The latest issue of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA, www.fca.org) Magazine highlights 40 Christ-following college football standouts, their journeys to the fields where they play today and how they passionately pursued God along the way.
FCA’s eighth annual college football issue features Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph and 39 other Christ-following student-athletes.
“For Christian athletes, the effort and energy exerted on the field is simply a form of worship – a way to glorify their Creator, giving Him praise and honor for the abilities He blessed them with to compete,” said Clay Meyer, FCA Magazine editor. “The lessons learned in passionately pursuing their gridiron goals also apply directly to their relationship with Christ. Time spent with the Lord in prayer and in His Word develop a longing to know Him more – and it forges a closer bond and deeper devotion to their relationship with Him.
“It’s in that vein, in the game or out, that Colossians 3:23 remains the highest calling upon their lives: ‘Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. That verse was the inspiration behind FCA Magazine’s theme of ‘passionately pursuing God’ for our 2017 college football player profiles. They all shared why and how they pursue a relationship with Jesus, and the impact He has had on their lives and football careers.”
Heisman talk and NFL chatter is already starting for Mason Rudolph, one of the best quarterbacks in college football as he leads the Oklahoma State Cowboys week after week. For the FCA Magazine cover feature, Rudolph told FCA that growing up around his grandfather who was a minister, he was always immersed in the gospel.
“Once I made it to college, my faith had to become my own,” Rudolph said. “The distance away from my family actually strengthened my relationship with Christ. I passionately pursue Christ because I want to be a witness for Him and use this platform to impact our community. I think my faith has grown in every chapter of my life, especially in college.”
Here is a question-and-answer interview with Rudolph.
FCA: How does your relationship with God impact your approach to football?
MR: It seems like during the season you just naturally become more emotional and closer to God because you’re thinking about Him, you’re more anxious, you’re more nervous. You have to turn to Him with those nerves and emotions and just lean on Him and trust that He’s going to protect you and keep you safe.
Christ is at the center of it. It’s Christ who will always be there for you; He’s your foundation. So just getting in the Word and leaning on a few of my life verses throughout the week, as well as constant communication with my parents, my grandparents — that’s my secret to success.
FCA: In your role on the team, how do you balance encouraging unity while also using your voice for leadership?
MR: It’s important to have individual connections with every position group on the team. We compete every single day against each other – the defense and the offense – so sometimes the defense can feel a little bit isolated from the offense, or vice versa. I have to make a conscious effort every single day to go speak to those guys (on defense) personally. And not just about football.
Then you’ve got to have that trust from your teammates, and it comes from your work ethic. That really translates into an environment where you have the sole voice (of leadership), and the guys will follow you into any circumstance.
FCA: Why do you feel God put you in this specific position in sports?
MR: I was blessed with talent, but my parents taught me at a young age that it takes a lot more than just talent to get where you want to go. It’s just a blessing from God, and I’ve tried to use that to the best of my ability. I try to be a witness and do things off the field, because it’s more about how we can affect other people’s lives.
God is not predictable. In Mark Batterson’s book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, he says, “You can bank on God to bring the unpredictable.” We try to diligently lay out a plan for our lives – for the day or the month or the year – and a lot of times He kind of just laughs at us because it’s His plan for our lives, not ours. The way He’s orchestrated my career in football, as well as my life off the field, I don’t think I would’ve dreamed it would’ve gone this way.
FCA: Why do you feel the ministry of FCA is important?
MR: It’s big because people look up to athletes. Those guys in leadership roles can show there’s more to life than just football; they can be a witness for Christ. That was big with me with Tim Tebow. I thought Tim Tebow hung the moon when I was in high school and middle school. The way he used his platform to reach kids and reach people all across the world with his ministry, the way he carried himself – that made an impact on me. I always told myself, that’s what I want to be.
Along with Rudolph, the annual college football issue highlights 40 athletes, including Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama), Hunter Renfrow (Clemson), John David Moore (LSU), David Blough (Purdue) and Harrison Phillips (Stanford), along with many others.
For more information, visit www.fca.org.