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The Intersection Between Sports and Faith

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
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February 5, 2021 1:00 am

The Intersection Between Sports and Faith

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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February 5, 2021 1:00 am

Do you find it difficult to live out your faith in your work? On FamilyLife Today, join hosts Dave and Ann Wilson as they talk with ESPN commentator Jason Romano about how to bloom where you are planted.

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During the years that he worked as a producer at ESPN, Jason Romano had a conversation with coach Tony Dunphy that marked his life as a coach stops his Jason understand that your follower of Christ. That's great. And then he asked me the question that changed my life forever. And I really mean this when I say this. He says Jason how do you live your faith out in the workplace here. ESPN I thought there's no way I could be a Christian and live my faith out at a place that was sort of a big business secular typesetting is assistant Jessica comes right up in front of him. She looks at me she goes you don't get it. She's like until you're called away your bloom where you're planted right here. This is your mission field. This is family life today hosts our name and Wilson on Bible pain can find us online and family like talk today about how all of us can bloom where we are planted or is they Wilson likes to say how we can make and where we are sent and welcome to family life today. Thanks for joining us to discuss and proud of you. We've got an ESPN alumnus here with us on family life today and we been talking for a long time and you have not said cover to once I just I'm really proud that you have been able to know Bob Tina covered to insight. I know it has something to do with the defense right yes that's very good right yeah that's about as far as I go on that my wife and he was to deliver the quarterback are all the defense impacts their running heads is basically too high. Safeties on the middle field on the hashes that's covered determines everything what you can run and change your routes anyway were not here to talk about cover to the front of the tower into the past pass rush to events and interviews just lost half the way that we did. It is fun to have somebody from ESPN 17 years Jason Romano work for ESPN no longer works. ESPN he's at a level now we all aspire to. He's an author. He's a podcast there.

He's a MC of ministries and really we didn't mention this before but you're with sports spectrum.

So Jason got Debbie here tells little bit about what you doing these days. I love it. Thanks guys for having me on the show you sports spectrum is the intersection of sports and faith in Jesus and sports spectrum is a minister. It's been around for 35 years telling the stories in the sports world but intersecting it with faith in Christ, and we get to do a lot of interviews, like with David and Wilson on my show and talk about sports and faith. It's really cool how did you become passionate about that that goes back to being a kid sports about the faith part is later in my life. I was 27 when I began my walk with Jesus, but sports was all I cared about in many ways I tell people it was my God because I didn't have a relationship with Jesus when I was a kid. I did go to Catholic Church a little bit here and there, but very rarely out of sort of obligation, but Sundays were about football sometimes bowling. Not until I was 27.

My brother Chris was headed out a really bad path and she's got a hold of him and he did a 180 and his life, and I watched him live this new life out.

I thought he was crazy at first when he became a Christian. What's wrong with this duties in some sort of cult or something, but I watched him for three years, live out his fate and became very attractive and I was curious as to Chris, tell me what really going on here.

He would kind of you know, give me little hints about Jesus and say his church and things like that for me it was just a curiosity. I was really impressed with what happened to him in his life and my life wasn't spiraling out of control from a worldly perspective, got married, moved into our first house got the ESPN job so things were looking good, but I saw what he had and I wanted it and he share the gospel with me on Mother's Day. 2001 the back bedroom of his house. I tell people I had no idea what I was saying yes to what my heart was opened to say yes to it and that was the beginning the start of my relationship and it's been cost almost 20 years now and I haven't reached it or gotten to wherever we want to get to, but I'm just so glad that he did that because it changed my life in your work with sports spectrum. Has there been anybody you've interviewed where was like that little kid could not wait to get to meet this person that there were a super fan boy for Gloria Darryl Strawberry is the guy Darrell wrote forward to my first booklets are forgiven if you met 12-year-old Jason, the walls were covered with barrel strawberry posters.

The notebooks were covered with stats literally at-bats to at-bat to at-bat of what Darryl Strawberry was doing watching WOR New York as a kid. Fast-forward all the way to 2009 and I'm spending the day with Darryl Strawberry at eight at ESPN non-Christian at this point, but I'm not working in ministry. I'm still doing my job at ESPN and Darrell comes and I wanted to spend the day with him talking about the 86 Mets we didn't talk baseball at all for eight hours.

We talked about Jesus. We talked about faith, forgiveness our parents addiction.

