We have all seen and heard the powerful images. A ballet-graceful player at full extension grabs a tightly thrown pass and runs down a field and scores a touchdown. He drops to a knee and prays. A young football team readies themselves for a Friday night game and you hear the coaches shout, ‘Whose Name?’. The young men shout back ‘HIS NAME! Football and faith have always had an intimate relationship. There have been a number of professional athletes and coaches, past and present, who didn’t shy away from the subject of faith.
Jonathan Stewart is one such player. His source of employment is serving as a running back for the Carolina Panthers. His lifetime vocation is being a servant if God.
Watch the video below and you can see God’s purpose in his life.
I was given the grace to ask Jonathan a few candid questions. He answered them honestly, with a heart filled with grace.
Elev8: What helps you hold onto your faith?
Jonathan Stewart: By staying in the word of God as often as possible and having people around me to hold me accountable!
Elev8: What inspired ‘God First Family Then Football’?
Jonathan Stewart: God First Family Then Football was inspired Tiffani Lewis, president of SCSM. Hope is the base of SCSM’s clothing designs and brand message. The saying is simple yet has so much meaning which describes my life and a lot of other football players lives. The inspiration draws from the simple fact that without God in my life, nothing is possible. The meaning of family is much greater when its centered around God! And playing and excelling in football is obviously a gift that God has blessed me with. He gets all the glory!
Elev8: How do you stay humble in a field where belief can be pushed to the side for the sake of winning?
Jonathan Stewart: I make it a point to remind myself that God calls us to be humble. We can’t live this life on our own. Nothing is self made everything is God made. So our duty is to serve, inspire and strive to be a positive example.
Elev8: How do you suggest people reorder their lives? Where do they begin?
Jonathan Stewart: Start with a self reflection of our life and the things that God has brought you through and the blessings He’s given you. Then ask yourself am I living my life for His glory or for my own glory?
Elev8: How do you keep focused on serving God? What do you advise men do in their faith walk, that they are not necessarily doing? How do we foster that in our young men?
Jonathan Stewart: Birds of a feather flock together. Surround yourself with people that desire to grow in a positive way and that aren’t afraid to be themselves and will also hold you accountable from time to time. Iron sharpens iron.
Elev8: There is tons of temptation and wrong living in the NFL. How do you keep a strong accountability circle?
Jonathan Stewart: My accountability circle is pretty strong. My mom, brother, friends and teammates all hold me accountable personally and professionally and I strive to do the same for them.
Elev8: What do you want people to know about you that you never get to share?
Jonathan Stewart: I play piano pretty well. ESPN recently let that cat out the bag on Twitter haha!
Elev8: What is your scripture mantra?
Jonathan Stewart: Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. To me this scripture means you have to do your part! Yes, God will give you strength to endure all things but its also up to us to trust that and get the job done.
We should all remember – God first in all that we do. Jonathan has it right.
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