Athlete, You Have to or Get to


Athlete, You Have to or Get to

Bryce Johnson

1 Peter 2:9-11 (NLT)

… for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light. “Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” Dear friends, I warn you as “temporary residents and foreigners” to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.

Super Bowl week officially kicks off as both teams gather for “Opening Night” in Tampa Bay. Media members come out in full force as players and coaches answer countless questions during interviews.

With excitement in the air, players are undoubtedly thrilled about their team making it this far, but here are a few perspectives they may be wrestling with as they process this week’s reality:

  • I have to deal with so many media obligations and interviews … or I get to talk to the media and fans all week long.
  • I have to worry about the friends and family members who I couldn’t get Super Bowl tickets for … or I get to share this experience with my teammates and the family members who will be in the crowd.
  • I have to avoid and miss out on so much of the fun taking place in Tampa Bay because I have a game to prepare for … or I get to play in the biggest sporting event of the year and I don’t want any distractions affecting my focus.
  • I have to watch game film and prepare all week because it’s my job … or I get to play in an epic game on Sunday and I want to be as ready as possible.

In other words, players either view the activities during Super Bowl week as obligations … or opportunities.

As followers of Jesus, I find there’s a parallel thought process that we encounter. We either view our lives and identity in Christ as freeing and filled with immense opportunities … or we lean toward feeling trapped and filled with obligations such as having to obey, love and serve.

The truth is, Jesus wants us to be free and filled with joy and excitement because of the abundant life He makes available to us. When we surrender and give our lives to Him, we join the family of God and become part of something very special (read 1 Peter 2:9-11 above).

As we rest in His freedom and understand who we really are, we shift our perspective from “have to,” to “get to.” We get to know God, get to serve Him, get to hear from Him, and get to spend eternity with Him! 

The players this week are identified as members of Super Bowl LV and get to experience everything that comes along with it. Let’s allow this to remind us we’re identified as members of God’s family and get to experience everything that comes along with it. 


  1. What aspects of your life feel more like obligations when they are actually opportunities?
  2. Which “get to” above resonates the most with you today?

A prayer to consider: Heavenly Father, thank You so much for allowing me to be in Your family. I appreciate the wonderful life I get to have because of it. Please help me to understand what it means to have my identity rooted in Christ and to live in freedom. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Bryce Johnson is the president and founder of UNPACKIN’ it Ministries whose mission is to challenge, encourage and inspire sports fans to follow Jesus and become more like Him. For more info visit:, or email


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