A dream can be powerful. It can turn enthusiasm into success. For one, humble young man, his dream is gradually becoming his reality. Yet it would not have happened without his family, without their love and faith. In fact, his family saved his life. In this lesson we will look at how Tim Tebow’s family helped him put a solid foundation on his life, and how he has also found a model of faith and charity in someone else in his life.
Tim Tebow made football history at the end of this college season by becoming the first underclassman (freshman or sophomore) ever to win the Heisman trophy. After a solid start as a freshman, Tebow became a starting quarterback for the Florida Gators’ his sophomore year and has broken Southeastern Conference records for rushing touchdowns. Tebow finished the regular season with 3,132 passing yards and 29 touchdowns. He also ran for 838 yards and 22 touchdowns, becoming the first player in Division I-A football history to both pass and rush over 20 touchdowns in a season.
“It’s something I used to dream about,” Tebow says of his Heisman win on the Florida Gators’ website. “For it to come true, it’s unbelievable. It’s special.”
Character from the clan
Not only is his win special, the humble and soft-spoken Tebow brings character to the game. A solid family life and faith in God is what led a high-school-aged Tebow to proclaim in an interview with The Baptist Press, “Just because you play football you’re no more important than anyone else.”
The youngest of five children, Tebow could not recite his own stats during interviews when asked about his play. Growing up in a family of homeschoolers, he was allowed to play ball with the local high school when the state of Florida passed a law allowing homeschoolers to play high school sports.
As a boy, he had always been very enthusiastic about sports. As his successes on the field mounted, his parents would remind him of a Bible verse to keep him humble: Proverbs 27:2 “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”
Survivor, thanks to mom and dad
Tim began beating the odds long before he ever picked up a football. Before he was born, doctors strongly urged his parents to abort the pregnancy. The physicians believed the unborn baby had been severely, maybe even fatally, harmed in the womb by medications they’d given his mom to fight off an infection.
The details of the discussions between the doctors and Tim’s parents are an inspiring story all their own, and we’ve asked Pam and Bob to tell us exactly how everything happened. They were unavailable at press time, but have promised to fill us in for our next lesson.
In the meantime, suffice it to say that their courage to stand up to the doctors and trust in the Great Physician — Jesus — paid off: Timmy was born underweight but otherwise healthy.
“We were concerned at first because he was so malnourished,” recalls Pam, “but he definitely made up for it.”
And how. Today, Tim stands 6’3” and weighs 235 pounds.
“I really have a heart to encourage moms and women to trust the Lord with all their heart for all their lives,” says Pam about the challenges of motherhood.
Brought up with this solid faith, Tim Tebow heeds his call as an evangelizer and role model in society very seriously. He regularly shares his Christian faith in talks to youth around the country.
Tim’s father, Bob, has spent years sharing his Christian faith with people in the Philippines, has helped to build an orphanage there and has also organized medical help for the poor. Every summer Bob brings young people from the United States to help him on his work there. His son Tim has been a regular participant in these youth missions and really loves it.
Says Tim, “Its been a great experience. We go into medical clinics, hospitals, prisons, market places and schools. You preach and help out. We go to the orphanage and a lot of things like that. It’s a great experience. I love going every year and I can’t wait until I go back. Every time you go you learn something different, and it changes your life even more.”
Tim Tebow acknowledges that working with people so disadvantaged has changed the way he looks at the world.
Finding family spirit
It is no wonder that Tim Tebow chose the University of Florida to pursue his career and football aspirations. Majoring in Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Tebow has found another family of his own in his teammates and Gators’ coach, Urban Meyer. Coach Meyer, a Catholic and another solid family man has said of Tim Tebow, “He’s such a positive influence. He’s such an unselfish guy.” Coach Meyer acknowledges that Tim Tebow is the kind of role model young people can look up to.
Coach’s favorite team
Coach Meyer and his wife, Shelley, maintain a strong family life. Shelley credits her husband in part, for always keeping his family in the know about his schedule. The schedule of a famous college football coach is demanding, but, like football, teamwork is the name of the game. Shelley is a stay-at-home mother who spends her time attending to her three children and volunteering in the community.
