Time for another Throwback Thursday post. This time our journey takes us to the Carolina where we will look into the story of former Panthers Safety Mike Minter. He was drafted by the Panthers in the second round of the 1997 draft. He played in 148 games with the Panthers, starting all but 7 of them. At his retirement, he was the leading tackler in Panthers history. He also led the franchise in defensive touchdowns with 4. He played with the Panthers in Super Bowl 38. A chance to play for the top prize in football. And to think that just 2 seasons earlier, finished 1-15. They won their opener that season then lost the next 15. Minter suffered through that adversity with the rest of the 2001 Panthers. Adversity was not new to Minter. As you can read in this story from CBN, Minter had a rough childhood after the death of his father when Minter was a young boy. Raised with his 3 siblings by his single mom, Minter grew up in poverty. He took up football and it became the most important thing in his life. But when he was in High School, he suffered an injury that took football away from him for a period of time. From the CBN article “As he laid on his back that night injured on the football field, Mike asked himself, “Is this what life is all about? What can you put your trust in that can’t be taken away?” After that, Mike went on a quest to find out the meaning of life. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes had a strong presence on their school campus, and Mike started attending Bible study.Mike tried to make a deal with God, “I’ll go to the Bible study if you heal me and put me back on the football field,” he said. Mike says today that even though he went into the Bible study with the wrong motives, God still used that time to plant seeds in his heart.”
Check out this video of Minter sharing about his faith.
This is just one in a series of videos that Minter did for Pro Football Camp, an organization that puts on camps in Colorado Springs each year open for all that provides drills and skill development for players with Christian values and ethics.
As you can read in this article, Minter is involved in a lot of things off the field. He preaches in churches, he is a spokesperson for a variety of charities, he serves in many charities, too. He has gone on mission trips, developed real estate properties, co-ownership of a salon and more.
Minter knew at the end of his playing career that he would be busy in retirement giving back to the community and sharing his faith. From the CBN article again: “Mike Minter said before he retired from football that he wanted to go into ministry and to work his way from the bottom to being a pastor. Minter said he wants to preach, so he can more fully share his faith in Christ. He also said he wants to coach. He added that he has been given a lot in life, so he wants to give back.”
Here are my takeaways from Minter’s story:
1- Blame and Credit – Minter was a member of the Carolina Panthers team that won their season opener and then lost their next 15 games. In response to that Minter said “You deal with the failure the same way you deal with success,” says Mike. “You can’t let yourself get too low.” I have noticed the same is true in the rest of life, too. I have been involved in youth and children’s ministry for over 20 years. In that time I have known the joy of seeing people chose to make Jesus Lord of their life. I’ve also known the heartache of kids in my youth group who chose not to follow God’s path for their life. I know that we are called to help others know God and working or volunteering in ministry gives great opportunities to do that. However, as much as I wish I could make the decision for each and every person I talk to about Jesus to follow Him and give make Him the most important part of their lives, I don’t get to do that. It is a personal choice that each of us gets to make. My wife’s parents have served in youth ministry for a number of years and one thing that I have heard them say several times is that we can’t take too much credit for success stories or too much blame for failures. This is an important lesson for me. I will try to keep telling everyone I can about Him and let God do the work in their lives.
2- Balance – Football is a game where balance is important. Balance keeps you on your feet and keeps you moving forward. Balance gives leverage to stand against opposition and win the battle on the line. It is important to have good balance if you are going to succeed as a football player. You need to understand your center of gravity and how to keep from stretching yourself too far. Stretching too far leads to you being taken down. The same is true in our Christian life. Minter talks about Jesus being like our center of gravity. Staying close to Him keeps us balanced. When we stray too far from Him, it becomes much easier to knock us down and stop our progress. But God is always close to us. We don’t need to go searching for Him. He is with us and the Bible tells us that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. Is your life feeling out of balance? Draw close to Him, Center your life on Him and let Him help you stay on path toward the goal!