All the things it Darryl Strawberry is been through. If you know anything about his story and then fast-forward for five years later, six years later I'm in ministry hosting a show that I am doing and interviewing my childhood hero and were not talking about baseball yet when talking about Jesus.

It's pretty crazy. That is great and yeah so and one of the things he said about your job at ESPN is people come in some of my heroes, but harshly sports figures and leave a mark on death and you just hit on one thing that I did hit me in your book the uniform of leadership about ministry you know and Tony done G and maybe his assistant tell us a story though because I don't guide that was a really interesting perspective to think about what is ministry what isn't ministry tells a story that is, that was a pivotal life-changing moment for me that day and I didn't know what was happening so my job at that point as ESPN. I was a talent producer that was the title but in essence I was the Booker, I was the guy who would book the guests bring them to ESPN and then set their day up and you go through all of the different shows. ESPN honestly has many many many shows like SportsCenter and Mike Amaya can first taken all of the shows NFL live that you would have seen and watched. So I put a schedule together. I knew at that point that I was a follower of Christ, for sure. On 89 years into my walk with the Lord. But I always struggled with what it was like to have my faith brought to the workplace.

I didn't know what that meant, so I always thought church on Sunday.

Maybe life group, small group middle of the week when I went to ESPN. That was my job was ESPN all that church stuff was kinda separate.

I wasn't denying Christ at work. I thought it was separate. "Don't you comes on excited because I know he's a man of faith. Hall of Fame coach, so I knew he was coming he was going to bring Jesus into the conversation just the way the coaches if you ever talk to coach her know anything about coach done G is a gentle giant, but he exudes Christ who Christ is, in my opinion in the way that he talks in the gentle spirit that he is so coaches here he does. Mike and Mike in the morning we find ourselves in this greenroom, which is just a little side office. Boring. This greenroom or just hanging out and his assistant Jessica is there. His publisher, Todd and his co-author Nathan are with him since four people total and those other three are all believers wide kind of relationships with them different projects in the past so they knew that I was Christian, had told coach done G that I was a Christian so coach stops right in the middle lower hanging out in the greenroom that morning and he says Jason I understand your follower of Christ.

That's so cool and she didn't have to do this by the way coach done G does not have to stop and take an interest in me I'm just a nobody.

I'm just a producer at ESPN do my job right. But this is great leadership coach done G's part to actually make every single person around him feel like there with $1 million.

Says Jason. I understand that your follower of Christ. That's great. And then he asked me the question that changed my life forever.

And I really mean this when I say that she sows and nobody's ever asked this question before.

He says Jason how do you live your faith out in the workplace here at ESPN. If you're Christian hundreds. How does that work for you. How do you live your faith out and I was caught off guard and so my answer was deathly not the answer he wanted. I said I don't even know if I can do that coach and I met ESPN if I'm gonna live out my faith. I need to go work for a sports ministry like the Fellowship of Christian athletes or sports spectrum which spoiler alert. I am now what time I wasn't thinking about that. I thought there's no way I could be a Christian and live my faith out at a place like ESPN or any kind of place that was sort of a big business secular typesetting and I could sense he was. Not happy is, shaking his head and he was about to respond before he could, his assistant Jessica comes right up in front of him and I had known Jessica from a couple previous engagements in on different bookings and things like that so she had the permission to be bold in this moment. She comes up with me, puts her hand on her hips and she looks at me she goes you don't get it do you like us just go with what I get and I'm like scared little bit for Menelik with them.

I guess I don't understand what you're trying to say she's like you don't get it. Look where you are working you are at ESPN. There are 3000 employees on this campus that you can impact for Jesus Cynthia.

That's what she said she goes. This is a mission field for you right here at ESPN. She said someday you might be called away to go work in ministry.

And again it happened but she's like until that day happens, your bloom where you're planted right here. This is your mission field. It was like a lightbulb went on in my brain. I said oh my gosh, I get it now I get it out tell you what happened you guys before that day, I would say I was a ESPN producer who happen to be a husband who happened to be a debt that was really the identity that I can align with. After that day. Now again, it's all a process so it takes a little while, but I realized I'm follower of Christ first, who happens to work at ESPN order is important here and that's what happened with me. I went from understanding that wait a minute, Jesus isn't just a piece of my life. He is the centerpiece of all that I am he comes with me to ESPN so when I go to ESPN step in that office every single day.

