On the football field in college, as a professional football player with the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets, in everyday life, there is adversity. When faced with adversity, Tim Tebow turns to Scripture.
“I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know Who holds my future. Regardless of the obstacles, regardless of the tribulations, regardless of the trials, God’s not going to let me go, and He’s not going to let you go,” Tebow told an audience of more than 1,800 at the 8th annual University of Mobile
Leadership Banquet April 18.
University of Mobile President Dr. Mark Foley summed up the message of the annual fundraising banquet in one word: Influence.
“Tonight is about influence – the capacity or power of an individual to effect the actions, behavior and opinions of others,” Foley told the audience filling the Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center on the waterfront in downtown Mobile.
Tebow, whose athletic success and outspoken Christian faith has made him “one of the most influential persons in American culture today,” captured the attention of a nation “by careful stewarding of his skill and talent as an athlete, and his unwavering conviction to honor God,” Foley said.
Performances by Voices of Mobile and the University of Mobile Jazz Band entertained the crowd while showcasing exceptionally talented students from the UMobile Center for Performing Arts.
Tebow talked about faith, football and what really matters in life in a relaxed question-and-answer format with hosts Phil Savage, executive director of the Senior Bowl, and Neal Ledbetter, director of Campus Life at UMobile.
Tebow said that shortly after winning the Heisman Trophy his sophomore year at the University of Florida, he had the opportunity to travel to Thailand and speak to 400 missionaries serving in southeast Asia, including his sister. The son of missionaries who served in the Philippines, Tebow wondered on the flight over what he could share.
“I’m a 19- or 20-year-old playing a silly game called football. These are missionaries who are putting their lives on the line every single day for the Gospel, for the cause of Christ. What do I have to share with them?” he told the audience.
Tebow recalled the verses on humility his mother had made him memorize as a child, when he was bragging about his athletic ability. He thought specifically of Matthew 23:12, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Tebow said the missionaries were humbling themselves and serving, not so people would give them a pat on the back or say “good job,” but because they truly wanted to make a difference.
So Tebow told them, “If the world could see you through God’s eyes, you would be the ones winning the Heisman Trophy, not me. Not me. I play a silly game called football, but you are pouring your life into what matters every single day, and that’s what makes you great.”
Tebow said playing football is just a little part of the many things he would like to do with his life. Among those are helping children through the Tebow Foundation and the Tebow CURE Hospital in the Philippines, the nation in which he was born.
He said he wants to be an encouragement to others, just as more than 130 people were an encouragement to him moments before the banquet began.
“I probably had in that line the most people I’ve taken pictures with say they were praying for me. I want to let you know I really appreciate that. You never know what that can do for someone,” he said.
Foley said Tebow’s influence is immense – and so is the influence of a Christian university committed to preparing graduates to be people of faith with an understanding of responsibility to God, to others and to self-sacrifice as a foundational principle of a healthy society.
“I want you to understand that is the purpose and will continue to be the purpose of the University of Mobile,” Foley said. “It matters not the contrary opinions of government or the prevailing winds of society. This is where this institution will stand. And we will say so proudly and without hesitation.”
Speaking passionately and pausing after each word, Foley declared, “We. Will. Follow. Jesus Christ” as the audience burst into applause.