Athlete, we have a desire for purpose


Athlete, we have a desire for purpose

Tom Petersburg

2 Timothy 1:9 (NASB)

[God] who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,

He had an impressive background — high school and college academics, two-sport standout, numerous conference and national honors for his athletic achievements. He was a “no miss” first round NFL draft pick. 

But, a great rookie start was derailed by four years of major injuries. He only lasted six years in the league. 

No teammate outworked him in the weight room, in preparation or in monotonous rehab. Yet, coaches questioned him and the media labeled him with their disappointment.

I talked with this “no-miss” pro a few weeks after he announced his retirement. When I asked how he was handling the transition out of the NFL, he replied, “For a couple of weeks I was sad about it. But the game did not define me when I entered the NFL, and it does not define me in leaving. I am doing well.” 

He shifted the conversation to his future dreams and plans.

Many retired athletes struggle to rekindle the thrill, challenge or comradery they once knew in the game. Some careers may have been defined by unmet wants. It leads some to battle depression and desperate thoughts of suicide. 

It is hard to match elements of the athletic life they have experienced since their teenage years.

With the hope of great success for this “no-miss” draft pick, why did he adjust so well to the disappointment? He and his wife recognized that God had a purpose for them, and they pursued it wherever God took them in life. 

They worked hard to be all they could be to their team. Off the field, they were drawn to use their resources, influence and time to meet the needs of those less privileged.

They have realized something greater than success. They have found significance in fulfilling their purpose of making a lasting impact on the world for the glory of God.

Tom Petersburg, 


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