There's an opportunity to be Jesus to someone in there I'm not Jesus. I'm not saying that but a lot of the people that I came in contact with every day had no idea who Jesus is and so was a great witnessing to.

So how did what you did at ESPN change after that conversation with coach done G goes back to the uniform leadership in some ways I saw the people I worked with us all the work that I did as a more purposeful work, I saw that when I'm doing my work hopefully with excellence are the best that I can do it. I'm representing Jesus, I saw that when I sat down at the cafeteria in the cafeteria with one of my coworkers that I could be Jesus to them I could love and care for them and serve them. I saw that it wasn't about me anymore for many years I was focused on climbing the corporate ladder. Let's see if I can get that next producer job or if I can get that next level that raised that salary and between getting a really bad midyear review which I did write about my book as well and 2008 and coach done G telling me we don't forget your live out your faith in the workplace here at ESPN I realized it's not about me and Bob.

That's where I was struggling as I was taught was about me going to ESPN what is ESPN going to do for me every single day will after coach done G and a few other things take place. I realize wait a minute is back at this whole thing backwards here.

My thing is a privilege to work at this place in my job every day is to come into ESPN and say how can I serve you ESPN not what can ESPN do for me and I mean that's obviously such a huge perspective.

I don't think people in my church believe it when I've said this, but I've said this, but to 50 times in the last 10 years to the congregation. My church that I'm jealous of you because I work in the Christian world. I'm a pastor I go to to the office everyday I'm surrounded by Christians and it's awesome but it's boring the kids you know they all can either all perfect people in you and overall and it's great. I'm not dealing at all, but I think Mama would be like you're right to walk in the workplace and be surrounded by non-Christians and course most of us think all that be horrible. I think all in all happy Debbie mission like I get to be the light of Jesus in ESPN or you know of a factory or a doctor has. I mean I do. I'm not can I get jealous thinking will and you got that perspective like this job is bigger than just what I'm doing.

ESPN is the people I got put them around me that I'm supposed to represent clients tell Jason how you say that you don't say bloom where you're planted yeah boom I replanted was in your book in a great phrase. I've always said make a dent where your scent.

All I like that here. Here's the thing that I like that. That is were sent to make a dent networking I get it from Tommy boy Mark first got Mark and Mike everywhere got send you you want to leave a mark, a good mark right but there is a thing that happens when I use that at our church to make it that were sent people come up every time.

Say hey got a question I know where your scent, your pastor, I know he said he's a missionary she's a measure I don't know where I'm sent here at the profound answer is your scent where you are.

Yeah, that's what Tony done G was telling you in a sense where you are is your calling this counsel different but at that point it was ESPN and other forget I did a chapel message for alliance years ago with the three eyes of a coated three eyes of workmanship or mission and on their forget and you've just illustrated psych as a pro athlete. Everybody's watching you for your follow Christ.

I used to say guys he just came in the chapel. The guys that are here watching you.

Now they saw you walk in this room there watching as this can make any difference. And I said the three eyes are this is a follower of Christ. You should work with an intensity that's remarkable because I used to hear coaches in the NFL say I don't want Christian player because God's number one and the jobs not that important. I was, I want to be the guy well alloyed every coaching FL should be saying I want to Christian player could just as I work everybody early classes 323 yeah, it's like their date.

They dictate their job so seriously because they're not playing for kosher plan above that yet. The second I was integrity that year year life matches your word and people in the locker room can trust you and then the third one is what you just said intentionality that I'm live in in the sense that this is my calling to be intentional about when God gives me opportunities at ESPN a minute make him known that you know and that's what you discovered. I don't think most of us understand that neither neither. I mean, I have been a Christian for nine years after that point before coach done G asked me a question I didn't realize. Wait a minute. This is just a job that I'm going to and I enjoyed my job by the way, I loved working at ESPN.

Prior to that moment with coach done G and I loved it even more after because I knew I got to do a job that I enjoy to get to work in the toy department of the world as I call it like the sports world are you kidding me, but now it became more purposeful work and on every sink like I actually really miss them. The one thing I miss about working at ESPN is the people and being around people who art the same as me and all think the same and do not follow any kind of religion. In some cases or open about it and I miss that kind of standing out a little bit. Being able to talk to them about different conversations you know I'm in ministry now to and so I get like working around and I love the team I work with. I really do and I I wouldn't trade any of them for the world and things are not born Christians are pouring some Gumby but not boring at all, but I do miss being around others who think differently and I try to actually intentionally have conversations with a lot of people.

