Friday, April 7, 2017

An Athlete's Truth - Collier Winters (Part 3 - Designed for a Purpose)

     I'm really excited to present to everyone part 3 of Collier Winter's segment of "An Athlete's Truth". It has been incredible getting to know Collier through his writing and what he shares. I consider it truly an honor to have met him and to have had him write for Coached in Truth. Thank you again Collier for your contribution to the Coached in Truth community! We have been waiting for this for a while so we are excited that it is here! So here we go! Part 3 - Designed for a Purpose by Collier Winters.

Part 3: Designed for a Purpose
It is great to finally sit down and write the part 3 of this series!  Sorry for the wait.  The holiday season came, along with some new responsibilities in the new year, and my attempts to write kept getting postponed.  Anyway, I am finally making it happen!  I really appreciate all of you who have been following along with parts 1 and 2.  Hopefully, part 3 will leave you with enough inspiration and practicals to go confidently and bring glory to God in whatever sport you are playing!
After I graduated from college, I was still pursuing my dreams to play in the NFL.  I signed with an agent, traveled to Kansas City to train, performed at my Pro Days at Boston College and at Harvard, and was looking for an opportunity to make a preseason camp with an NFL team!  Although I had a few teams who were interested, ultimately, that opportunity never came.  I was disappointed, but I also began to look for alternative ways to pursue my dream.  I continued to train for the next 7-8 months in order to tryout for a few Canadian Football League teams the following year.  After my tryouts, I was invited to preseason camp with the Montreal Alouettes.  I was ecstatic!  It seemed as though I might be on my way to making my dream happen!
I want to pause the story here to share what was also going on in my life personally, and spiritually, during all of this training.  While I was training, I was also an intern at the church in Boston (after I came back from Kansas City).  I was working in the campus ministry (leading a Bible Talk at Harvard) and also helping out with the teen ministry.  Throughout this time, my heart really began to grow more and more for the work of God’s kingdom.  My biggest dreams and passions were beginning to change, and my desire to become a minister even started to rival my desire to become a professional football player!  I realized that there was nothing more important or impactful that I could be doing with my time than helping people to know Jesus!  This didn’t mean that I immediately stopped pursuing a career in football - as I said, I was still training and working hard, and then went up to Montreal - but, it helped me to recognize more fully a crucial and fundamental part of being a Christian: my life is no longer about me.  Paul says it perfectly in 2 Corinthians 5:15, “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”  When I understand this and really put it into practice, it had a big impact on my life and the way I that I thought about things.
One of the clearest changes that I made was in my prayer life.  I used to pray, “God, I pray that you would give me the opportunity to bring you glory by playing in the NFL.”  And I had all kinds of reasons why this would be so great - I could talk about Him on TV, I could use the money I made to help a lot of people, I could reach out to all of my teammates, and so on.  These, I thought, were actually pretty good reasons why it should happen!  But, what I began to pray in light of 2 Corinthians 5 was that God would make it clear to me how I could have the most impact for Him and His kingdom; and if football wasn’t it, I prayed that God would close that door.
Now, back to the story.  I had a great first week of camp with Montreal.  I was still figuring out all of the nuances of Canadian football, but things seemed to be going pretty well.  Then, I got a knock on my door one evening and was told that I was cut from the team.  That was definitely a sad and discouraging day.  My dream had taken a big hit.  However, I had prayed that prayer for God to make things clear for me so many times by then, that I knew this was His answer.  I had other opportunities to continue chasing my football dream, but I believed God shut that door as an answer to my prayer.  I believed (and still believe) He was telling me that I could have more impact for Him and His kingdom by being a minister than by playing football.  As Christians, and as Christian athletes, we are not here on Earth to live out our will or to fulfill all of ourdesires.  We are here to live out God’s will and to fulfill His desires.  He has blessed us with many great talents and we should do our best to use them to glorify Him; but, ultimately, our greatest desire should be for God himself.  In life, the only lasting impact we will have is what we did to build God’s kingdom.  So, how do you bring glory to God through sports?  You play for Him and not for yourself… and at some point he may call you in a different direction.  When this happens, we cannot sacrifice spiritual impact in this world for the sake of fulfilling our own desires.
So, my final message to you is to recognize that you were designed for a purpose! Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  What an incredible verse this is!  Take some time to meditate on it (and even compare it to Jeremiah 1:1-8!).  God created you and he designed you to do good works!  These works are not playing football, or basketball, or running track, or swimming.  These works are the things that build God’s kingdom!  It is clear that God has given us all different gifts and abilities, but our purpose is to know God and to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).  Sports can and does bring glory to God if we do it the right way; but, we were designed for MUCH greater things than playing sports!
In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.  A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put in on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  As an athlete with great opportunity to impact and influence many people, don’t hide your light!  Lives that look the same as everyone else’s, don’t have impact.  God is calling you to have great impact!  While you are playing, and as long as you can play, be a light to your teammates!  You can reach people with God’s love that others can’t reach.  Show people who God is through your life and your example.  Reach out to them, invite them to church, show them the Bible, show them Jesus!  No matter what you are doing or where you are at in life, this is what God calls all of us to do!  Just remember, you were designed for a purpose and that purpose is for God’s glory!
I really appreciate your time in reading these posts.  I am grateful to share my life with you.  I hope this has been both helpful and inspirational.  I pray that your minds will be set on God as you play your sports and that you can experience how awesome it is to live out your purpose in life by bringing glory to God in whatever you do!

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