Friday, December 16, 2011

It's Tebow Time

As a Gator, Tebow shook hands with the fans after every game.

Yep, I’m a Tim Tebow fan. Look, he’s from Jacksonville and led the Florida Gators (my alma mater) to win two national championships. Of course I think he’s amazing. Get over it. Besides, these days it looks like I’m not the only one (finally!).

Don’t get me wrong: it’s not like I’m going to go around the mall “Tebowing” every time I see a good sale (although I do reserve the right to take a knee in the middle of The Buckle if I should find a really great pair of Miss Me jeans, in my size, marked down by 75%).

Hard work pays off...
Anyway, you have to admit the guy’s got a tremendous work ethic. How else can you explain that  physique on a quarterback, for heaven’s sake? I mean, Mercy. I hear he lifts Ford Expeditions five times a week as part of his workout routine and runs 25 miles a day. Backwards. Or something like that….

So it should come as no surprise to learn that I have watched all the Tebow documentaries that ESPN has recently been showing around the clock. One piece in particular, “The Chosen One”, caused me to stop and reflect more on his parents than Tim and his notable football skills. This film followed Tebow’s junior and senior football seasons with Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, FL (which is a suburb of Jacksonville, and was one of the schools my high school played on a regular basis - a little shout out to the 1984 graduating class of West Nassau High School: Go Warriors!)

The interesting thing about watching documentaries in retrospect is that you get the benefit of knowing how the story ends. What’s cool about the Tebow story, though, is the realization that this kid has remained true to himself and his family’s values throughout the years. The fact that Tebow is devout in his religious beliefs is not something he developed for the cameras – this intense faith has been instilled in him since before he was even born. His father tells us that while he was working as a missionary in the Philippines, he prayed that if God gave him a son, he would name him “Timothy”, meaning “God’s honor”. Bob Tebow promised God that he would raise Tim to be a preacher, which he did. Tim followed his father on mission trips overseas and ministered to children at his father’s orphanage in the Philippines. This young man was not being groomed for the NFL as a child.

However, when the Tebows recognized Tim’s penchant for football (during his Pop Warner days, no less), they decided to work with their son’s God-given talents and encouraged him to develop his skills on and off the field. Instead of trying to make Tim fit into their mold, they helped him become the best he could be at what they believed God wanted him to be.

Wow. What if all parents took this approach to parenting? What if, instead of telling our kids what they should like, we let them show us and then we actually provided them with the tools and support they needed to develop their talents? What if, instead of claiming we’re too tired or busy (which, of course we are, but is that really a fair excuse?) we agreed to drive them to that next practice or workout or game or performance? What if we decided that it’s not where we spend our time together that’s important, just simply the fact that we do spend time together, supporting each other, that counts?

Pam and Bob Tebow have always been motivated by their strong faith in God, but, while I don’t see anything wrong with such unshakable faith, I also don’t think we all have to be ministers in order to raise great kids. And, make no mistake about it, Tebow was a great kid, and, as an adult, is an amazing leader and role model. I have no doubt his parents are proud of him, but not just because of his game stats (we’ll let Elway and Fox reap the benefits of those amazing feats). Undoubtedly, his parents must be pleased with the manner in which Tim has chosen to remind himself – and the world – that there is a higher order that is more important than either him or football. And that is a reminder we could all use from time to time.

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