That was then. Sadly he has subsequently had some highly publicized demotions and, having failed to make the grade with the Jets and the Patriots, he is currently a free agent. I guess that's a fancy way of saying what for the rest of us would be 'out of work'.
We have been talking about work in recent blogs. It's a good thing. So Tebow's position is unfortunate. His story is particularly interesting because it describes the work life of an highly vocal Christian. It was exciting to watch the 'kingdom significance' of his work when he was on the way up the employment ladder in the NFL. It is more enigmatic to interpret his downward journey. But for him and us, it seems like it was good while it lasted.
While the ups and downs of our careers as Christian workers are generally much less dramatic and public than Tebow's, his larger-than-life story serves to magnify the way we think about work. What was so good about his promotion? Most would say it was that it brought attention and credibility to the gospel and created a platform for communicating the Christian faith. He was a challenge to the propaganda that Christians are losers; one in the eye for a media that tries to portray and promote culture as being secular. It put God back on the big screen.
Is that a good reason for Christians to pursue promotion - to excel at work and receive the recognition that success deserves in order to be a more effective poster-boy for the gospel? The fact that there is a flaw in that perspective is magnified in Tebow's life which now bears loud testimony to the old adage that what goes up must come down. There are many Christian athletes, even high-profile ones, who are unsuccessful, so we are in trouble if we are going to promote the gospel on the marketing slogans of success.
The same is true in all other areas of work. There are Christians who are successful in their careers, but there are others who are unsuccessful. There are many more who are simply ordinary. But not even the unsuccessful workers are all bad people: in their cases, the gospel is not compromised by moral failure. We are placing an unbearable burden on believers if we suggest that the success of the gospel is contingent on their success at work.
What if, instead, they could believe that pursuing a promotion is a good thing simply because the new position offers a better job with more significant, more challenging, more rewarding, more fruitful work? It's worth doing even if it offers no more money to give away to worthy causes. It's worth doing even if nobody else ever sees or hears of the person doing the work. The workplace is where we spend the biggest chunk of our time and what matters most is that we are faithfully doing the best that we can do with all of our heart - and whatever it is, doing it to the glory of God.
I am suggesting that the "glory of God" bit (despite the Tebow hype) has little to do with the size of the crowd watching or the profile of the stage on which we perform. Jesus seemed more interested in the closet than the amphitheater, more interested in the audience of One than the adulation of the crowd. Less interested in influencing people than doing his Father's business, the works of him who sent him.
If throwing a pigskin in the middle of a bunch of testosterone-enflamed over-sized football players in front of a hysterical crowd is what God has made you to do, then do it with all your heart. Not because of the money, not because of the spiritual leverage it may give you, but because you love to do what God has called you to do. The rest is up to Him. The same applies to plumbers and politicians. And pastors.