A great deal is being written about football, both at the NFL and college levels, and that will continue. The NFL playoffs are generating tremendous interest and that will be followed by the Super Bowl. Of course recruiting will also be a hot topic through signing day on the third of this month. That will be followed by weeks of evaluations of the signing classes by the schools. In Alabama, the SEC schools will be the topic of conversation. The classes signed by Auburn and Alabama will be described daily. We will be hearing lots of talk about “stars,” with the emphasis being on 5-stars. Sometimes it’s good to step back and look at football in a different perspective.
I read an article written on Jan. 13 by Jeff Shearer featuring Dr. Rob Pate, a four-year starter for Auburn, who graduated in May of 2002. Rob was a great player making All-SEC as a safety and is now an optometrist. He has been very successful in his professional life. Rob and his wife Dana have five children.
Rob spoke at a banquet on the night before the 29th Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game played in December in Hattiesburg, Miss. His audience was made up of 80 of the best senior football players in Alabama and Mississippi, along with their parents and coaches. Rob’s message was one that all young folks need to hear. While he shared lessons learned in athletics, Rob also shared his strong faith openly and without reservation. Interestingly, Rob had played in the All-Star game 18 years ago, serving as captain for his team. Significantly, Rob did not spend his 10 minutes discussing his own athletic career, but instead gave a message to the audience that is much more important, especially to the young All-Stars.
Rob made 10 points during his speech and I will list them for your edification. Rob said: “First and more importantly, center your life around God; choose your friends wisely; be your own advocate; have fun and stay hungry; expect change because it will come; expect adversity because it will come; keep in touch with your teammates from this game; keep in touch with your families, your high school coaches and teammates; from this point forward, consider yourself on a long-term job interview; and have an eternal perspective.” Rob had lots to say under each of his 10 points. I encourage you to get Jeff’s article and read it.
I am told the players listened to every word spoken by Rob Pate. They could identify with him and that is extremely important. Jeff Shearer had this to say about Rob’s talk: “In his 10-minute address, Pate’s 10-point presentation so captivated the crowd, it was as if he were the quarterback in the huddle in the final minute of a tie game.” Jeff called the talk “a teachable moment for the All-Stars.” Most all of these young athletes will go on to play in college. Looking back, I wish I had heard a talk like this before I headed off to my first year in college.
My prayer today is for more men and women like Dr. Rob Pate, who are willing to share their faith with young people and are not hesitant to do it. A person like Rob Pate – a former athlete – who has been successful after graduating, can motivate and inspire youngsters. It’s very important for young people to hear the message the 80 All-Stars heard from Rob. I encourage each of us to be encouragers and especially for youngsters. God will bless our efforts. These verses will help us.
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. Hebrews 6:19
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. Romans 8:5
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