After Clemson was declared the “king of college football” in the 2018 National Champion game, winning by a final score of 44-16 over Alabama, a video of freshman Clemson QB, Trevor Lawrence, resurfaced all over social media.
The video, however, wasn’t a proud or pretentious young man pointing to his own greatness or giftedness. It was a video of Trevor Lawrence speaking about how his faith in Jesus Christ has impacted his life and freed him from the pressure to put his identity in his performance on the field. The video was released at the beginning of Clemson’s season but it’s worth noting the type of mindset this young quarterback carried into the game of his life on January 7th.
In the video Lawrence said, “Football’s important to me, obviously, but it’s not my life. It’s not the biggest thing in my life. I would say my faith is. That just comes from knowing who I am outside of that. No matter how big the situation is, it’s not really going to define me. I put my identity in who Christ thinks I am and who I know He says I am….so at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what people think about me or how good they think I play. That’s definitely been a big thing for me, in my situation, just knowing that and having confidence in that.”
While Trevor’s incredible talent, outstanding leadership, and poise under pressure is remarkable, it’s his vulnerability when speaking about his identity being in Jesus that should have us truly inspired. It’s a message I hope Trevor will keep sharing, and a message I pray will keep spreading, because we’ve never needed it like we need it now.
If you’re a parent of a teen you’re likely familiar with the escalating anxiety epidemic among our students. In fact, in 2016 the American College Health Association found that 62 percent of students reported feeling “overwhelming anxiety” in the past year, up from 50 percent in 2011. In other words, if we don’t get more intentional about giving our kids a firm foundation of faith on which to build their self-worth and identity, we are only going to see this statistic rise.
The primary message our children receive is that they’d better be the best at everything, and this leaves them afraid to reveal their inadequacies and insecurities -- hiding behind the best version of themselves. They never feel like they’re doing quite enough, and the pressure to keep up and pretend like they’re perfectly pulling life off is killing them. They are searching for significance in their success, and when they don’t succeed like they hoped they would, they feel like failures. They feel worthless.
What Trevor Lawrence seems to understand is that our search for significance in anything or anyone other than Jesus will always leave us longing for more. It -- whatever it is -- will never be enough. From our youngest days to our dying days, we will relentlessly chase more.
Whatever we chase, it will ultimately disappoint, maybe even devastate, all depending on how dependent we are on that person or thing to provide us with what only Jesus can provide, which is an unwavering sense of significance, not based on what we do or don’t accomplish or achieve, but based on who we belong to and what He did to rescue us and reunite us to God.
But here’s the thing we as parents need to think about. Whether we like it or not, whether we realize it or not, our children are watching. We can rest assured that our chase for significance impacts our children. But the same could be said if our souls are satisfied in Jesus. When our lives demonstrate the truth that our significance is not based on what we do or what we have, but on what’s been done for us by Jesus and what we have in Jesus, our children will witness the fruit of freedom in our lives. What makes us -- and our children --significant is not what we have but whose we are!
When the internal and external voices whisper lies to our children like, “You’re insignificant. You’re not enough. You’re not measuring up. You are a disappointment,” we want them to know, deep in their souls: The only One who gets to define you is the One who created you and redeemed you, and He calls you loved.
The secret Trevor Lawrence knows, and the one we all need to share with our kids is this: When they fail and when they succeed, when they do lovable things and when they do unlovable things, when they make team captain or don’t make the team at all, when they get into the college of their dreams or they barely graduate, their inherent worth is unwavering. They have a God who calls them by name. He knows every hair on their head and every dream in their heart, and He has a plan for their life. A good plan. A plan that will unfold in God’s perfect timing. A plan created by a God who can do far more than we could ever imagine when our lives are surrendered to Him.
Of all the things we can and should give our kids, an identity firmly anchored in Christ is the greatest gift of all. “I am who God says I am.” That is the identity that will withstand every success or failure our children will walk through. It will keep them humble in success and confident in strife. Thank you, Trevor Lawrence, for being courageous enough to speak that truth!