Four things building a football dynasty can teach us about leaving a legacy

Derek Hamby

“Control the input, not the output.”

That sentence has been the wallpaper on Clemson University linebacker Ben Boulware’s phone. This mindset of controlling the input is not new to Ben. It is something that has always inspired others around him.

I have vivid memories of seeing high school athletes make time on an 110-meter run or do one more rep on the bench press with Ben’s encouragement. Players wanted to perform better because they were on the same field as he was.

In my eyes, a great player will always elevate those around them. And as Christians, we can call others to the best versions of themselves (Ephesians 4:1-16). Whether we’re playing football or following Jesus, we can all strive to leave a legacy that elevates those around us.

Four things building a football dynasty can teach us about leaving a legacy

1. It takes time.

Every team has the goal of hoisting the Lombardi trophy as confetti falls around them. It is a moment fans long to celebrate with their team. But many fans wonder: Will this moment ever come? They track the NFL draft, praying their team’s general manager will make the right picks. Winning teams require pieces that are not built overnight.

When you watch and see the winner of the Super Bowl celebrating, remember, their journey to the top was not without sacrifices.

Every team will have a player that has overcome an injury or possible arrest that left a scar along the way. As the player is smiling in the moment, the smile is an affirmation that the process was worth it.

2 Timothy 2:3-6 says, “Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.”

Our legacy as a Christian will be a process. In the process, we will experience setbacks and joys. On a daily basis, we are building our legacy. There will be days where it is harder to continue to invite your friend or family member to church. Inevitably, we will feel like we are playing from behind.

2. Small things matter.

Sundays are televised for the world to see. The good and bad of every NFL team on display, but how did they get there? The hours of film and practice to prepare. I love watching wide receivers get out on the field early, practicing catching the football with their body contorted in a variety of ways. They are preparing for a moment that may never come.

As we read and memorize Scripture, we don’t always know what we are being prepared to handle. We are strengthening our hearts, minds, and bodies to be ready for any challenge.

3. Character counts.

1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

If football talent was all you needed, Maurice Clarett and Lawrence Phillips would have had long illustrious NFL careers. But their talent could not overcome poor choices. They are not remembered for their talent. Instead, a Google search of their names pops up arrest reports and Lawrence Phillips’ tragic suicide.

As Christians, we can love Jesus and have a great personal relationship with Him, but our legacy will be determined by how we love others. As we train in Christianity, we train to love others and bring hope into the difficult situations.

By loving others, we give ourselves the opportunity to share the Gospel.

4. Serving others is greater than serving yourself.

Every year, the Super Bowl names a Most Valuable Player (MVP), and never has an offensive lineman won the award. Only eight defensive players have been named MVP. When you watch the celebrations, there is no selfishness from these groups. They believe in the service they provide for the team.

Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship.”

Not every act will get acknowledged. We might buy a meal and the person might not say thank you, but it doesn’t matter. Our joy is driven by serving a perfect Savior. We do not need praise from the world around us to leave a legacy that points people to Jesus.

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