Like many of us, Christian athlete Tim Tebow knows what it’s like to struggle with purpose. He has faced criticism and intense media scrutiny not only for his performance on the field, but also for his beliefs and values that he has been very public about. Following an exceptional college football career with the Florida Gators and a promising playoff run with the Denver Broncos, Tebow was traded to the New York Jets. He was released after one season.
In the Spring of 2012, he was traded from the Broncos to the Jets, a move that felt to him like a betrayal of sorts. “I thought this was going somewhere special! I thought this was a plan You designed for me. If that was true, then why, God, why is this thing crashing and burning?,” Tebow said. A year later, the Jets let him go. In that moment of frustration, fear and disappointment, Tebow had to rediscover his purpose and he did, through the help of God. Here are four lessons on living your purpose from Tim Tebow.
You Will Be Tested
Walking out of the locker room and knowing the news of his release would be broadcast to millions of people, including his fans wasn’t easy. He pictured the thousands of letters, cards and emails he’d received from kids who looked up to him and rooted for him. He felt like he had failed them again. He put everything he had into training and it still wasn’t enough. Tebow knew God hadn’t left him and he knew He had a plan for his life. He also knew he still had a purpose. While his foundation in God was solid, much of what rested on top was shaken. He had no idea what the future would hold. This was the start of a new, but terrifying journey. He had to rediscover who He was and build his confidence in His identity in God, not the world. Doing this was life-changing.
You Must Define Who You Are in God
In the years following his release, there were many times when Tebow questioned who he was. At times he wondered, “Am I the person who won the Heisman Trophy,” and “Am I the person who has been told over and over again by so-called analysts that I can’t throw?” He discovered that identity comes not necessarily from who we are but whose we are. His true identity is as a child of God. He also discovered that who he was wasn’t based on others, on fitting in, on belonging to a certain crowd, or on living a certain lifestyle. His identity was based on belonging to God. No one can take that foundation from you.
When you’re trying to discover your purpose, it’s important that you define who you are in God. Your foundation for who you are should be grounded in faith. In a God who loves you. In a God who gives you purpose. In a God who sees the big picture. In a God who always has a greater plan. You are a beautiful object of His love. God promises us He’ll provide a path through any trial we face.
The disciples probably wondered how long the storm they faced would last and whether they would make it safely to shore. Most likely, they wished it never happened. But, had they somehow avoided the storm, they would have missed the demonstration of Jesus’ power over the sea and wind. The frightening situation was transformed into a revelation of the Savior’s divine nature. God wants to make His power known through our trials, as well.
It’s Never Too Late to Discover Your Calling
God taught Tebow many things through life’s obstacles and he eventually discovered that he could make a difference, even if he wasn’t playing on the football field. Trusting in his faith helped him pursue a new career in Major League baseball and launch the Tim Tebow Foundation, with a mission to serve children and share God’s love by fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves.
God Will Show You the Way
God teaches us how to live out of His strength by trusting His Spirit. Through faith, you will find your identity in Christ, which will calm the pounding waves that make you feel fearful, desperate or worthless. Jesus accepts us for who we are in Him rather than how we perform. This truth will calm your soul in the midst of failures.
“In those places of doubt, fear and even darkness, I’ve realized that who I am has nothing to do with the wins and losses, applause, or negative criticism. It has to do with whose I am,” Tebow said. “Knowing this, I can live out what the king of ancient Israel wrote in Psalm 16:8: I have set the LORD continually before me...”
Are you trying to discover your purpose? Do you fear the future? Do you have trouble figuring out your true calling. If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, remember that God is bigger than your circumstances. He is greater than any circumstance you are facing in this very moment. None of the challenges you will go through in life will be enjoyable. They can cause much pain. Yet, even in our regrets, God comforts us with His faithfulness. Whatever battle you are in, you stand victorious when you trust in God.