means “who is like unto God”. He strives daily to be more and more like God. He shares how much he likes the verse Colossians 3.23. “In everything you do, do as if you are doing it for the Lord and not for men.” This is his motto, his goal and his focus as he steps on the football field, but also as he goes about the rest of his life and wherever God allows him to use the sphere of his influence to impact the lives of others:
– He was the 103rd pick in last springs draft, but even this scouting report has a huge section on his faith.
– He serves on the board of directors at the church his dad founded in Dallas.
– He goes on medical mission trips to Nigeria to bring medecine, water and other supplies and God;s love to those in need there.
– He was a leader in the Texas Locker room during his time there, as you can hear in the following video from “I am Second – Austin”. The video is almost 12 minutes long, and there are highlights from the National Championship Game that are heard but not sccn (a copyright thing?) but Sam Acho, and his brother Emanuel have some great things to say and lessons to learn. It talks about the BCS Championship Game between Oklahoma and Texas, and dealing with the issues that surfaced in that game.
So what lessons do i take away from the story of Sam Acho? Here are some thoughts that are now running through my mind.
1- It is so true what he says in this video about true leaders leading by example, and not by reputation. A leader builds people up, and doesn’t tear others down. If we want to be used to lead others to Christ, we cannot do so by tearing them apart. God will break down whatever is standing in the way. We need to love them and let everything we do be a reflection of his love. So often, we think it is our job to convict them of their sinfulness – that’s not it. God may use us to expose something to them, but He will bring it to their attention and he will work in their heart to deal with it. Our job is to show them love.
2- In college, he and his brother began a group called COAH (city on a hill). For them, Division 1 football and now NFL are their “hills” God has placed them there and asked them to shine His light. They cannot hide it, they need to represent Him where He has placed them. They began this group to keep that in clear focus and to help remind them to boldly stand for Christ. What is your “hill”? Where has God placed you so you can be in sight to others, pointing the way to Him? Are you trying to hide yourself from others?
3- The Acho brothers also speak my heart about missions. They take these great trips to Nigeria to do amazing work and impact lives there. What a great way to gain an audience to share Christ with. But like they say, “missions” happens at home in daily life, too. It isn’t something we are called to on one week in the summer as we go with our church group to another town/country. It is something we are called to do every day. Acts 1.8 talks about being Jesus’ witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth. Jerusalem (where the disciples everyday life was happening – they lived there) Judea (the country Jerusalem was in – a little less familiar, but still part of their regular life) Samaria (a place that was hard, full of people they didn’t really like) and the ends of the earth (everywhere else). We are called to all 4 of these places, to go into “all the world” and make disciples of all nations… It all starts at home. What is God calling you to do today, where you are, to be a witness for Him?
4- As they were taking about the National Championship Game, one that they lost, and in which their star QB Colt McCoy was injured and unable to finish, they talk about disappointing people, not living up to the expectations that people had, and not representing the “burnt orange” well enough. We are bound to have challenges in this life, and with that will come failure. Are we representing the one we identify with well, even when things don’t go how we want them to? The Acho brothers were also talking about Colt McCoy using the post game interviews to glorify God. It is important to remember that God cares more about our heart and our willingness to let Him have all the glory then he does about how “successful” we are by the world’s standards. Represent Him and “In everything you do, do as if you are doing it for the Lord and not for men.” As we live out this verse, we will adjust our definition of success and see God glorified through our lives in ways we never could have dreamed up.
I have been very challenged by the story of this rookie linebacker and his brother that still plays for Texas. I hope you have been, too. Let’s take our place as cities on the hill where God has placed us, and lets set ourselves to carry out his plan, so He can draw others to Himself, through His light shining in our lives.