Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 03/09/22

What’s your mission? In his new book Mission Possible: Go Create a Life That Counts (WaterBrook), famed two-time national college football champion, Heisman Trophy winner, ESPN contributor and former professional baseball player Tim Tebow says it’s important to have one – and to know that God has empowered you to accomplish it.

JWK: Tell me about Mission Possible. How did the book come about and what do you hope it accomplishes?

Tim Tebow: Mission Possible is something that’s been on my heart for quite a while. I wrote it because I wanted to encourage people. I feel like our world right now – all of us, including myself – we need encouragement. That’s why this book is titled Mission Possible and not Mission: Impossible – because it is possible for our lives to count.

So many studies that have come out in the last several years. One survey being that over 60% of 18-to-34 year olds say there’s no one in the world that believes in them. Another survey says one-third of people are lonely most of the time or all the time. And then another survey says that 12% of our daily thoughts are spent on comparison. You just look at these and, honestly, it just makes me sad.

I wanted to write something that’s an encouragement to all people – but especially to young people that are being pulled in so many directions – to say, yes, life’s not always easy but we do have a mission, we do have purpose and it is possible. I believe that every single person was created in love, by love and for love and that we all have a plan and a purpose in life. I wanted to encourage them and also let them know that it is a mission and that it is possible. You’re not here by accident. You’re not here by happenstance.  You have an opportunity in life to truly make your life count and to have great significance and purpose. That was…why I wanted to write Mission Possible.

JWK: I’ll go through some of the principles and suggestions you lay out in your book. Maybe you can elaborate on them. One suggestion is that people should develop a mission statement for the lives that takes into account their God-given talents, skills and opportunities.

TT: Yes. I think it’s so important to have a mission statement. I think mission statements are important for companies, for individuals, for families, for churches (and) for organizations because I think they help you articulate exactly what you believe (and) what you want to stand for. Ultimately, they help you (avoid) mission drift. So many times, I think it’s easy to start but then all of a sudden we start drifting away from what we say our beliefs, our purpose (and) our passions really are. So, I think mission statements are something that can help you articulate what you believe, share what you believe (and) stay on the path that you say you believe in and stay on the path (of) what you want to accomplish. Mission statements are super important. I think also, they’re something that are very practical.

(Along) with mission statements, I also think something that can be very helpful is (a list) of nonnegotiables of what you want to stand for (and) what you want to fight for. Nonnegotiables for a company, for a church, for an organization, for all of those things – because I really believe that they can just take the next step from a mission statement into those nonnegotiables of exactly who we are (and) what we want to do. I think it’s practical. Every day you get to compare what are you doing versus what it is your mission statement and you nonnegotiables actually say. Two months from then, two years from then, you know, two decades you can say “Hey, did we keep on our mission statement? Did we keep on our nonegotiables?” Sometimes they can change – but it really helps you (avoid) mission drift.

JWK: You say it’s important to “elevate convictions over emotions.” What do you mean by that?

TT: I believe that convictions are a deep-rooted set of values and principles. They’re deep in our soul and our core. I think emotions can be a good thing but they can also be fickle and fleeting. You might wake up one day with emotions that tell you “Hey, go work hard!” but then the next day they might tell you “Don’t get out of bed.” If we let out emotions define our lives then we’re gonna lives lives on roller coasters – up one day, down the next.

If we live life based on convictions we can live a lot more consistent and thought-through life. We elevate our convictions over our emotions because our emotions can be very loud sometimes and they can be very daunting sometimes. We don’t have to give into what our emotions say because our emotions are gonna say “Hey, listen, you need to think about yourself. You need to think about me.” Pride can get in the way, ego can get in the way and so many of those things – but our convictions can say “You know what? That’s not what’s most important.” So, we really talk about the balance of how our emotions can play into life but they don’t have to define our lives.

JWK: You also say it’s important to continue with your mission even when it seems boring.

