A great teacher, mentor and friend of mine, a truly great mind in the field of youth ministry and one of those all around good guys, Terry Linhart recently posted something in response to Adam McLane from Youth Specialties who posted thoughts in response to the intense criticism that seems to follow around the one, the only Tim Tebow. Of course, because of my love of sports and my desire to understand culture more and more coupled with my desire to see the Church put Jesus name out there into that culture, I was acutely interested in both Terry and Adam's thoughts. It has created a few thoughts of my own.
I think that it is interesting to note that Tim Tebow does have some pretty clear opponents and he has some pretty clear proponents. Both of which use differing arguments and make differing points as to why Tim is a great leader or a terrible quarterback, depending on which side of the discussion they are on. Personally, I think that he has a fantastic competitor's heart and ability to inspire greatness among people with the ability to be compassionate and caring for those around him in ways that not many can possess. However, I think there is a ripple effect that Tim has set into motion and not too many have talked about it.
What I find so interesting about Tim Tebow's story and it's impressive attention received by national media since his sophomore year at Florida is the trailblazing that Tim has done when it comes to other Christians who find themselves in high profile platform positions, specifically in sports. Tim Tebow seemed to blaze a trail for more and more athletes to put aside the fear of some sort of fallout for declaring their citizenship. I think of guys like Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Matt Barkley, Landry Jones, and the list goes on.
But it doesn't just stop there. Matt Hasselbeck, Ray Lewis, Mark Schlereth, even Cam Newton have become to be much more open with their faith. Other sports figures have begun to do the same: Dwight Howard, J.J. Redick, Josh Hamilton. Of course, with others like Tony Dungy, Lovie Smith as well as TV personalities like James Brown and Chris Mortensen have come a little more out of their shell.
Don't get me wrong, I realize that there have been Christians in high profile positions in sports for many years. But it seems like there is something different about this time in history. And it just seems like Tim Tebow was so bold and so unashamed in how he carried Christ on his sleeves that others have found some inspiration in that. I think it also has to do with the wave of movement that is sweeping through the hearts of believers around this nation. But more on that in a couple of days.