The challenge I find myself facing this year is the same one we are all faced with and that is the one placed before us by God to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19).
When you are in the NFL, you talk about your life on and off the field. When you retire from the game, it’s as if you have extended “off the field” time. I’m now able to meet more new people outside the game of football. My platform hasn’t diminished since my career in the NFL has ended. If anything, it has increased and I’m able to shine God’s light to more and more people.
I don’t ever want to press God’s Word on others or pressure them to make any decision they’re not ready for. Instead, I want God’s light to shine through me in the way I carry myself. I hope the way I live my life and how I value my family displays His love. That’s my main goal — to be a mirror of God’s image and what Jesus has done for us.
In December, I turned 33, which is the same age Jesus was when He died on the cross to save us from our sins. So I’ve been calling this my “Jesus Year.” Though every year is a big year, this is a significant one for me. I want to continue to grow in my own faith in Christ as well as reach others with the Gospel. Whatever my sphere of influence is, I always aim to impact more people, more consistently. We can easily hear a sermon on Sunday, feel “on fire” and then let our excitement die off. We hear about that when Jesus told us the parable of the good soil and bad soil (Matthew 13). But we can’t let that fire die. As much as I can, I try to use my presence in my community and on social media to impact others for Christ.
You may feel like your platform has or will diminish once you’re done with your sport, but that doesn’t have to be the case at all. If we continue to stay active and intentional with those around us, we can use whatever God’s given us in that moment to reach even broader audiences than we have in the past.
For me, I have been able to be active in my community as well as continue a television presence. I was able to do some TV appearances with the Bears this past season, but I also just finished a weekly acting class. I’m not looking to be the next Denzel, but I do think I can make a difference in this field as well. The way black men are often portrayed on television isn’t how all of us live. I hope I can use my NFL influence to change this perspective and show the world a black man who can love God first, then family and then education, athletics, etc.
Maybe I can help shift the narrative. I would love to give young black males and females an idea of what life should look like. For my daughter, I hope to show her what kind of man she should be attracted to when she’s older. For my son, I want him to learn to respect women, not objectify them. It’s a blessing to have a family — to have their love and support. I don’t take it for granted and I don’t want my kids to either.
If we can invest, not only our money, but more importantly, our time and energy to serve and influence others for Christ, we can be more like Him. Jesus was the most selfless person on this earth. What are some little ways we can reflect Him as His image bearers?
— MattForte, former NFL running back
MattForte is a regular contributor of The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.
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