“A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8).
No one said it would be easy.
A police lieutenant told me why he could never live the Christian life. “I have to be tough in this line of work. I have to use language that would peel the bark off a hickory tree in order to make myself understood to the people I deal with. I couldn’t do that as a Christian.”
Perhaps he needs to take a lesson from Kobe Bryant, the retired great of the L. A. Lakers, and Demario Davis of the New Orleans Saints.
According to an article in USA Today (December 19, 2018), Demario Davis lives by the code found in Kobe Bryant’s book. “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play” explains how Bryant adopts an aggressive personality, one different from his normal self, when he walks onto the basketball court.
Get that? Become someone else once you don the armor. Become a warrior who takes no prisoners. Then, later, showered and dressed, you return to the Clark Kent persona.
Most of us might have trouble pulling that off.
Demario Davis, who plays for the New Orleans Saints, told the reporter how that works out for him. “For me, it’s like, I have to ask for forgiveness for what I’m about to do on the field. And then when I’m coming in off the field, I’m asking forgiveness for what I just did on the field, because you have to go to a killing mentality. A Mamba Mentality.”
“You can’t be that nice guy on the field,” he said. “You’ve got to have that switch. For me, it’s a mental process. It’s a psych, to go to another place.”
Back before that personality switch had a name, I recall hearing All-pro defensive end for the Cleveland Browns Bill Glass say something that may have been referring to the same syndrome. “A lot of coaches think you can’t play football if you’re going to be a Christian. But it’s my job to show them they’re wrong.” Bill was an evangelist off the field, but fierce once he was suited up.
A kill mentality?
I’ve known church members with that philosophy. Some have run cut-throat competitive businesses that used any tactic, even bordering on the illegal, to beat their competitor. Some have not stopped at that border, either, and are serving time in the penitentiary as a result. I’ve known church members who used anything that worked to get their way at church, whether it meant being elected to high position or running off the pastor.
I once knew a deacon who was big in denominational circles and would teach Sunday School and pray impressive prayers when called on, but who was notorious for his bullying in personal relationships and community projects. He would have his way at all costs.
And the list of church members who rationalize their adulteries (and worse, even child molestation!) seems endless.
God, help your church!
What should a Christian football player do? Answer: Do your all-out best on the field. But if you think you are on that team in order to maim the opposing quarterback or to cheat every time the referee turns his back, you need to find another line of work.
I love to see opposing players reach a helping hand to the fellow they just knocked down. I love to see competitors meet on the field after the final whistle and greet one another as old friends.
I do not personally require Christian football players to pause in the end zone after a touchdown and kneel and pray. For me, that seems a little showy. Just be a person who gives your all, who does your best, who respects the other team, and be involved off the field in making a difference in your community.
Write your book, football player. Like Ben Watson of the New Orleans Saints. Take your stand for Christ there, but live it in the locker room and on the field.
Love. Respect. Honor. Integrity. Compassion. Zeal.
Christian virtues in whatever field you work.