I have become a Tim Tebow fan. Although I only watch the highlights on my computer, he has certainly added a new level of excitement to the game. But it’s not really his (questionable?) football skills I’m a fan of. It’s the person underneath, the poised young man who seems to be kind, generous and thoughtful.
I was especially moved by the fact that, after meeting a young fan who was suffering from a brain tumor and its associated ailments, he invited her to be his guest the next evening at an awards ceremony and walk down the red carpet with him. That’s not the kind of story you usually hear about football players and women! He seems to combine leadership with humility (which is certainly a Jewish tradition), yet he also makes people completely crazy! “Too much genuflecting.” “Too much talk of God.” “Too much religion.”
Which begs the question – how much is too much? Who decides and what are the criteria?
When former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer said he wished Tebow would “just shut up after a game” and not praise the Almighty every time he makes a good play, Tebow responded brilliantly: “…if you’re married and you’re a (husband), is it good enough to only say you love her on the day you get married or should you tell her every single day when you wake up and have an opportunity?” Come on girls; we know it’s every day and every possible moment! His point is obvious.
We, as Jews, don’t limit our thanks to the Almighty to once a day. We say thank you for every morsel of food we eat. We say thank you every time we use the rest room (yes, it’s true! And it’s very powerful; think about it). We say “Thank God” when asked how we feel, what’s new, what’s happenin’ bro. It’s a good habit. It’s appropriate. It’s the right thing. We can learn from Tim Tebow.
So why does he continue to drive so many people nuts? Usually we react most strongly when someone pushes our buttons or makes us aware of our own deficiencies. I think Tim Tebow makes us feel inadequate and a little humiliated.
We are often embarrassed to proclaim our faith in public, to shout it out loud. Of course we should behave with dignity and modesty but, contrary to popular belief (and the prevailing opinions in the blogosphere) Judaism is NOT a religion meant to be practiced at home – and then left there.
Tebow makes us uncomfortable because he’s proud of his faith and unafraid to proclaim it.
Our relationship with God and the values He wants us to embody should permeate every aspect of our lives. It should inform every action, every thought, every word.
And the most basic starting point is gratitude. We need to constantly thank the Almighty for all the gifts He is constantly giving us.
Tim Tebow makes us uncomfortable because he’s not embarrassed to thank God out loud. He makes us uncomfortable because he’s proud of his faith and unafraid to proclaim it. He makes uncomfortable because he wears his religion on his sleeve.
There are many debates about whether you can learn anything from his style of football – or whether he even has a style! – but we can certainly learn from his life.
There’s a great line in the popular musical “Wicked.” The wizard tells Elpheba that “the most celebrated are the rehabilitated.” So there’s great excitement this season in the NFL over the return of Michael Vick and Plaxico Buress from their stints in jail. There’s tremendous tolerance of Ben Roethlisberger whose crimes don’t fit a family publication. But someone who talks about God? Too much.
We need to change our priorities – all of us. And if Tim Tebow can accomplish that, whether or not he takes the Broncos to the Super Bowl, he deserves our cheers.