For Coach Meyer, devoting time to his family is as important to him as it is to them. He once found himself with some time after his football commitments were completed, so he took advantage of a police escort to catch a few minutes of his son’s baseball game. Coach Meyer makes time to spend weekends away with his son. He also has set aside “date nights” to spend individual time with his teen daughters.
Faith: part of the program
Faith is an important aspect of the Meyers lives as well. “Spiritual health is very important to our kids and our players. It’s very important to us,” Shelley Meyer said in an interview with The Gainsville Sun. “Faith is the only thing that can get you through the hard times.”
The Meyers family attends Queen of Peace parish where their two teen daughters are preparing to make their confirmation. Shelley herself was raised Protestant and she and her husband, have also taken their children to Protestant churches in the area so they can be familiar with their mother’s Christian background as well.
Fatherhood and football
Like Tim Tebow, Coach Urban Meyer takes his position as a role model very seriously. Recruiting is one of the things any college coach must be good at. Coach Meyer treats his recruits like family – they spend time at the Meyer family home and he has been known to text message them almost daily, just to check in and see how they are doing.
Relationship building is an important part of the coach’s recruiting process in that both the coach and his players see their Gators’ team as an extended family. The difference that Coach Meyer brings to the lives of these athletes is his sincere concern for them. Many recruits often comment that he truly makes himself available to them, and, when he wants to know how things are, it is because he means it.
Tim Tebow admires these qualities in his coach. As he said in an interview with The New York Times,”That’s one thing that’s so great about Coach Meyer is that he does realize that there’s things more important than football. Helping guys out, changing their lives. There’s countless guys on the team … that he’s totally changed their lives, did a 180. … He’s so much more than a football coach, he’s like a fatherto a lot of guys. He’s one of the best coaches in college football, but he’s more than that. He’s interested in helping people and doing the right thing.”
Success in selflessness
Shelley Meyer credits the team’s successes to this close-knit family feeling. “That’s why they win,” she said. “That’s exactly why they win. Egos are left somewhere else. That’s just a really special thing about our team.” Sounds like a place called home for a young, humble football star named Tim Tebow.
Forming for fatherhood
There is always talk that successful collegiate athletes and coaches will one day find their way to the pros. Perhaps that dream will also become a reality in the future for Tim Tebow or Coach Urban Meyer. Shelley Meyer is quick to remark, “Urban’s calling is really to mentorand role model and teach these college guys how to be good dads and good husbands.” That is the preparation for real life that Coach Urban Meyer brings to his team.
In the player of Tim Tebow, Coach Meyer’s example is just one more person modeling behavior that his family has instilled in him since he was a child. For the world of football and for the world outside of football, these two men have become shining examples of what it means to live faith in every day life.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” (Proverbs 27:2)
“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” (Ephesians 3: 14-15)
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Hoy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19-20)
“And the King will answer them, truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these brethren, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40)
“The natural family, as an intimate communion of life and love, based on marriage between a man and a woman, constitutes “the primary place of ‘humanization’ for the person and society,” and a “cradle of life and love.”(Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Peace 2008, no. 2)
“This point merits special reflection: everything that serves to weaken the family … constitutes an objective obstacle on the road to peace.”(Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Peace 2008, no. 5)
“Today, too, there is a need for disciples of Christ who give unstintingly of their time and energy to serve the Gospel. There is a need for young people who will allow God’s love to burn within them and who will respond generously to his urgent call.” (Benedict XVI, July 20, 2007)
“Do not be afraid to become holy missionaries like Saint Francis Xavier … or like Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus … Be prepared to put your life on the line in order to enlighten the world with the truth of Christ; to respond with love to hatred and disregard for life; to proclaim the hope of the risen Christ in every corner of the earth.”(Benedict XVI, July 20, 2007)
2205 The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit.
2207 The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honor God, and make good use of freedom.
2210 The importance of the family for the life and well-being of society entails a particular responsibility for society to support and strengthen marriage and the family.
