Beyond the NFL
(January 26, 2003)
41, recently completed his second season as chaplain for the
New Orleans Saints. As a chaplain, author, speaker, director
of Greengard Ministries and host of the syndicated radio show
Christian Sports Minute (christiansportsminute.com),
Greengard spends many of his days ministering to and with
professional athletes. Recently, Greengard spoke with Kirk
Noonan, associate editor, about the realities of life for
PE: What is
one of the biggest struggles players face?
Many professional athletes find their identity in what they
do, which means their identity can change depending on how
well they played in their last practice or game. That life
has no peace or joy. It’s like being on a roller coaster.
I tell players that God does not change the way He looks at
us based on our performance. If we accept Him as Savior, we
are His children and in the hands of a loving Father.
PE: Do a lot
of non-Christians attend team chapels?
as many as I would like. We are seeing a lot of players come
who are committed to their walk, but we’re not seeing
a lot of seekers. Jesus came to seek those who are lost, and
that is my heart. I want to see guys who are walking with
the Lord grow in Him, but I also want to share God’s
Word with those who are searching.
PE: What are
your primary responsibilities as an NFL chaplain?
During the football season we are church for many of the players.
But it is also my job to encourage and disciple them throughout
the week. Chaplains feed the players spiritually, encourage
them, pray with and for them and impart God’s Word to
PE: What are
some of the biggest obstacles keeping players from Christ?
There is a lot of pride in the NFL. These players have beaten
the odds; they are the cream of the crop. They are involved
in a physical sport and they have accomplished something great,
so the world tells them they are the best things ever to walk
the earth. It’s easy to get caught up in that. Yet being
great at football only brings a temporary sense of accomplishment;
it can never bring lasting peace or joy.
What’s your take on a Christian football player when
he does something unbecoming during a game?
all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Living the Christian
life is a growing and maturing process. Christians should
not look for Christian football players to be perfect. We
are all growing in our walk and the only true model of what
we should be striving for is Christ.
PE: Dispel a
few myths about the NFL.
Some people think that once a player gets to the NFL he has
it all and will lead a perfect life. But success, if you are
not prepared for it, can be a huge problem.
Playing in the
NFL is not the ultimate answer to happiness; only Jesus is.
According to one study, within two years of an NFL player’s
last game, 78 percent are bankrupt, divorced or unemployed.
That tells me that all the stuff that comes with playing in
the NFL is only temporary.
PE: How should
Christians be praying for NFL players?
The same way they would pray for anyone they come in contact
with who does not have a relationship with the Lord. Also
pray that Christian players will continue to grow and glorify
the Lord in all they say and do. Let us, the Christian fans,
serve through prayer and encouragement. When we pray, our
prayers have power.
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