TT: Absolutely. There are some times when we can get caught up in the monotonous, we can get caught up in the mundanes (and) we can get caught up in the disappointing times. That’s when we have to choose (to follow) our convictions. That’s when we have to live by our passion – and our compassion – for what we’re called to, what our mission is and what our purpose is. Some of the most important times of when we’ve gotta choose convictions, of when we’ve gotta choose to stay on the mission statement, to stay on the nonnegotiables are those monotonous times… Listen, it’s easy to get up for the national championship games, it’s easy to get up for the playoff games, it’s easy to get up for the big highs in life but you know what’s just as important is when you learn to be consistent in the down days, in the days when you don’t have as much happening. That is something that we really talk about and encourage. What you realize too in trying to live that way is that sometimes those days can actually be the ones that end up being the most meaningful because you’re, you know, willing to fight through something.

JWK: Along with the adult version of Mission Possible, you have a children’s version based on your Bronco and Friends book series. What’s it like being a children’s author, first of all?

TT: I love it. Honestly, it was so meaningful, the first Bronco and Friends. I was just so encouraged, literally Day One when it came out, from some of the letters and some of the messages that we received. Honestly, there were a lot of tears that were shed just in reading some of the messages. I actually got to correspond with one of the families last night – letting them know that we’ve got the second one coming out and thanking them for their encouragement. It was just so fun to be able to do that.

The first Bronco and Friends was really focused on the value and worth that every single one of us has. This next one is really more focused on that it’s always the right time to do the right thing – even in the midst of some times when we’re afraid to do the right thing, even in the midst of some times when we’re unsure of what to do exactly – we can choose to do the right thing. You can live out that mission even when you’re a young boy or girl. So, I’m really excited about it.

JWK: You obviously feel it’s important to place positive ideas in children’s minds. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on teaching kids the ideas behind Critical Race Theory.

TT: For me, my heart and what I believe one of the missions that God has really put on my heart is to encourage people, to be able to share the good news of the Gospel and share the hope for humanity. When I hear different studies that have come out over the last few years about so many things that young people are going through – a survey in 2020 came out that over 6,000 10 to 24 year olds committed suicide – (I know) we have to do more to be able to support and bring faith, hope and love to young people so that they know just how special, how wonderful, how worthy and how much value that their life has. I believe that is not just value from me or from you but it’s value from the God of this universe. We have to be able to share that and to encourage people. I think it’s encouraging when you realize you have a mission, that Someone gives you a mission – and it’s a God-given mission – and with that mission comes purpose and with knowing that mission is possible comes encouragement. We have to give people purpose and we have to give them encouragement so that they know just how valuable and special their life is.

JWK: You attribute much of your success to your mother – beginning when she opted not to abort you despite medical advice suggesting she do so.

TT: My mom and my dad are two of my biggest heroes and biggest role models. Both of them are just so incredible. Being able to see them give so much of their adult lives to helping other people – especially people that could never do anything in return – has just been something that has truly impacted and changed my life. It’s not just what they told me. It’s more about what they showed me. Being able to see that every day – authentically, through the good and through the bad – I think it’s contagious. The more you see it, the more you want to be like it and the more you want to be around it.

JWK: Your parents were missionaries in the Philippines. You spent much of your childhood in the Philippines. What was that like?

TT: Well, I think it was a huge blessing for me. I love the Philippines and I love the Filipino people so much. So, that was an incredible opportunity and then being able to go back so many times – I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been back there – has been incredible. But then also to be able to go to so many other countries around the world, I feel like what that really helped me with was to gain a perspective of it’s not just about what happens Florida or New York or in the States but what’s happening around the world. I think it gave me so much more of a perspective to see how so many people are living and that just really, really impacted me – especially as a young adult and in middle school and high school. It really changed my perspective.

JWK: Speaking of the world, do you have any thoughts about what’s going on in Ukraine right now? It must be on your mind like it’s on everyone’s mind.

