This past Tuesday, we had the opportunity to sit down with former Pro Bowl Defensive End, Luther Ellis, who is now the chaplain of the Denver Broncos. This is what he had to say about being a follower, a teacher and a guide for the young men God has entrusted to his leadership.
Luther Ellis: Who wouldn’t love to be around the greatest game of all time? As the Broncos’ team chaplain I get to be a part of this amazing organization and share the Gospel 24/7. It’s the best of both worlds: being a part of the game that I love so much while sharing the Gospel. Of course I have always tried to do that but when I was a player my focus had to be on the game and performing the best that I possibly could. Now I get to focus on being the best chaplain that I can possibly be.
I see a lot of turmoil and struggle that goes on internally for guys on the team and I understand it. It’s a hard life being in the NFL. Even if they have grown up in the church and know Christ, it’s hard to balance being a superstar football player as well as a man of God. Their whole lives have been based on being a football player. This is their identity and a lot of times, when that is taken away they don’t know who they are. They are lost. But if they have placed their hope in Christ, they can know that there’s something so much greater—something that lasts for eternity. Meanwhile, there’s a balance that the players need to find as they ask themselves, “How can I live out my faith while also being a part of the world?” In fact, this is one of the biggest struggles for all people.
We look at Christ, the Son of God, who was sharing the Gospel 24/7, and we all try to be like that. But you also have to be cognizant of those around you and love them where they are. We are not called to be hitting people over the head with the Bible; we are called to love them as Christ loves the Church.
“‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:31
God is a loving, caring God—we can see that from the Old Testament to the New. Since we are humans we are going to stumble, we are going to fall, but because of the love of Christ we have been redeemed. Therefore, I am able to love others and say, “It’s because of His love and forgiveness that I am able to love you.”
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” -1 Corinthians 13:13
When I was a player, I struggled because I always tried to be this tough, macho warrior on the field while also being the hands and feet of Christ. I knew that this platform is unbelievable because no matter what the person watching me may believe, they will give me the time of day simply because of what I do on the field. So as I work with the team now, I try to help them be bold for Christ and use this platform that God has given them to bring Him glory.
This season there were a lot of highs and lows, at first we were undefeated and then we weren’t sure if we were even going to go to the playoffs. But the thing about this team is that we are grinders; we believe we are in the game until that last tick of the clock—we believe we can win. That attitude is part of this team’s identity.
During the rollercoaster of a season that we’ve had, the overall theme that we have been focusing on in our team Bible studies this year has been knowing our identity in Christ. It’s about personally knowing who Christ is through studying His Word and then finding your identity in Him. With that comes the ultimate peace and joy that no championship win can bring.
Being part of the Super Bowl now, I believe and hope that we as a team know who we are and, as believers, that we know who we are. It is then that we can take this great platform that we’ve been given to not just get a big ole’ Super Bowl ring but to also do what we are doing today—share our faith and give God the glory.
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