Athlete, We Generally Live for the Hope of Applause


Athlete, We Generally Live for the Hope of Applause

Tom Petersburg

Ecclesiastes 2:11 (NASB)

Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.

(This week features five observations from 30 years in an NFL locker room.)

I was eager to have lunch with a player on the team who just returned from his first Pro Bowl in Hawaii. “So, how was this incredible honor that every player works for?” I asked. Without hesitation he answered, “It was great, but it was all over before my plane lifted off for home.”

Work and rewards are encouraging, but they never fulfill the hope we have for applause. Applause fades so quickly. After a game. After an awards ceremony. After the retirement party. 

The problem with the hope of applause is that it makes the applause our motivation for what we do. Instead of doing our work in a way that pleases God, we are working overtime just for the kudos. When we fail to get what we want, we don’t work as hard.

As I was writing this, a city dump truck came down my street picking up tree branches from a weekend storm. As I quickly dragged my branches to the curb I noticed this young worker had the words Colossians 3:23 written across his yellow safety vest. You may know the verse: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” When I commented on the verse, a huge smile broke across his face.

Today will be a long, hot day. The neighbors are grateful the debris is being cleared, but no one is lining the streets to cheer him on. He is not working for the applause, so you will not meet a happier man today.

The ultimate applause is in our future. In Matthew 25, Jesus told a parable of entrusting His followers with talents. Those who are faithful in doing their work for Him will be greeted in heaven one day with, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

Tom Petersburg  |


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