TT: Absolutely it is. So many of my thoughts and prayers have gone to so many people there and finding ways that we can help and support (them). We have so many ministries that we’re partnered with there – churches that we’ve partnered with, special-needs organizations that we’ve partnered with, orphanages we’ve partnered with and (are doing) everything we can to help, love, take care of and bring what ever needs and support we can to be people in such a truly dark hour of need.

JWK: You’re talking about the work of The Tim Tebow Foundation. What’s it like running a foundation – and what is the mission?

TT: I think it’s one of the greatest blessings of my life and I think also one of the greatest callings of my life. Our mission statement is “To bring faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.” To really sum that up, it’s to really fight for people that can’t fight for themselves. We’re fortunate now to be in 75 countries and serving in four main areas but with 60 different initiatives – whether for those that are being trafficked against their will, those that have severe special needs, those that are orphaned or have been abandoned (or) those that have profound medical needs. In so many different areas, our mission is truly to fight for them in their darkest hour of need and to bring that faith, hope and love…Whether that’s being part of another hospital or that’s opening up a campus for girls who have been trafficked or building baby safes for babies that get thrown away or another orphanage or Night to Shine which is worldwide prom for people with special needs, just in whatever way we can fight for those in their darkest hour of need, whatever way we can fight for those that have been truly literally abandoned or thrown away, we just want them to know that they’re loved, that they’re valuable, that we’re fighting for them, we’re fighting with them, that we love them (and) more importantly God loves them.

One of our nonnegotiables is that we’re on a rescue mission for them and there’s a sense of urgency. You know, just in Johannesburg alone every day there are three or four babies that are abandoned. That’s just in one city of one country. That’s just so on our hearts – that we can (help) as many people as possible and in as many places as possible.

JWK: Turning to your athletic career, both in football and in baseball, did you ever get the sense that people formed their opinions regarding your abilities based more on how they felt about your faith than on your actual record?

TT: I try, honestly, not worry about things that I can’t control. I try to focus on things that I can control. That’s my attitude, my effort, my focus and my choice…I can’t control what anybody else does but I can control what I think, what I do and the way that I can try to go make a difference. So, it’s just always trying to focus on those things – whether that’s playing or whether it’s now in the different opportunities that I get to live out. It’s still that same mindset. It’s not letting other people define you but it’s going after the things I feel like God puts on my heart.

JWK: One of the controversies from your football career was how you would, as they say, “take a knee” – in praise of and gratitude to God. Some time later Colin Kaepernick would do pretty much the same thing – but to as a gesture of protest against racism and police brutality. People often had almost mirror reactions as to whether your respective gestures were appropriate. What are your thoughts on that?

TT: For me it was just doing what I believed was right. It’s the same thing that I did from my (high school) sophomore year all the way through. It wasn’t something I started doing in the NFL. It was something I had started at Nease High School. Before and after every game, I just tried to find a quiet place to the side and talk to my Heavenly Father and ask Him for the grace, the courage and the humility to handle what ever is thrown my way. That’s not necessarily just from a game standpoint – but from an attitude, from a mindset…It wasn’t something that started when I got to college or in the NFL. It was something I started before that but I just wanted to continue to do that to try and honor Him before and after games – but, more importantly, to try to connect with Him. When so many people would try to make it about a game, I wanted to make it about something that’s so much more than that.

JWK: In 2010 you did a pro-life Super Bowl ad with your mother that sparked some controversy. Some people called it “a travesty.” Other people, obviously, were very much in favor of its message. What was that experience like?

TT: Well, it was something that I wanted to do because I wanted to be able to celebrate life and celebrate my mom and her support of me. It was something that I think has a lot of encouragement for a lot of people. I’m just so grateful for my mom and her example to me and being able to share that celebration and share that love for humanity and love for people.

JWK: I understand that the ad actually did encourage some people to carry their babies to term.

TT: I believe that is correct. I actually had the chance to meet several of the babies (whose mothers) were influenced by that night and that commercial. I had the chance to hold some of them. (They were) very special moments.

JWK: So, what’s next for you. I saw you in a commercial you did for Nissan. You kind of have a Tom Selleck quality. I could see you in a TV show. Do you get offers for acting? Do you have any interest?

