November 2008 Leading the Charge LaDainian Tomlinson San Diego Chargers Jill Ewert
LaDainian Tomlinson sits peacefully in a cushy interview chair in the San Diego Chargers’ draft room. His schedule is busy, but he waits patiently to be mic’ed up and enjoys the break his legs are getting after the team’s morning workout. The silent attitude of his heart is communicated to those in the room by the grin on his face. He’s happy, and it shows.
“Of course he’s happy,” you think. “He’s one of the best running backs in the NFL, and he makes millions of dollars.”
LT is happy because he’s been blessed with athletic talent and money to spare. He knows that the more he has, the more he can give away. And nothing makes him happier than to bless others out of his abundance.
One of LT’s favorite verses is Luke 12:48: “...Much will be required of everyone who has been given much...” The passage, which is a direct quote from Jesus to His disciples, is one LT’s mother instilled in him when he was young and that now serves as one of his core life principles. It sits there, in the back of his mind, waiting to be recalled at any moment that he might need to explain just why he is so generous with his time and resources.
Many who read Luke 12:48 are overwhelmed by the responsibility it commands, but not LT. He wants to be a role model. He’s had that desire since he was in high school. He wanted the Lord to call him to a high position so that he could positively impact student-athletes the same way he was influenced at that age.
He got his wish.
Now one of the most influential men in sports, LT is thriving on his ability to bless those in need.
JE: Second Corinthians 9:7 says that the Lord loves a cheerful giver. Is that you?
LT: Most definitely. I’ve always been that way, and that really comes from my family. I was raised in a family of givers. That’s just our belief in our calling and in what we should be doing in helping others.
JE: Why do you focus so much on giving to and serving others?
LT: It’s kind of hard to explain, but I think it comes from seeing the joy on people’s faces when you give them something. That gift is something they will always remember, whether it’s big or small. That’s what I get the most joy from, because I remember the time when I was the one who needed a handout, and someone did it for me. I remember how I felt in receiving that gift.
JE: How does your faith in Christ motivate you to give?
LT: I think Christ living in me helps me do that. It’s something I don’t even have to think about, to be honest with you. I don’t struggle with it; it’s just automatic. Something inside of me says, “Give. OK, you can give a little more. Now, do a little more. You can help this person.” That’s how it works for me.
JE: Talking more about Christ, how do you think He modeled that generosity? Are there any examples from Scripture that encourage you?
“I always have to remember that the reason I have this gift is to bless others.”
LT: Well, I think about how He took the loaf of bread and fed so many people. When people were hungry, He blessed that bread and then fed all of them, and they were full. Examples like that in the Bible explain to us that even the little bit that we do can help a lot of people.
Sometimes I think we get caught up in saying, “Well, if I give this little bit, it’s not really going to make a difference.” But it actually will make a difference because we have the blessing of Jesus.
JE: You’re in a very unique situation, obviously, being in the NFL. Is it difficult for you to not get caught up in everything that comes with that position, and to stay focused on Christ’s calling to serve others?
LT: I think it’s all about having your priorities straight and knowing your calling—knowing what you’re here for and understanding the reason why we’re here.
We’re given all these things, and they’re gifts. I’m able to play football at a high level. That’s a gift. Now, if I don’t take advantage of that gift, it can be taken away. So, I have to remember that the reason I have this gift is to bless others.
I’m known around this country because of what I’ve been able to do on the football field, but that’s not where it stops. I have to go on and give and try to bless the lives of others in a certain way. I believe that’s what God wants from us and, obviously, from me.
JE: You mentioned your purpose and why we’re here. What do you feel is your purpose as one of the premiere running backs in the NFL?
Click here to download the LaDainian Tomlinson devo
with corresponding video
LaDainian Tomlinson #21
|Team: San Diego Chargers |
College: Texas Christian University
Height/Weight: 5-10/221 lbs.
NFL Experience: 8 seasons
Acquired: First-round draft pick of the Chargers in 2001 (#5 overall)
Hometown: Waco, Texas
Family: Wife, LaTorsha
•It takes a whopping 20 pages of the Chargers’ 2008 media guide to cover LT’s bio, stats and awards.
•Holds the all-time NFL record for…
…single-season touchdowns (31).
…single-season rushing touchdowns (28).
