Purpose or Pride - Matt Forte

At some point, God is going to humble you.


“Those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” — Matthew 23:12


Upon first hearing this, I really took it into account. I never want to feel as if I’m exalting myself because I know that it will come back around to bite me. God will humble me. But it’s easy to fall into that trap, especially in the NFL. You find yourself on a huge stage and people look up to you. They consider you a kind of “super celebrity” just because of your athletic ability and presence on television. But guys in the NFL often don’t realize until too late that this fame is man-made. Without the media, we’d all be just like any other person. We’re no better than anyone else. Who says grownups and kids alike should look up to us just because we play a sport well?


Whenever people would ask me for my autograph, I felt uncomfortable with it. Why do you want a picture with me? I’m just a sinful human? The only person I want a picture or signature from is Jesus Christ.


But when this happens, many guys in the NFL find their pride rising. Soon they think they don’t have the time or desire to stop and take a photo with a kid. They’re too important for that. Says who? When so many are giving you free things for the purpose or representing their brand, or with the hopes that you’ll reciprocate with a greater gift, your head tends to get too big.


There’s nothing better than knowing who you are and Whose you are. We are all created for a purpose and when we know our purpose, we discover what life is truly about. If we are walking around purposeless, we will end up spinning our tires endlessly in the mud. Once you find out what you’re passionate about and how to use that for God’s glory, that’s when you start really living.


Living on purpose is what God is calling each of us to in our own unique way. When we try to use our individualism for our own purpose and pride, God will humble us. He humbles us so we will know what our greater purpose is. It may be a painful process to undergo, but the purpose you find through the pain is worth it.


After my first year of playing in 2008, I was named a candidate for NFL Rookie of the Year. I had reached over 1,000 yards and broke multiple franchise records with the Bears. I began to really feel like I had done a good job; I started to think this was easy. I thought it would always be that way. But my second year proved me wrong. Our team had a rough year, which happens to all teams, and I started to believe what the newspapers were saying about me.


“Am I falling off? Am I no good anymore?” I wondered.


This is why it’s so important to know your greater purpose. During that time, I chose not to listen to the lies around me. I chose to continue to do what I had done for my entire life — work to be at the top of my game. I kept my head down, tried to stay humble and waited to see what would happen. The next year our team did significantly better and even made it to the NFC Championship.


My fourth year I was looking for a contract extension, which was hinted at but never completed. I ended up playing on my rookie deal still, which is a lot of money compared to most jobs, but it was pennies to the dollar in light of what other running backs in the league were making. I started to feel unappreciated. But how dare I think that way when God has blessed me with the opportunity to play a child’s game on this platform! I couldn’t go to work angry with this mindset because I knew I was so fortunate to even be there.


That year I led the league in rushing yards and made it to the Pro Bowl. Even though I ended the year with a knee injury, I can look back and see that this was one of the best seasons I had ever had. Then God chose to bless me with a new contract in my fifth year.


I couldn’t see the future, but I chose to trust in God and remain humble. God was the One to exalt me in His time. He didn’t want me to do it in my own time or through my own strength. Now, when anyone compliments me on a great game, I love to tell them it’s only possible through the hands of my Heavenly Father — because everything that happens to us passes through His hands first.


When I was younger I couldn’t wait to make it to the NFL so I could spike the ball and do a victory dance after scoring a touchdown. But when I got there, I didn’t want the spotlight on me when I got to the end zone. It wasn’t about me. There were 10 other players on the field that helped me get to that place, and ultimately, God is in control. So instead of a dance, I would simply lift my finger to the heavens. It’s all because of Him.


— Matt Forte, former NFL running back


Matt Forte is a regular contributor of The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.


Check out Matt’s Increase profile here: http://theincrease.com/author/matt-forte/    


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