There has been a lot of talk lately about Tim Tebow, the current quarterback for the Denver Broncos and a Heisman trophy winner during his college career at the University of Florida. Most of the hullabaloo has not been about how he plays football, however, it has been about his unashamed expressions of faith. He can be seen kneeling on the sidelines and praying before, during, after games and somehow, this is controversial. On a local radio show leading up to his game with my beloved New England Patriots (who won, by the way) they were talking about Tim Tebow and I heard a caller say “I mean, this is America and you can believe whatever you want, but don’t go pushing it on me!”, and I thought, what? The guy is expressing his faith, how is that ‘pushing it on you?’. As a Catholic Christian, there are several things a day that I am exposed to, and offended by, that secular society is definitely trying to ‘push on me’, however, we live in a country where free expression is supposed to be valued and protected. But more and more it seems if you speak out about your faith in the most minuscule way, or are guided by the word of God, you are expected to sit down and shut your mouth.
The other thing I’ve heard said about Tim Tebow is, “Why is he thanking God? Do these people (Christians) really think God cares who wins a football game?” When people keep saying that he is thanking God for winning a game, this allows them to reduce it down to the argument that God doesn’t care about the outcome of a football game, which allows them to dismiss all prayer. But as someone of faith, I would not guess that Tebow is thanking God for the victory as much as thanking God for the gifts he was given, his health and athletic ability, and his safety as well as that of his teammates. In that sense, if you consider the attention his faith is getting from his expressions on the field, he is acting as any Christian should. He is using the gifts he has received, to glorify and praise the God who gave them to him.
This made me rethink my discernment process. ‘Wait a minute!’ I hear you saying, ‘we know you’re married with two daughters, isn’t it a little bit late to go through discenrnment?’ Well, obviously, I have discerned that most important of vocations already. I knew from an early age that I would someday be a husband and father. I don’t know that I bargained for two beautiful daughters that I would someday need to protect from teenage boys, but that is a different story.
No, I am very happy with my vocation as a husband and father. But as anyone who’s been reading these posts knows, I am not in the right place, or even the right industry, when it comes to my career. I have been prayerfully considering what God’s next step is for me for a while now and coming up empty. A short time ago I had a friend suggest that this truly is another type of discernment process as long as I can accept that I am not too old to do whatever it takes to ‘switch horses mid-stream’ so to speak. That shifted my perspective. Rather than just asking God what my next step should be, I need to be seeking it for myself. I mean, how will He show me the path if I’m not even walking?
So taking a page from Tim Tebow, I see that he is using his gifts to their full potential, and regardless of the outcome, he is glorifying and praising God through those gifts. God may not care who wins a football game, but what of the parable of the servants and the talents (Mt. 25:14-30) or the lamp lit to be put under a bushel basket? As Christians, we are called to take the gifts God has given to us, and through our use of them, glorify Him, praise Him and spread the message of the gospel. You do not have to be an NFL quarterback to do this. And using these gifts may not even have anything to do with how you earn a living. But by focusing on what we can do to serve the Lord, we give Him the chance to put us where He needs us most.
So how will I apply this to my discernment process? The first step would be to make an inventory of the gifts that God has given to me and get a clear picture of how they might work together with my primary vocation as a husband and father. Then I need to figure out how I can best apply those gifts to glorify the Creator, and spread the good news of the gospel? Wow, that makes it sound pretty simple, doesn’t it? But it's not. Particularly for a guy who has taken such joy in beating himself up for a long time. It’s a pastime that is making a comeback for me, so this exercise is probably exactly what I need. To take an honest inventory of my talents would force me to see how I AM useful and perhaps the thought that I am seeking to glorify God would light a fire in my spirit and renew vigor for whatever I am called to pursue.