It’s official The Florida Gators are the 2009 College Football Championships! Go Gators. The first half of play by the Gators was a bit iffy, but they gathered themselves during half-time, and came back to thrash a strong but unpolished Oklahoma Sooners. Beyond the game, though there was one other star of the evening who stood out head-and-shoulders above anyone else: and that’s Tim Tebow.
It’s just phenomenal the respect this guy engenders from the Gator Nation, the student body of the University of Florida, coaches, teammates, fans, commentators and other observers of football, alike. On top of that he’s been the recipient of all sorts of awards and honors and accolades, including the prestigious Heisman Trophy Award. He’s considered one of the best players in in College football, period. But one particular comment during tonight’s game, caught my attention: when one of the game’s commentators remarked at how much missionary and humanitarian work Tebow has done in some of the poorest countries in the world, including Croatia, Thailand and the Phillipines, where Tebow was born.
But the thing that surprised me, was that the commentator was so amazed at all the humanitarian work Tebow had done so far yet he’s only 21. And here’s why I was surprised at the commentator’s awe: compared to other College-age Christians Tebow is not that exceptional. He is part of what I like to refer to as the ‘Missionary Generation’ that is sweeping America: This generation is made up of scores of talented and bright Christians who are are giving up opportunites to go to some of the most prestigious colleges, for the chance to go to unknown Christian Colleges all over America- and to be around other young people who share their passion for God.
They’re giving up their Spring breaks and Summers to serve the poor in Costa Rica, and to carry rubble and debris in New Orleans, and to dig wells in Africa. And they’re setting a new standard for everyone around them.
They’re some of the most talented individuals, who are turning their backs on the most attractive careers, and are heading straight into missionary work. And here I’m using the term ‘missionary work’ very broadly. I’m referring to the most general and broadest aspects of the term.
But one thing is clear; these passionate lovers of God are a new breed and live by a radical new standard.
Instead of going into corporate America, and the normal hunt for riches and materialism, they are choosing careers as foreign missionaries, community developers who are starting their own non-profit organizations and businesses, and choosing to work as staff at other Christian organizations and Churches. They’re putting their gifts to work in the kingdom in the most creative and innovative ways.
And it made me proud to see these young people get such a public nod, for when the commentators praised Tim Tebow for his humanitarian work, they were also saluting the sacrifices of this missionary gnereation.
And the best part of all? This missionary generation is not only made up of Christian College Students. It includes next-gen pastors, social entrepreneurs, like Jamie Tworkowski of TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS, and Blake Mycoskie of TOMS Shoes. It also includes, stars like Catherine Rohr who gave up a career on Wall Street to work with Prisoners in Texas, and leaders like Louie Giglio and Gabe Lyons, and visionaries like Cameron Strang of RELEVANT Magazine. As well as the numerous Christian bloggers like Anne Jackson, doing their thing and showing people where life can be found; and the countless young leaders leaving corporate America to plant Churches and give birth to new cultures. And the many many others like them, who are abandoning the corporate ladder, and starting their own ladders, and their own movements, that are birthed in their passion to impact this generation with the truth.
So, by all accounts it seems that Tim Tebow has emerged as the face of this subversive movement that is changing the spiritual landscape of North America. Who would have thought, you could influence others simply by playing college football.