A lot of the readers out there including myself grew up as NFL wannabees. We worked hard when we were young and continued that work through high school and maybe your hard work took you to college to play. Either way, that dream lived for a lot of us to one day get into the big show, the NFL. Just yesterday, my pastor turned me onto the amazing testimony of Jason Hanson, the place kicker for the Detroit Lions. No matter what your thoughts are of the Lions, you have to give respect for this gentleman. I looked up some of his statistics: Over the course of his 20-year NFL career, he holds the NFL record for most games played with one team. He holds the NFL record for most 50+yard field goals. He also is tied or the most 50+ yard field goals in a single season. He is the first player in NFL history to score 2,000 points with one franchise and has the most career games with one team. His consistency and his accuracy defy reason. He is the first kicker in NFL history to go 8-for-8 on 50+yard field goals in a single season. He holds NFL record making 24 consecutive field goals of 40+ yards. Amazingly, after the 2010 NFL season, Hanson has only missed eight extra points in his 20 year career! In addition, he can be counted on when the game is on the line, accounting for 17 game-winning field goals.
Here is his thoughts on all that:
I’ve had a wonderful career. I’ve been to two Pro Bowls. I’ve kicked several game winning field goals. I’m proud to have been with the Detroit Lions my entire career, and I want to finish well.
My greatest struggle is not the pressure of making the kick when the game is on the line, or driving the ball deep on kickoffs. Actually, my greatest struggle has nothing to do with my performance on the field, or dealing with all the external elements. It’s an internal struggle. It has to do with not allowing my identity to be dependent on my performance.
God has used football and kicking to shape me. I don’t know how I could kick without my faith. God has given me ability and a mind to use. I find peace in knowing that. I train as hard as I can. I execute my technique as perfectly as I can. And if I miss, I know that God still cares for me and has a plan for me, and my identity does not depend upon a field goal.
Which is not to say that a missed field goal does not bother me. It does. If I miss, I’m more upset than anyone. But even if I lead the NFL in humiliation, I know that my hope is not tied up in what happens on the football field.
I grew up in a Christian family. I was a decent guy, and never visited the wrong side of the tracks. I didn’t come to Christ because I had hit the bottom. In fact, my story is somewhat the opposite. God worked through my success to draw me closer to Him. Success can be as big a test as failure. I began to experience how good it was to succeed. I was a consensus All-American my sophomore year at Washington State. I’ve signed nice contracts. I have a certain amount of celebrity. But I’ve discovered it’s all empty. It can’t satisfy. The greatest despair in life comes from reaching your dream and discovering that’s all there is.
I’ve always liked the Bible story of the rich young ruler, who had everything a person could want – fortune, good reputation, power and influence – but he was missing the most critical thing – a relationship with God.
Over the years, as I tasted success and found it empty, I have become more and more convinced that everything the Bible says is true, and Jesus is exactly who He says He is. In fact, I’ve based my entire life on Jesus being who He says He is – the Savior of the world.
Jesus said, “Come, follow Me.” And I have. And in Him alone I have found peace. Having a relationship with Jesus Christ is something you can always rely on. I’m going to make mistakes, maybe miss a kick or whatever, but I know no matter what, I have my relationship with Christ. And that’s the most important thing of all.
Great stuff! Do you think Jason claims that he is the hero of the story, or someone a lot bigger? Most see his fortune, cars, and big house and believe it is only the skill and money. Jason also has a marriage that lasts from 1992 and 3 children. It makes one think. No matter what you think of God and His Savior, you can’t deny the evidence. You must get around people like Jason to truly see if it is real. But where? I get this opportunity with my friend and mentor, Bill Lewis . He has all the success one would like, but consistently gives God the glory. I would compel you to look into the depths of the Life Company. Not the surface, but the heart is where the meaning lies. They welcome your presence and your desire to be more.
God bless, Aron
Steel the mind and Tender the heart.