2472 The duty of Christians impels them to act as witness of the Gospel. This witness is a transmission of the faith in words and deeds.
2272 The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy (by condemning abortion). Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.
Saints and Heroes
Priest Dedicated to Educating Young People in the Philippines
Fr. Jesus Reynaldo Roda, OMI
(Gave his life on January 15, 2008)
Fr. Reynaldo Roda was a member of a Catholic missionary community, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. He dedicated his life to helping the poor, youth, and families in the Philipines. For the past ten years he ran a missionary station and Notre Dame High School –which has about 30 students- on the island township of Tabawan, Philipines, in the southern part of the Philippine islands.
Most of the Philippines is generally peaceful, and is predominantly Catholic, but in the southern islands, about 650 miles from Manila, Muslim extremists have waged a decades-long insurgency. Priests and missionaries have often been the target of Muslim extremists.
Father Roda had received death threats from the al-Queda linked Abu Sayyaf group, which has gained notoriety for bomb attacks, kidnappings and hostage beheadings. However, Father refused to abandon the young people who attended his mission and school. On Tuesday, January 15, about 10 gunmen believed to be from the al-Qaeda-linked group seized Father Roda while he was praying in the chapel to take him captive and shot him dead when he resisted. According to a witness, Fr. Roda said that he preferred to be killed right there and then rather than be taken hostage and used for ransom. Father Roda was the third Catholic missionary killed in this southern area of the Philipines in recent years.
Pope Benedict XVI heard of the news and immediately sent a telegram to the bishops of the Philipines, praising the courage and faithfulness of Fr. Roda. The pope also commended Fr. Roda’s example to priests and people throughout the region, and especially to the young. (Source: Associated Press January 18, 2008 and other sources)
From Self-fascination to Love for Others
St Maria de Mattias
Virgin and Foundress of the Sisters Adorers of the Blood of Christ
(entered heaven August 20th, 1866)
Maria was born in the early 1800’s in central Italy. Her family was comfortable and aristocratic, and she spent her youth close to her father, who read to her from the Bible and even gave her the rudiments of an education (girls didn’t receive formal studies at that time in that place). She developed sensitivity for spiritual things, and an appreciation for the Scriptures, but in her teenage years, living in the relative isolation that her social class required, she became self-absorbed. She spent more and more time admiring her own beauty and fantasizing about the wonderful life it would bring her. Somehow, though, when she was about 17, her daydreams turned sour. She experienced a kind of existential crisis, which must have been the fruit of grace, because when she turned to prayer and to her dad in order to get out of it, seeking from those sources light and wisdom about the true meaning of life, God granted her a mystical vision of Christ crucified, in which she perceived the beauty of God’s love in the blood spilled by Our Savior. She found in Christ the burning, higher love that her heart had been vainly searching for in worldly dreams, and she found it in the beauty of Christ’s blood.
That experience, matured in prayer, moved her to take to the streets of Italy, which were stained by the blood of countless feuds and civil wars in those years, to preach what she had experienced. She wanted to help others see Christ’s love as he had helped her see it. She received another boost that same year when a holy preacher (Saint Gaspar del Bufalo) led a mission in her home town. He preached so effectively that she could see the change in the lives of her fellow townspeople. This gave her confidence. It showed her that God could use human words to do in others what he had done directly in her.
Soon her zeal made her known, and the bishop asked her to take over a house for poor girls, where she cared for them, taught them their faith and some trades, and even the basics of academics (she had taught herself to read and write). Her teaching was amazingly effective. Soon the mothers started coming to listen as well. And then they brought their sons too (not just their daughters). And even though the social mores forbade her to speak to men, groups of men started gathering outside the windows to listen in. The local shepherds, dodging the rules of etiquette, sneaked into town at night and begged her to teach them about Christ.
She attracted a following and formed a religious Congregation of women dedicated to preaching the love of Christ, so as to transform every heart and thereby change all of society. By the time of her death when she was 61, she had founded 70 communities, usually in small, out-of-the-way towns. By the time of her beatification almost 100 years later, the number had soared to 400. Her feast day is February 4.