Whether it's for social media or even just meeting up at different places that aren't followers of Christ to just come to hear the perspective and talk to them and be able to witness the event and the amazing thing we are doing it now in a different way rank is your broadcaster podcast is influencing non-church non-Christian people and that's why you do it because they are interested in sports, lives in you using a platform to say I may not be sit in an office beside you, but man were impacting your life right now right. It starts with where we talked earlier about putting the jersey on correctly and ED that the first thing in the morning I okay I need to make sure as you said before I think Jesus is first serve him before I serve myself today I tried to we all mess that up obviously but you know I just this past year in 2020 and thinking about discipline.

You know everything was kind of taken away from us within the pandemic right in terms of all that took place in quarantining in all that you know I recognized us to.

This is also an opportunity know this might be horrible situation for a lot of people, but this is also an opportunity to come out of this different as followers of Christ. And so for me I actually tried to get. I mess up occasionally. So I'm not perfect but I tried to make sure that the first 30 every 30 minutes every morning was with him and so I would spend time listening to worship music or even just shutting down the phone and just and sometimes I'm going for walks in on doing this but just praying spending a quiet time like that has to be now it's almost become habit formed in a good way where you have to have that time in the morning.

The quiet time with God when I don't have that water revocation or things got can I get out of whack.

You feel it. You feel that and so I think that if I'm going to talk about being a leader and talk about especially leaving in my house, but also leading others are writing a book about leadership. I got a be accountable to myself to cycling to make sure that my priorities straight. Yet one of the stories that hit me about that was you turning down the opportunity to be a producer because of how it would affect your family, that this is 2008 and in I mentioned earlier I had a really bad midyear review. So I ESPN to give reviews save a midyear review in the middle of the year and at the end of the year, you're either on the right track moving ahead or you know, I forget the third one but it's like these these levels that they kinda qualify you wet in terms of your work and they evaluate you, and you sometimes get a little bit of a razor Bob all you get 3% raise for your review or whatever that midyear review in 2008 that was scathing was that Jason is all focused on himself.

He doesn't care about his teammates. He's focused on the next job or not the job. It is currently working on getting paid for only options I was there it was that it was a wall.

It was an eye-opener was a true it was.

Yeah, I'm not the time I didn't think it was like no you should've told me this, I was just trying to every else is doing. And you know get the next job at ESPN, but it was true.

I was so focused on Jason and wearing that uniform backwards, but I will say that same year I had this opportunity and I wrote about me and this this woman and Carol going after this manager job in the middle of 2008 and Carol was 26 at the time I was probably 34.

I think a more experienced sound like there's no way that Carol's going at this job over me. So I went in there with my chest out, thinking I'm good here.

Carol got the job and he talked about humbling like I was like whoa okay so I thought I deserved this. Carol and I because we had such a great relationship as coworkers we agreed no matter who was sitting at this job that we were to support each other and we did and so Carol got the job is all right. I could either be the bad guy, the bully here or I can just serve and be a support to you so I'm here for you. However, I can help however I can serve so Carol was working with me on having this potential to become a producer at ESPN and all that the title untucked with the title producer. Producer is a general term that we can all use for all the behind-the-scenes people with his actual title called producer.

One that is a level that a lot of people strive towards and I was trying to go there and I have this opportunity to become a producer one in the summer of two 2008 and it was about $30,000 pay increase.

When you get that job. It sort of. It raises up in my opinion the level of how people view you in the work that you do right so I was all set to do it and then I remember one day going in in they called it shadowing.

I would go in and out shadow another producer and see what this job can be like, and it was like five in the afternoon till three in the morning it was Wednesday through Sunday weekends and it was not clamorous at all but it was an opportunity to get this bump in pay right in this race and I remember going in the shadow.

I thought took was one day the next day I came in I said to Carol I said I don't think I'm to be a producer. One was why was from. I said I see what's happening here.

