If blaming is bad, what about praising God for football success?

A majority of this week’s posts have been about football: more specifically blaming God for football mistakes.

Here’s a story about Tampa Bay Buccaneers DT and first round draft pick Gerald McCoy where this player does the opposite of Steve Johnson. He actually credits God for his improved play in recent weeks. Here’s an excerpt from the St Pete Times.

“My spiritual life, what was happening, I was swaying away from that,” McCoy said. “I was kind of doing things the way I wanted to do it. God had a plan for my life, and I wasn’t living according to how His plan was. “Once I got back on track is when things started to really make a quick transformation. Two games, three sacks, it happens that fast. You’ve got to stay on track with God, and things work out for you.”

First of all I have to say that I heard McCoy being interviewed on the Dan Patrick radio show, and he was very mature, classy, humble, and a godly lad.

In light of the respect I already have for this 21-22 year old,  I’d simply like to throw out a question: “Since its never a good idea to blame God as the reason for your bad play, is it ALWAYS good to cite God as the reason for your good play?”

It is always good to attribute your God-given ability to, well, God. It is always good to attribute your opportunity to God; some folks just don’t get the opportunity because of coaching situations, injuries, family tragedies, etc…

But while attributing ability, opportunity, and even success to God, athletes need to be very careful in attempting to explain WHY God has granted those things. This can actually become quite dangerous.

God does bless people when they return to Him, but HOW He does that is His business. We don’t get a vote. God could be graciously (unmerited) blessing McCoy after He wandered and returned, that his poor play was God’s way of getting his attention. But its also possible, that McCoy, a rookie, has simply begun to learn to play within the system now.
 There are numerous examples of God raising up athletes for seasons of their lives for a specific purpose and then setting them down. Pittsburgh Steeler’s Tommy Maddox comes to mind, as does Shaun King for the Bucs, both of whom are professing Christians. Both had A season of playing at a high level before being deposed.

Who knows why God exalted them for a bit, and then humbled them shortly after? Was it moral failure? Did God exalt them because they returned to the Lord? Did He simply want them to glorify Him in different places through defeat? No idea.

To assume we know WHY God allows Christian athletes, businessmen, or pastors to excel is to assume a very simple and reductionist view of God. It equates walking with God with outward success in life; aka the “prosperity gospel.” God simply becomes a vending machine with the currency of good works used to squeeze something out of Him.

In conclusion, I think it is awesome McCoy recognizes God’s Sovereignty in His success. I just wish he and other Christian athletes wouldn’t draw such a necessary connection between faith and success. 

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