Acceptance – approving reception; approval
Aspiration – strong desire or ambition
Calling – an inner urging toward some profession or activity; vocation
Character – moral strength; self-discipline, fortitude, determination
Concern – interest in or regard for a person or thing; charity
Evangelize – to preach the gospel (the good news)
Faith – belief and trust in God
Humility – being simple; honesty in recognizing that one’s good qualities come from God’s generosity; unpretentiousness; having or showing a consciousness of one’s defects or shortcomings; not proud; not self-assertive; modest
Love –1. a deep and tender attachment or devotion to a person or persons
2. God’s tender regard and concern for all human beings
3. devotion to and desire for God as the supreme good
Mentor – a wise, loyal advisor
Selflessness – devoted to others’ welfare or interests and not one’s own; unselfish; altruistic
Steadfastness – firm, fixed, settled, or established; not changing, fickle or wavering; constant
Strength – the power to resist strain, stress, etc.; toughness; durability
Support – to give courage, faith, or confidence to; help or comfort
Trust – 1. firm belief or confidence in the honesty, integrity, reliability, justice, etc. of another person or thing; faith 2. confident expectation, anticipation, or hope
- Tim Tebow’s parents had to put their trust in God rather than in the doctors who advised abortion. Do you think this was an easy time in their life? Where do you think they found the strength to be steadfast in their love for God’s gift of life? Do you think their strength helps Tim today? In what ways might it help?
- According to researchers, doctors are frequently telling women they should consider abortion when confronted with various medical situations affecting their health. Yet, as prominent researcher Joel Brind notes, and as Tim Tebow’s story shows, doctors can successfully treat both mother and child without suggesting the baby be killed to spare the mother’s life. Why do you think this pressure for abortion is a common practice in society today? Can you think of any ways we can change this mentality? How can Tim Tebow’s story help to affect this change?
- Why did Tim Tebow’s parents teach him to follow the verse from Proverbs 27:2 – Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips?
- How might Tim Tebow be different if he was raised in a family without such strong values?
- In what ways do good marriages and families help children become good members of society? What difficulties in life can strong families and strong marriages help children and young people overcome?
- Do you think Tim Tebow’s effort to witness to his faith and share it with others is something worth imitating? Do you think this world would be a better place if more people knew and loved Jesus Christ? In what ways might it be better? Do you think Catholics do enough to share their faith with others?
- Why does Coach Meyer’s personal attention make such a difference to his team both on and off the field? Can you give any other examples of professions where concern for others can be a key to success?
- Coach Meyer spends individual time with his children. Do you think this is important as children become teenagers? If so, why?
- Sports can help in the formation of character and virtue. List some virtues that can be lived in sports. List some that Tim Tebow has displayed.
- List the talents that God has given you and write about which ones you might be able to develop into a career. Are there talents that you have been given that make you uncomfortable but that you think God would like for you to work on? (examples: public speaking, helping small children or the elderly, being a peacemaker)
- Write about a time that was difficult for you. Looking back on it now, write about why you believe God allowed this difficulty to happen in your life.
- Have a debate about question two of the discussion questions: Are doctors too likely to advise abortion in difficult pregnancies? Why or why not is this so? Do you think this can be changed, and if so, how?
- Have a debate about this question: Should homeschooled students be allowed to play on high school sports teams? Why or why not?
- Research your real life role models. Is their public life a reflection of their personal convictions?
- Check out the Catholic organization Missionary Youth (www.youth4missions.com) for the possibility of participating in a mission or organize your own mission: break into small groups, list people that you would like to invite to church for Easter Sunday and then visit them together to invite them to Mass.
- Official Heisman website: www.heisman.com
- Unofficial Tim Tebow fansite: www.timtebowfans.org
- ESPN’s Tim Tebow profile: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/player/profile?playerId=183484
- UF football website: www.gatorzone.com/football
- UF’s first lady of football: http://gainesville.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070409/SUNFRONT/704090328
- Top quarterback recruit aims to stay grounded in Christ: http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=22513