Are you ready to be first-round draft pick for Jesus Christ?
Matthew 4: 18-22 – Jesus Calls His First Disciples
“As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
“Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”
God uses you with your strengths and weaknesses
For my son Anton, the NFL Draft was always Christmas Day.
For several years while working as a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, I covered the Green Bay Packers as the team's draft unfolded with coverage from Lambeau Field.
When I got home, I would be inundated with questions.
After another stint covering Packers drafts, this time as sports editor of The Post-Crescent in Appleton, Wisconsin, my son’s passion intensified. He would watch video of prospects and read reports while preparing his own first-round mock drafts.
It served his career interests until the coronavirus struck.
He was the assistant general manager of the Tucson (Arizona) Sugar Skulls of the Indoor Football League before the league canceled its 2020 season.
He was laid off as sports nationwide grounded to a halt.
But the latest edition of the NFL Draft – one of the only sports functions to occur in the United States since mid-March – was held April 23-25.
That allowed my son and I – and his Packer-crazy, dynasty league, fantasy football-loving friends – to gather via video conferencing.
It’s comical, really. We were scattered across the country – all eating various tailgate menu items at our own locations with buffalo wings being the food of choice – nitpicking, arguing, chastising, praising and condemning every selection.
“I can’t believe they took him? He’s not even the best lineman?”
“I wonder if he’s going to fall? He’s got a lot of injury concerns.”
“How many wide receivers are going to go in the first round?”
The banter, jokes, pot shots and pearls of wisdom continued for hours.
But everything changed as the Packers were about to make their first pick.
Each of us had an idea of whom we thought Green Bay should select.
None of us were right. We were not even close.
It was not a wide receiver, offensive lineman or linebacker.
“With the 26th pick in the first round, the Green Bay Packers select Jordan Love, quarterback, Utah State …”
For those of you that are not Packers or NFL fans, Green Bay has future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
None of us believed the Packers needed a quarterback with their first pick.
It's unlikely he will help the team this year. He may never help the Packers.
He's described as someone with considerable athletic ability who struggles making decisions and reading defenses with a propensity of throwing the ball to the other team.
When it was announced, my son threw his arms up in the air and stormed off. Someone else yelled. The rest of us sat in silence … an exaggerated, prolonged silence.
Even an hour later, as that Thursday night telecast ended, a pall – like a dark cloud – hovered over the conference call as we all said good night.
Can you imagine if that’s how Jesus felt when he picks us to do His will?
That we weren’t good enough or made too many mistakes.
That our flaws outweighed any positives we brought to the table.
That we were a wasted pick who couldn’t do anything to contribute to the team?
But Jesus doesn’t feel that way about any of us. Genesis says we were all made in God’s image.
It doesn’t matter if you can’t beat press coverage off the line of scrimmage.
Or, you are a “tweener” who has some ability but really doesn’t have a set position.
Or, you are a waist bender that doesn’t have good pad level, stands up too straight and can't provide enough leverage to block effectively.
God knows all our strengths and weaknesses, but he puts us in the best position to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ while witnessing to others.
You could be frustrated in a dead-end job wondering what are you doing there?
There might be someone struggling in the same business you are in who doesn’t have Jesus Christ in their life. You could be that person to share His love no matter your situation.
I was involved in men’s ministry long before being called to full-time ministry when I lost my job as a sports editor in Wisconsin due to the recession in 2009.
It was unbelievable how God brought so many men into my life who were struggling after losing their jobs, identity and livelihoods.
I never would have been able to understand or minister to them if I had not gone through the same thing. God will put you where you need to be for the glory of His kingdom.
There are so many people in the Bible that don’t fit the profile of a first-round draft pick.
Gideon was the least of his family and the tribes of Israel. God knew that. His lack of size, strength or eloquent speaking ability didn’t matter.
His heart enabled him to lead 300 men, composed of farmers and shepherds, to take out 135,000 veteran Midianite soldiers.
David was an adulterer and a murderer. But David repented and God restored him to become Israel’s greatest king.
Moses was a murderer and a shepherd who struggled as stutterer, but he led Israel out of Egypt.
Paul was one of the church’s imposing persecutors but he became the greatest missionary after God struck him down on the road to Damascus and told him that he was to bring the message of Christ's saving light to his people and the Gentiles.
Peter denied Christ when Jesus needed him the most as he was going to be led to his death on the cross. But after Christ’s resurrection he tells Peter that He loves him and Peter is to feed his sheep and lead them to Him.
God uses ordinary people, warts and all, for His glory.
Paul Salata founded an event in Newport Beach, California, in 1976 to honor the final pick of each year’s NFL Draft to be labeled as “Mr. Irrelevant.”
This year’s “Mr. Irrelevant” was University of Georgia linebacker Tae Crowder. He was the 255th and final pick by the New York Giants.
Only one “Mr. Irrelevant” – kicker Ryan Succop – ever saw his NFL career amount to much. He started the last 6 seasons for the Tennessee Titans.
For most of these back of the line players, the parade and banquet thrown in their honor is one of the primary highlights of their pro football careers.
There are no “Mr. Irrelevant’s” on God’s team. But to be part of it, you need to make yourself eligible for the draft. You need to drop your nets, like the disciples did, and follow Him.
Brad Zimanek is the Associate Pastor at Mulder Church in Wetumpka, Alabama. He worked in sports journalism for 32 years prior to answering the call to full-time ministry.