TT: I’ve gotten a few in the past. I’m not sure. I think for me the biggest calling is what we’re doing at the Foundation and then trying to encourage people. I’m not sure what all is in front of me but I’m grateful for every opportunity I get.

JWK: Finally, how about politics? Any future there?

TT: I’ll never say never. I just feel like if one day if one day I feel like that’s where I can create the biggest amount of change and impact then it’ll be something I’ll think of but I think right now the mission and greatest calling is what we’re doing at the Foundation.

IMHO: On a slightly frivolous note, and indulging the amateur TV programmer in me, in 2016 ABC had a potential series in development that would have been produced by Michael Strahan. Hobbs would have followed the exploits of Tommy Hobbs, a former Heisman Trophy winner who joins the Miami police force after not being drafted by the NFL and is partnered with a meticulous, rule-following detective who has trained her whole life to become a police officer. The concept screams to have Tebow in the lead. With scripts that aligned with his heartfelt concerns and values, it could be a real winner.

Kelsey Grammer to star in two faith-themed films. One of my favorite TV star who headlined one of my all-time favorite shows (Frasier) will soon be seen in the inspirational movie High Expectations set to open nationwide in over 850 theaters on April 7th as a special Fathom Event.

High Expectations, which takes on themes of fatherly love, forgiveness and second chances, casts the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning Grammer as a legendary soccer coach who is estranged from his depressed son Jack (Taylor Gray) who is also at odds with his all-star goalie brother Sam (Adam Aalderks). The film also marks the cinema debut of pop singer Ally Brooke (formerly of Fifth Harmony) as Jack’s ex-girlfriend Sophia.
Meanwhile, Deadline reports that Grammer has also signed on for Lionsgate’s Jesus Revolution. Inspired by the true story of Pastor Chuck Smith (Grammer), the film will tell the story of the founding of Harvest Christian Fellowship, one of the largest churches in America whose Harvest Crusade have been attended by over six million people.

About his decision to take on the part, Grammer says “Jesus has been a profound influence in my life. I am proud to be a part of this film.” Grammer has, in the past, credited his faith with getting him through substance abuse struggles and many personal tragedies he has faced in his life.

IMHO: Though most people wouldn’t consider Frasier to be a faith-themed series, I’ve always viewed the show’s overall arc to be sort of a redemptive story about mending rifts with one’s family and growing as a human being. The character of Frasier, (who did on occasion express a belief in God, was imperfect to be sure but he also sincerely strove to become a better man. And he did. A great character and a great show.

Low tech. With Big Tech companies already under fire for alleged political censorship, The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) has announced that technology companies Meta, Google Search, Discord and Twitter are among its 2022 Dirty Dozen List of mainstream contributors to sexual exploitation.

“Big Tech holds incredible influence over society, so it’s especially egregious when tech companies normalize, enable, and even profit from sexually exploitative practices, policies, and products. There is no other industry that has the capacity to help billions of people by prioritizing user protection and safety like Big Tech,” according to Lina Nealon, NCOSE’s director of corporate and strategic initiatives. She adds that “Tech companies on our Dirty Dozen List have enabled child sexual abuse to thrive on their platforms, and for predators to gain easy access to children. Those same companies frequently ignore survivors of sex trafficking and abuse who are seeking justice.

Nealon continues “Other companies named to the Dirty Dozen List include Visa, which allows the exploitative commercial sex industry to prosper; Etsy, which enables sex dolls and pornographic content to be sold; and Netflix, which normalizes the sexualization of children and whitewashes the violence and exploitation in prostitution.

She concludes “It is time for sexual exploitation to end. The 2022 Dirty Dozen List serves as a challenge to these companies and entities named to live up to their social responsibilities and make crucial changes to stop and prevent harm on their platforms and through their products. We urge the public to contact each entity on this list to advocate for urgent reform.”

Founded in 1962, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation bills itself as the leading national non-partisan organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health harms of pornography.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
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