In a time when the press tends to focus on all of the negative attributes in professional sports it is nice to reflect on the great Christian athletes that have and continue to make a difference for God. One of my favorite Bible verses is Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. This verse is one that is lived out by these eleven athletes. Not only do (did) they use their abilities God gave them to the fullest, but they glorify and bring people to know Him through their talent and fame brought with it.
Here is my list of top 11 Christian athletes of all- time counted down. Do you agree or disagree? Did I miss somebody? Interact with us in the comments!
11. John Smoltz- MLB Pitcher
Smoltz had a MLB career that included over 200 wins and 150 saves. He is the only player that has both a 20 win season and 50 save season on his baseball resume. More importantly outside of sports Smoltz has proclaimed his Christian faith. Smoltz has shared that he is a born again Christian and has served on the board of a Christian school in Alpharetta, Georgia. He was also involved in the development of a Christian school in the Atlanta region.
10. Kurt Warner – NFL Quarterback
Kurt Warner has won a super bowl and a few NFL MVP’s and at the same time lived for Christ. He has shared his faith with others and believed that God healed him from a concussion in 2000. Kurt and his wife Brenda started the First Things First foundation. This is a Christian non profit organization that helps those in need in a variety of ways.
9. Mike Singletary – NFL Linebacker/ Coach
Mike Singletary was a pro bowl linebacker, super bowl winner, and Hall of Famer. One of his nicknames was “Minister of Defense”. Singletary got this nickname because he was also an ordained minister. Mike was known for his intensity on the field but more importantly for this intensity for his love of Christ!
8. Albert Pujols- MLB Outfielder/ First Baseman
Albert Pujols already has had a great MLB career. He has won two world series titles with the St. Louis Cardinals and 3 MVP awards. Pujols is a professing Christian who has been quoted as saying:
"My life's g oal is to bring glory to Jesus. My life is not mostly dedicated to the Lord, it is 100% committed to Jesus Christ and His will. God has given me the ability to succeed in the game of baseball. But baseball is not the end; baseball is the means by which my wife, Dee Dee, and I glorify God. Baseball is simply my platform to elevate Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior."
7. A.C. Green- NBA Forward
A.C. Green is best known for his days with the L.A. Lakers but had an amazing streak of not missing a game from 1986 through 2001. A. C. Green is also noted for his faith and living it out. He was often teased for admitting he was a virgin and teammates would often send women to his room to tempt him. Green would use this as an opportunity to quote Scriptures to the women.
6. Joe Gibbs- NFL Coach, Nascar Owner
Joe Gibbs won championships in both the NFL and Nascar sports. He is well known in both circles as a devout Christian. Gibbs lives out his faith and is not shy to teach Christian principles in his coaching and owner duties. Gibbs wrote a book called “Game Plan For Life” which talks about God and the importance of his relationship with God in his life.
5. Tony Dungy- NFL Player/ Coach
Tony Dungy is noted to be the first African American NFL coach to win a Super Bowl when he won with the Indianapolis Colts. Dungy is also known by fans, players and friends to be an evangelical Christian. Dungy had considered walking away from the NFL for a Christian prison ministry at one point in his career. He continues to counsel and share with others his Christian faith and love for Jesus after his retirement from coaching.
4. George Foreman- Boxer
Many of the youngest generation today think of George Foreman as the creator of the George Foreman grill. He did happen to be one of the greatest boxers of all time. He was a two time heavyweight champion and also Olympic Gold medalist. George is also known as a man of faith. He is a ordained Baptist minister. Foreman is the father of eleven children and has lived his life as a great Christian role model to both his children and fans.
3. Reggie White- NFL Defensive End
The late Reggie White is one of the toughest defensive lineman to put on a helmet in the NFL. He is the second all-time sack leader and made it to twelve pro bowls. Like Mike Singeltary he was also called the “ Minister of Defense” on the field and was known for his Christian ministry work as an ordained pastor.
2. David Robinson – NBA Player
David Robinson did it all on the basketball court. He is in the hall of fame and has two NBA titles along with an MVP award to his name. David is a professing Christian who has lived his life that way and continues to. Robinson had such a reputation of being charitable that they renamed the Community assist award given annually in the NBA to now be called the “David Robinson Plaque”.
1. Tim Tebow- NFL Quarterback
Tim Tebow has used his talents for the glory of Christ in an environment that at times is hostile towards him. He is very open about his faith and they even coined a phrase called “Tebowing” off of his kneeling on one knee to pray. Tebow has been taken on by many who have criticized him for his faith and yet he has stood firm showing the ability to speak the truth in love. In college Tebow wore Bible verses on his eye black which caused many to search out those verses during or after the game. Tebow was a Heisman trophy winner and a great athlete but will best be remembered for his faith.
Honarable Mention (Current Stars): Zach Johnson (Golf), Derek Fisher (NBA), Mariano Rivera (MLB), Jeff Gordan (Nascar), Jeremy Lin (NBA)
To be in the public spotlight and live out your faith in Christ is not easy for anybody. These eleven athletes exemplified what it means to be a Christian athlete. They were all Christians first and used their athletic ability to bring glory to God.
Who is your favorite Christian athlete? Did I miss anyone that you admire for their faith? Please share with us in the comments.
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Beall on Fickr