Much has been said about Tim Tebow. And you can count on a lot more. My favorite so far is the post by Nathan Busenitz. But I want to add a few pastoral thoughts to the conversation.
I don’t know where Tim goes to church. So obviously I don’t know who his pastor is nor do I have particular encouragements or criticisms about the nature of how his soul is being shepherded. However, I am a pastor (and a father) who has been asked over and over what I think about Tim Tebow.
I like Tim Tebow. And that is no small thing since he led victories against my beloved Tennessee Volunteers as the Florida Gators quarterback.
I like his positive image. I like his humility. I like his football ability. I like his toughness. I like his 4th quarter comebacks. And I love that is he is unashamed of his Savior, Jesus Christ.
But if I were his pastor, I would offer him some counsel that might seem a bit contrarian.
First, I would discourage Tim from “Tebowing” (dropping to a knee in obvious prayer) after a positive play unless he was doing the same after he had been sacked or intercepted. I don’t have any problem with him praying after good plays, but the theology communicated by doing so publically at that time is just misguided. What should be concluded if Tim throws a touchdown pass against a Christian cornerback or safety? Is God not helping them? And should they Tebow (now a verb) in their success over Tebow? What about the Christian defensive back who intercepts him or the believing defensive end who drops him with a crushing tackle? Couldn’t they be justified to drop to a knee and pray with thanksgiving? Would it be right for a Christian defensive player to be caught on camera Tebowing after causing Tebow to fail?
We are commanded to give thanks for all things (Eph 5:20; Col 3:17). But giving demonstrable thanks to God for first downs and touchdowns has the unintended consequence of a prosperity theology where God’s blessing is success.
Second, I would encourage Tim to change his rhetoric. Instead of repeating the mantra that “I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (which usually goes unexplained), I would love to hear something like “I’m thankful that God has given me the ability to play football, but I’m more grateful He has saved me from His judgment through the gospel of Jesus Christ.” The difference is subtle, but important. I’m glad Tim names the name of Jesus. When he does so, however, talking about why he is thankful would be clarifying. Jesus is to be praised for securing souls, not scoring touchdowns.
Third, I would ask Tim to consider the implications of his theology. In a recent discussion with one of my sons about Tebowmania, he asked me a great question. “Dad, do you think God is a Broncos fan now that Tebow is their quarterback?” Again, to which team does God provide assistance when both have faithful Christian players? I know Tim wants to be faithful witness for Christ. And his boldness is admirable and convicting. But how much better would that testimony for the Lord be if he added biblical clarity and accuracy to his testimony.
Let me say again, I really like Tim Tebow. He is the kind of role model I want my sons to live like. Because of that I pray he becomes the kind of theologian I want them to think like.
And for the record, I would love to be Tim Tebow’s pastor…