138 Dirksen Drive, DeBary, FL US 32713
Football was my passion during my teen years at Norwin High School in the hills east of Pittsburgh. I had this dream of being a college football player, but I didn’t shoot for the NFL. I am 5’11”, although my little brother Owen insists I’m only 5’10”. Simply put, I am undersized and under-skilled, but my ultimate goal was to be a college football quarterback. My training regimen was ridiculous; in the summers I worked out twice, maybe three times a day from my junior year of high school into my college football career. I worked out at Norwin Speed and Strength Academy, the field house, on the football field, in my neighborhood, in my basement… I worked out anywhere I could. I busted my behind for years to become something everyone else thought I couldn’t be. I looked up to Tim Tebow a lot. In an interview, he stated that after each workout, he would ask himself, “Was I the hardest working athlete in the nation today?” So, that’s what I asked myself. And in my mind, I was. I knew no matter how hard the person next to me was working, I was working harder than him or her.
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.” – Ecclesiastes 9:10 (ESV)
“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” – Proverbs 13:4 (ESV)
In college, I dedicated myself to the art of work; I was the first one in the locker room or on the field and the last to leave. I was lifting with the linemen and running with the running backs. My work ethic was astounding!
But I failed.
Over the course of my two seasons as quarterback at Kentucky Christian University, I played in only six games and started only one. I threw only two touchdown passes to three interceptions, and I had only 422 yards of passing. In my mind, I failed. I changed positions, and actually ended up being good at defense, got an all-conference and all-American award but…
I failed at my dream of being a college QB.
During my sophomore year, I switched positions in football, and I started to hate it. However, opportunities began to open up for me to get involved in art again. My friend asked me to do a painting live during one of his music sets, but I declined. Never done it. Too easy to fail. I wanted no part of it, but he bribed me with Taco Bell, so I accepted.
This is where the head fake comes in. Though we make our own goals, dreams and plans, God always has bigger and better ones for us.
We often don’t see it in the moment, but God is using every experience to build the bigger picture of our lives.
When I played football, I didn’t learn football – I learned teamwork, sportsmanship, and work ethic. I learned to passionately love working toward something great. This was my opportunity to take the values I learned in sports and apply them to a completely new venture.
At the concert, I painted two of the most hideous pictures of my life. They were awful, but being up there, in front of people, painting the canvas – it just felt so right. In fact, on the back of those foam board canvases, I even wrote, “This could be the start of something wonderful.”
That was three years ago. I applied my work ethic, my hustle, my grit, and my grind that I learned from football to painting pictures and working toward my ministry. I head faked myself. I thought I was learning to be a great football player, but God had something more for me. Now, I am painting for the Pittsburgh Penguins during games, and the paintings have been featured on WTAE, NHL Network, The Post-Gazette, and more. Most importantly, I get to teach my youth group students about Jesus every single week and my painting is allowing me new platforms to share the Gospel!
Here is my advice: hustle as hard as you possibly can in whatever you are doing at this very moment. Colossians 3:23 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not human masters.” I wanted to be a college quarterback, but I didn’t make it there. Sometimes, hard work and dedication won’t always allow you to achieve the things you chase at this moment. But none of it is wasted, because God uses it for his purposes in his plans for your life. I learned how to dedicate myself, discipline myself, and be an excellent worker.
The last head fake?
This post isn’t about dreams. It’s about how to live your life – a life full of God-honoring work.