…most points scored in a single season (186).
…most consecutive games with a rushing touchdown (18).
…most consecutive multi-touchdown games (8).
…fewest games needed to score 100 touchdowns (89).
•Became the first and only player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards and receive 100 passes in a single season.
•5-time Pro-Bowl Selection
•NFL MVP (2006)
•Co-Walter Payton Man of the Year (2006)
•Best NFL Player ESPY (2007)
•Best Male Athlete ESPY (2007)
*For a complete list of LT’s awards and records, check out the Chargers’ Web site: chargers.com.
LT: I think it is to help others in whatever way I can. We are in a unique situation as football players because so many young people look up to us as role models. We really have to be mindful of that and take advantage of the opportunity that we
And, like I said, it is a blessing to be in the NFL because it’s a well-publicized game. It’s one of the most popular games in the world. And so, while that’s special to me, I understand the calling—the reason—why I’m here. It’s not only to be a great football player, but to be a great person off the field and show young people how it’s supposed to be done, how we’re supposed to handle different situations and adversity, and to make sure our faith in God stays strong.
JE: I read that you accepted Christ as a freshman in high school. Can you tell me how that happened?
LT: It was a special moment. My family has always been [full of] strong Christians, and, as I was growing up, we obviously went to church.
I had the kind of family that allowed me to grow my own faith. They didn’t pressure me too much, other than, “You have to go to church.” [laughs] But I remember that my older cousin, who I looked up to, got saved, and his life was changed. And I saw the light through him.
I was a freshman at the time, and he was a senior. So, for him to be living that life as a senior in high school was pretty special, because we all know the kind of influence that seniors can have. So, I was like, “You know what? That’s what I want. I understand what it’s all about.” And I started to seek that.
Sure enough, a few weeks later, I found myself doing the same thing. I found myself answering the call of what God had in store for me.
JE: In seeing your cousin’s example and realizing the power of influence, does that affect how you live now?
LT: Absolutely. That’s the reason why I remember the power of influence so much. We talked earlier about having an influence on the generation of kids who look up to us. We are role models, and we do have a great influence on people. I remember the kind of influence [my cousin] had on me, so, in return, I try to have the same influence.
JE: With such a passion for young people, if you could have the attention of every student-athlete in the country for five minutes, what would you say to them?
LT: I would probably tell them this: If you fly into a new city where you’ve never been before, you’re going to need directions—something to tell you where to go in that city because you’ve never been there before. If you don’t have directions, you’re going to get lost.
For me, that’s the way Christ is in my life. Without Him, I’m lost. I don’t have any direction. I don’t know which way I’m heading.
I would tell them that you have to have some direction in life. You have to know the foundation in your life and where you’re going in order to be successful.
Now, are we going to mess up? Yes, it happens. But the whole point is getting back on track and making sure you stay focused and stay on the straight and narrow.
JE: How do you do that? How do you personally stay focused on Christ?
LT: It’s all about your priorities. That’s something we talk about all the time here. It’s faith, family, football. Remembering to keep faith first, then family and then football.
JE: Do you have a Bible study group within the team?
LT: Absolutely. We have Bible study and chapel. We have a team chaplain, who is great, and I also have my pastor here in the church where my wife and I attend.
It’s great to have people like that who you can go and talk to, because we can’t do it on our own. We have to be able to lean on somebody else.
JE: Well, with November being here, everybody is getting ready for Thanksgiving. What are some of the things in your life that you are most thankful for?
LT: I’m really and truly just thankful to be in this position. Just to be living it and being able to have the impact on people and really having an opportunity to change the lives of young people.
I’m most thankful for that because, as a young person, it was something that I always wanted. I looked up to certain people in my life, and I, in turn, wanted that responsibility and that role. And I think God knew that was in my heart and was what I really wanted. I believe that’s the reason I’m in this position now.
JE: If you had to choose a characteristic of God Himself that you would be most thankful for, what would you choose?
LT: I would definitely say His love. It took absolute unconditional love for Jesus Christ to die on that cross for us. I mean, it doesn’t get any better than that! If you want to know an example of love, then you should go back and watch “The Passion of the Christ” and just see what He went through for us. That’s what real love is.
JE: Is Christ’s sacrifice for you what motivates you to give so generously?