If I take this job, which they didn't offer me the job. Actually, I just assumed they were turning me toward it. I submitted they offer his job and I take it I will never see my daughter and my opinion on the receiver shall be in school during the day and on the weekends I'm working and I'm there and I said she's four years old at that point is if I take this job, there's a very good chance that I might be stuck in this job for the next 5 to 10 years, however they want me to be in his job and they control my hours. I can say that you guys need to work 9 to 5 today, Monday through Friday and I can do nothing to do that sports doesn't happen between 9 to 5 Monday through Friday. It happens. Nights and weekends, so I made a point I made a choice and I were going to a few the bosses and saying listen I don't think I'm in a continue my training to become a producer one Mesa will call, since I can't take the chance of not being able to be around my kit and missing the next 10 years of her life and they look to me like you won't miss the exit you can't guarantee me that.

Can you and they said we can't guarantee that you can work the hours that you may want to work but will do our best. Unlike, I just can't.

I'm sorry for back the next day. Carol said to me, what can I do for you to help your life be better so that you can be around her child change my life. I said I work on the NFL, but can I work Sunday through Thursday.

Can I work 75 during the week or 85 and then come home at night me with my kid and they she said the absolutely let's make that happen. And so I didn't get the $30,000 raise, but I look back now and I did not miss my kid and I was always there for her being able to be, you know, in the most pivotal moment. So I think in her life especially when she needed to add because I don't have a dad that was around are available so I want to make sure that she had what I couldn't have if it meant not getting a $30,000 raise increase job title, prestige, whatever you recall I don't regret that by the way, one, one iota and other people maybe do. I don't know for me I had to make a choice and I'm guessing your daughter maybe maybe I'm wrong to see, even though they made that choice.

She does place which you won't read my book the ceiling. Now she's a teenager I don't know she doesn't read anything like Cecelia now had he made that decision and taken that The ceiling had a relationship with you and in leadership is all the little behind the scene decisions that literally change people's lives would go. That is a big decision that was that I look back now and I recognize it on my daughter 16 and she's fighting like whatever that effect which is pretty much the response I got everything whatever it but outward she's 24, 25, and we can sit on really and she maybe gets married and has kids of her own. She sees and understands. It is these little moments in these decisions that you can make in your life that can make the difference between who knows, maybe not even being able to have a relationship with her right to know and that was big for me especially when I went through my own bed. Just don't do what Dave Wilson would do and go door and say you know you only 300,000 as I now measure piggybacks on this synthetic you for being with us these.

These are great leadership principles for mom's dad for every one of us. I only have died thank you thank you Jason's book again is called the uniform of leadership lessons on true success from my ESPN life.

We get copies of the book available to you in our family like today resource Center you can request your copy or you can call to order one 800, FL, today is our number so again get a copy of Jason Romano's book the uniform of leadership order or call to order one 803 586-329-1800 F as in family L as in life, and then the word today and I wish our listeners could be here each week as we get letters here at family life from listeners get emails that folks send them people who tell us the conversation you had on this particular subject.

On this particular day guide use that in my life in a dramatic way. It was exactly what I needed to hear. I've made the changes I but I pivoted out I was reminded of what's true, I'm starting to live that out that there are people whose lives are headed in a different direction, today because God used family life to a to interact with them and I just want to say thank you to those of you were not only listeners to family life to a but the financial supporters of this ministry. Those of you who may have been impacted by this ministry yourself and you want to make sure others receive the same benefit. Those of you who support us financially with a one-time donation or on a monthly basis as legacy partners. We are so grateful for you.

We talked earlier this week about the issue of pornography and the league pandemic that exists in our culture around pornography.

Joe Rigney was our guest in his book, which is called more than a battle were making that book available as a thank you gift this week to any of you who can support the work of family life to you can make your donation or you can call one 800 FL today to donate.

This book is an important book for every person to read because all of us with the work struggling with this issue are not were interacting with people who are, and this book gives guidance on how to break free from the bondage that so many experience when it comes to pornography in the title of the book is more than a battle. It's our gift to you. When you make a donation to support family life to this week and thanks in advance for that donation. Donate online at family life to date on, call one 800 FL today and we hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are somehow able to worship together with your local church this weekend and I hope you can join us back on Monday when you talk football again. The little bit disturbing gray who used to play in the NFL as can be with us as a pastor, now North Carolina. He's written a book looking at what makes up the good life and it's different than what you might imagine.

So join us as we talk about that on Monday I want to thank our engineer today.

Keith Lynch got some help from Justin Adams this week as well on behalf of our hosts Dave and Ann Wilson on Bob Lapine see you back next time for another edition of family life today. Family life to a is a production of family life of Little Rock, Arkansas crew ministry help for today hope for tomorrow

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