I know that I’ve been called to Cleveland to be a leader. On a team with a roster of pretty young guys, and in a position as a linebacker who has been in the league for five years, I can see that my teammates naturally look up to me. Knowing this, I try to be very careful about my actions and how I carry myself day in and day out. I want to be a good example.
The other day my coach came up to me and said that he really likes the way he sees me leading. He told me, “I was getting goosebumps as I was watching you lead and be such a great example to the team.” I wasn’t sure what I was doing specifically, except for the fact that I make sure I know the playbook, I’m there early, and I’m working hard. Hearing this, though, shows me that living my life as an example has a big impact.
Over the past five years, I can see how much I’ve grown in my walk with Christ as well as how much I’ve learned about how to share my faith in Him. After giving my life to Christ, I was never afraid to share my faith with others but I had a lot to learn about how to share my faith. For the first few years, every conversation that I had I wanted to turn to Christ but I found that this was turning people away instead. Many people who weren’t following Jesus, and had very different lifestyles from mine, were uncomfortable talking about Him; I didn’t realize how judgmental I was coming across.
This past March, at PAO’s Increase Conference, I was able to hear from Trip Lee about the power of living faithfully to Jesus in public. This year, I want to be faithful to Jesus without necessarily always feeling the need to be vocal about it. I don’t want to push anyone away from the Gospel anymore. As a linebacker, there is a spotlight on me anyway and I want to use that to point to Christ through my actions.
My lifestyle is very different, and often shocking, to other NFL players. I love my wife and kids and I’m faithful to them before God. I want others to be able to say, “His lifestyle is completely different from mine but he never tells me how wrong I am, instead he loves me.” I want to be able to enter into the lives of my teammates with love and grace. When our lives are a light to others, we can see God do the work in their lives.
Having been with the whole team now for a few weeks, I’m excited that we’ve had a lot of guys coming to our Bible study already, including our three quarterbacks. It’s during this time that we are able to talk a lot about our faith. But we are called to live out our faith outside the chapel—demonstrating Christ’s love through our actions and the decisions we make. The guys notice that I am often on the opposite side of a decision from them, but they respect me for it. I’ve already had a few conversations with guys who have wanted to know more about why I make the decisions that I make for my life. In this way, I see that being faithful to Jesus in public is huge.
Life as a NFL athlete brings about the temptation of getting caught up in the glory of it all—there are so many people praising you. That can be a hard battle to fight. There are days when I spend an hour talking humbly with God but once I step outside or look to social media, there are many voices looking for me to be the hero—the savior. I need to constantly remind myself that I am here to be pointing others to Christ. God tells us that:
“The last will be first, and the first will be last.” —Matthew 20:16
God has put me in this position to serve others, not to be praised by them. By being in this position I have the opportunity and responsibility to let Christ’s light shine through me.
Demario Davis is a regular contributor to The Increase and will be providing monthly articles and opinions.
Check out Demario’s Increase profile here: https://theincrease.com/author/demario-davis/
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