"You can give in so many different ways. You can give just by picking up the phone and calling a friend.”
LT: Oh, definitely. I think that goes back to knowing what He gave to us—that love that He gave to us in dying on the cross. So, how can I not give? It would be ungodly for me not to give when He has given me so much.
And that’s something that has come from my family as well. My mother has always told me that what God blesses you with, you’re supposed to use to bless others. To whom much is given, much is required. You know what I mean? That’s what it’s all about.
JE: You’re setting a great example, but there may be people who read this and say, “But he has so much. I don’t have that much.” What are some practical ways you would encourage others who aren’t as blessed financially to give of themselves?
LT: Well, we can give in so many different ways. You can give just by picking up the phone and calling a friend. When a friend is calling you and really needs you for advice, if you just pick up that phone and say, “I’m here for you,” that’s giving. Anything like that. You can keep their kids while they go on vacation and allow them to spend time together ashusband and wife. There are so many ways to give; it doesn’t have to be financially.
Going back to what I said earlier, we all need somebody to lean on at one time or another. And those are special ways of giving—those times when you can lend an ear or a hand to someone who needs your help.
--For more stories about faith and sport, visit www.sharingthevictory.com, the official magazine of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. To subscribe to STV, click here.
JE: They always appreciate that so much.
LT: Absolutely. And that’s what it’s all about.
FCA Gift Planning
LaDainian Tomlinson loves to give back, and maybe you do, too. If so, here’s some helpful information on year-end giving options!
“…For everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your own hand.”
– 1 Chronicles 29:14
If you are considering a gift to FCA, we recommend taking these four steps: Take the time to ask God what His will is for your stewardship plans.
1. Pray –
2. Explore – Contact us or visit fca.org and click “Gift Planning” to explore your options.
3. Create – Establish a gifting plan.
4. Implement – Move forward with your plans with the help of FCA and wise counsel.
Don’t hesitate to call us for more information. Contact your local FCA staff or call 1-800-289-0909. Or, visit us online at fca.org. Click the “Gift Planning” tab on the left side to explore your options!
Did you know that roughly 70 percent of those who will contribute to a ministry will do so between now and the end of the year? If you are part of that majority, FCA wants to help you understand ways of giving that extend beyond cash donations.
We know that finding the time to review all your stewardship options can be difficult. It can be both overwhelming and confusing. But, don’t let that inhibit your desire to be a good steward. Let us help! FCA has personnel who would be glad to work with your financial advisers on any type of gift, not only for FCA, but also for other ministries that are important to your family. Our Development Ministry reflects the biblical model of giving generously and strives to maximize the best IRS-approved, tax-wise strategies!
Good stewardship not only blesses the Kingdom of God, it blesses you, as well! It can provide tax deductions, eliminate certain types of tax, save you money and even create new income. Beyond the physical, it also gives you peace of mind regarding your estate, leaves a legacy for your family and supports the Kingdom!
Gift Ideas – Traditional:
•Cash: Quick and easy way to give.
•Stock: Any type works and offers a double-tax benefit.
•Life Insurance: Donate the cash value that is no longer needed for the original purpose.
•Excess Business Inventory: Offers a unique opportunity for company giving.
•Business Interest: Before a sale, redirect some taxes from the IRS instead to ministry.
•Real Estate: Similar to stock donations and offers double-tax benefit.
•Bequest: Leave a percentage of your estate to ministry.
•IRA: There are new opportunities for those over the age of 70.5. Call for details!
•Charitable Annuities and Trust: Part gift, part income arrangements.
•Foundations: Grants can be received from any type of foundation.
Gift Ideas – Unique:
•Collectibles: Donate art, antiques, baseball cards, etc. to your local FCA.
•Vehicles: Donate anything with a steering wheel or handlebars!
•Office Space: Contact your local FCA staff to see if they could use your empty space for meetings.
•Doors: Don’t start ripping out hinges, just open up your home! Host a dinner or dessert to introduce others to the FCA Ministry.
•Time: Check with local FCA staff and Huddle Coaches to see when and where a Huddle may be volunteering. Then jump in to lend a hand!
•Random: Still other options for gifts to FCA include computers, food, furniture and appliances.
Photos courtesy Mike Nowak/San Diego Chargers.