Christians in the NFL – Lessons learned from Drew Brees – Quarterback – New Orleans Saints

This is the 17th installment in my blog series on Christians in the NFL.  Today, we will look at Drew Brees, the quarterback for my favorite team, the New Orleans Saints.

I will admit that I am biased.  He is the quarterback for my favorite team, and led them to a Super Bowl championship 2 years ago.  He has become one of the most prolific passers in the history of the game and, well, let’s just say that he is a pretty likable guy.  Those were my thoughts about him before I read his book Coming Back Stronger.  

The book, which came out following the Super Bowl winning season, was a very good read.  As a Saints fan, it allowed me to relive some wonderful moments since the return to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, through the championship and the parade.  I have been a Saints fan for 25 years, but they and the whole city of New Orleans holds a special place in my heart now, as my wife and I spent 3 summers there with a mission’s organization, doing flood recovery work.  We have great memories of seeing God’s hands and feet hard at work rebuilding and restoring the city and surrounding areas.  To read about the progress being made in the city still to this day warms our hearts.  There will always be a certain element of “home” there for us.

So it was with great interest that I took in this book about a man who God brought to the Big Easy to  be a part of the rebuilding both of the team and the city.  

And his story is one of recovery as well.  Brees sustained a serious injury to his throwing shoulder during the 2005 season as a member of the San Diego Chargers.  With his replacement already on the roster, he found himself without a place to play in San Diego, and only 2 suitors from the rest of the league.  He landed in New Orleans, and the rest, as they say, is history.

One thing that I can say about his book is that Brees never shies away from the opportunity to speak openly and overtly about his faith in God.  Be it in the context of recovery from the injury, dealing with the death of his mother, or working through the challenges of a marriage, he talks about the importance God plays in his life and how seeing God carry him through adversity has helped develop him into who he is today as a community leader, team leader, father, husband and Christian.
Faith grows through adversity, because adversity has a way of removing our dependency on ourselves and refocusing on our need for God.  It is a wonderful book, and I recommend it to anyone who can use some encouragement.

The book was a great read – I think even non-Saints fans would like it, and he does give lots and lots of reasons to cheer for him, even if you don’t want to join me as part of the WhoDat nation.

Here are some things that I read in the book and the thoughts I take from them,

1- He asked his teammates to define faith, and came up with a definition of his own, in acronym form.  Here it is.

To show faith in other people takes:
F- Fortitude – it requires courage and toughness
A- Attitude – positivity, confidence in self and in team
I- Integrity –  do what you say you will do, being accountable and keeping others accountable
T- Trust – the cornerstone of every meaningful relationship,
H- Humility.  President Truman is quoted as saying “Its amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t care who gets the credit”

Being a part of a team requires all of these things working in harmony.  Being faithful to the team, doing your part and sticking with the game plan.

There are lessons in this for us as well in our walk with God.  Following God requires courage, a positive attitude, accountability and integrity, trusting and earning trust and a boatload of humility.  If we are practicing these things every day, and putting God first, then we will truly grow in our faith. And as for President Truman’s quote…It is amazing what can be accomplished if you give all the credit to God!

2- Leadership – can’t ask anyone to do what they are not willing to do themselves, always willing to learn.  Coach and be coached.

Jesus showed this example in coming to earth and facing all the things that we face.  He didn’t give us a list of dos and don’ts, wish us luck, and let us figure it out on our own.  Jesus taught us how to live, lived it for us, served others, loved unlovable people, forgave people who hurt him, reached out to the poor and forgotten and then told us to go and do likewise.

3- Disappointment  – He shared the quote :”Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want”  It is a true statement.  Life is hard and will never go smoothly for any one in any walk of life.  There will be plenty of opportunity to gain experience and learn how to deal with and work through set backs, disappointment and failure.  Who we turn to for help, how we go about it and what we learn on the other side are the thing that we need to figure out.  God in the only source that will never let us down.  Our part is to make sure we are obedient and depending on Him for everything.

Drew and Brittany Brees

4- Marriage – As marriage is the most important relationship outside of our relationship with God,  it is therefore the one that will come under the greatest attack.  I remember the pastor who did the preBrees wrote about some of the struggles that marriage brings, and said that he and his wife had made the same commitment.  Marriage is important enough to fight for and fight hard.  There are some instances when a marriage will dissolve, but in as much as is possible, it is important to fight for the marriage and not give up.  Brees wrote that today, society tends to live as if our vows say “I promise to stay with you as long as we both shall love instead if as long as we both shall live

That is not fighting for the marriage, that is looking for an escape hatch.  Marriage involves sacrifice and unconditional love – loving even when you don’t like the person much at the moment.  I am a big fan of marriage and am blessed to have an amazing wife that loves me even though I am not perfect, and I love her even though she is not perfect.  It can be hard, it will have hard times, and it will also be the best human relationship that you will have.  It is truly a reflection of God’s love for us, and I have learned a lot about God’s love and character from my marriage.  I concur with Brees on this – Marriage can be hard, but it is worth the fight for what it will teach you about God and for the things it adds to life.

Follow up to Soul Surfer

I last posted about the new movie Soul Surfer that is opening next week.   Well,  I was going to let that post stand alone, but something else was brought to my attention and so I will pass it along to you.
Last night, I was talking to a friend that had read my post, and she told me of another movie about Christian Surfers – and there are a LOT of them.  She loaned me the movie and my wife and I watched it last night.  It is a very cool story about a pro surfer pouring into the lives of 2 young up-and-coming surfers.  He takes them with him on a trip (or series of trips) to some of the best surfing spots on the globe.  The movie is called Walking on Water  check out the website and story here.  It was quite good.
 It appealed to me on 2 levels.
First of all, it gives several of the top surfers in the world a chance to share how important Jesus is to their lives and the hope that He gives them, even in the face of the hardships of life.  And second, it appeals to me and my desire to travel all around and see the beautiful places and experience the amazing and different cultures that exist in God’s wonderful creation.
It also taught me about a very cool missions organization.  Christian Surfers International.  Find their web site here.  They are an organization that considers surfers largely as an unreached people group.  They have set up an organization that will show God’s love to all areas of the surfing world.  They want to empower Christian surfers to reach out to their local surfing community.  Check out their website if you are interested.  It is a pretty specific niche for outreach, and they are doing some pretty cool things as they bring Jesus into the surfing world with them.
 Thanks Amanda for finding this movie and bringing it to my attention.
So how about you?  What other cool mission niches have you come across?  How is God calling you to use your passions, gifts and talents to bring Him into your world to impact the lives of others?