Feature

Tebow: How faith leads to victory

Tebow's quiet, unshakable, confidence that everything will work out for the best inspires a high degree of optimism among his teammates.

Tim Tebow may be a miracle worker, said Andrew Sullivan in TheDailyBeast.com, but he’s not a very good Christian. The devoutly religious Denver Broncos quarterback with the ugly throwing motion has become a national sensation by leading his team to six wins in the last seven games—all through jaw-dropping, act-of-God comebacks in the final minutes. Tebow, however, has become a divisive figure in the nation’s culture wars, by flaunting his faith at every opportunity: thanking Jesus in every interview, pointing to Heaven after every touchdown, and spending so much time in prayer on the sideline in his signature prayer-pose—bowing his head, kneeling on one knee. Sorry, but this is not how Jesus instructed followers to act. In the Bible, Jesus says that believers should “be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men”; those who pray in public view, He warns, “will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” So why do Christians regard Tebow as a hero?

Tebow’s an evangelical, said Patton Dodd in The Wall Street Journal, and evangelicals follow Jesus’ other instruction, that you shouldn’t “hide your light under a bushel.” Furthermore, Tebow backs up his piety with actions. Off the field, he spends his free time building hospitals, fund-raising for orphanages, and working with the poor. Somehow, being such a “straight arrow” has become controversial, said Rich Lowry in NationalReview​.com. What a sad indictment of our cynical culture that “a player who embodies everything meant by the cliché ‘role model’ is for his critics a figure of fun, or even hatred.”

I wish Tebow would tone down the God stuff, said Daniel Engber in Slate.com, because it’s “making me question my atheism.” Tebow is a “mediocre quarterback,” playing for a lousy Broncos team that had a 1-4 record before he took over its huddle. What has happened since then defies all rational explanation. You need not share Tebow’s faith to see that it’s a big part of his success, said Frank Bruni in The New York Times. In dire situations that would discourage most other players, Tebow has a quiet, unshakable confidence that everything will work out for the best. His teammates are inspired by this, and more often than not, it does work out. Optimism matters—a lot. That’s a lesson all of us can learn from Tim Tebow’s weekly miracles.

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