As you watch the Superbowl this year, ponder for a moment what we as Christian men at work can learn from Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady and 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
You probably know who these two men are. I say that because I know who they are even though I’m such a non-sports fan at this stage in my life that I watched a total of half a game of football all season.
I know who they are because they’ve both been in the news for reasons other than football.
Although he’s an accomplished quarterback in the NFL, taking the 49ers to the Superbowl in 2013, Colin Kaepernick is probably best known for something he did earlier this year.
Motivated by alleged oppression of black people and other non-white races, Kaepernick gained national attention when he began protesting the United States National Anthem by not standing when the anthem was being played before the start of games.
Tom Brady is considered by many to be one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL History. In his 15 seasons as starter, the Patriots have earned seven trips to the Superbowl, the most for any quarterback in history, winning four titles.
Like Kaepernick, however, Brady has also become known by something other than his accomplishments throwing the football.
Brady is a long time friend and supporter of President Donald Trump, and at one point during the Presidential campaign donned one of Trumps now famous “Make America Great Again” ball caps.
Both men have been criticized for their political statements. I won’t get into my political beliefs and how they affect my take on the statements these men have made or the reaction of the press to them. I do, however, think there are at least four lessons that all Christian men can learn from the experiences of these two men.
Our Work Can Be Used For Something More Than Our Job Description
Both Kaerpernick and Brady have used their jobs for something other than what they were hired for.
Though their employers never hired them to use their positions to make political statements, both have done so.
You could argue that Brady is the more reluctant of the two in making a political statement and has since tried to avoid the mostly negative spotlight relating to his association with President Trump brought on by the liberal media.
The fact that he’s an unwilling “political activist” even further makes the point that even if we don’t intentionally try to use our jobs for something other than our job description, our position itself can sometimes contribute to us doing just that.
I’m not saying whether we should or should not use our jobs for something other than our job description, but it’s clear that it can be done and all men have the ability to do so.
The Old Adage is True, Kind Of
The old adage “Never Talk About Politics or Religion in Polite Company (or at work)” has perhaps never been more widely known and practiced than in today’s politically correct culture.
I say this adage is true, “kind of”, because I believe the premise of the statement, but not the statement itself.
The premise of the statement is that you shouldn’t talk about these two topics because they are likely to offend someone and potentially cause strife, two things that generally are thought to be avoided in the workplace where we have to be around each other all day long and have a job to do.
I agree with the premise to the extent that this is a legitimate reason not to talk about religion and politics at work.
I don’t agree, however, that we should necessarily follow this advice, at least without some caveat.
These are both immensely important topics and as such should be talked about, I would argue more than relatively unimportant “small talk” topics that generally consume our conversations all day long.
In addition, these topics are already being talked about in the news, entertainment industry, and on our cell phones every single day.
The first amendment of our constitution gives us freedom of speech and that should not be limited by an old adage or by a politically correct culture.
Having said that, how we speak about these topics is another matter. No matter how high the retoric can get on Twitter and other places, we should follow the Bible’s advice from Colossians 4:6 “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
We should also be respectful of the wishes of our employer in this area.
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” – Romans 13:1 (NKJV)
“Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ” – Ephesians 6:5 (NKJV)
There’s a Big Difference Between Public and Private Statements
Though Brady was more reluctant to be in the spotlight to share his political beliefs, perhaps, than Kaepernick was, both men chose to make a public statement.
If either or both men had chosen to only speak privately in a one-on-one setting about the same topic, it would have had a much different impact.
I’m not saying it would have been better or worse, or even that it would have had less of an impact, only that it would have had a much different impact.
We should realize there’s a big difference between sharing our faith in a one-on-one setting, privately, with a co-worker vs. making a public statement of faith.
I’m not saying which is right or wrong. I will say that Jesus practiced both. He spoke to large crowds and boldly declared the truth, but He also often spoke to individuals as well as groups of two or three.
It’s also worth noting that Jesus spent a lot of his face time helping others at their point of need. This, perhaps should be our greatest model to follow when we’re in the workplace.
Your Work Should Speak For Itself But It Might Not
Despite the undesired attention brought to their employers by their political statements, both Kaepernick and Brady are employed today in the same job they had prior to making their statements.
The primary reason for that, I believe, is that they have continued to do the job they were hired to do, throwing the football and winning games.
If we choose to mix our faith and our work, we should always remember not to let it prevent us from fulfilling our job responsibilities. In fact, we should have such a strong work ethic that we inspire our employer to hire more Christians in order to get similar results.
We should not be so naive, though to think that we might not pay a price for being true to our beliefs.
Though they haven’t lost their jobs, both Kaepernick and Brady have paid a price in the negative reaction they’ve received from fans and media reports.
Similarly, when we’re at work we’re not going to be surrounded by all like minded people as we are at church and as such we will get some negative reactions, either spoken or unspoken, if we express our faith.
We would do well to remember Luke 14:28 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it”.
Make sure that whatever choices you make at work, you count the cost ahead of time, let your speech be filled with grace, and know the reason for the choices you make.