Although Russell Wilson transferred to Wisconsin for his senior season, he spent three years quarterbacking the NC State Wolfpack, my alma mater. Since his days with the Wolfpack, I’ve been a huge fan. As he has excelled in his professional career, it has been an uplifting experience to watch him grow, not only as a player, but as a person as well.
I can’t think of a better example of, as the book of Matthew says, salt and light. His twitter feed is filled with photos from his time at Seattle Children’s Hospital where he visits ailing youth and their families, daily Bible verses that provide encouragement, and incredible compliments to his teammates and fans.
In a culutre that screams, the bigger the ego, the larger the check, it’s nice to have a reprieve.
In short, I think we need more champions like Russell Wilson.
An Unlikely Champion
What amazes me the most about Wilson’s journey is how unconventional it has been. His dream of playing professional football faced countless obstacles that threatened to stall any hopes that it would ever be acheived.
As a budding, two-sport athlete, he was met with a barrage of negativity:
You’re too small…
Stick with baseball…
You can’t play two sports…
We’re releasing your scholarship…
You’re not NFL material…
However, the most tragic obstacle was the loss of his father, Harrison, who died as a result of complications from adult-onset diabetes in 2010. In the face of such adversity, defeat seemed likely. But before his father passed, he shared three words with his young son that would remain a beacon of hope.
One day while riding in the car, Harrison Wilson looked at his son and said, “Why not you, Russ?”
In the face of any challenge, these three words have become a treasure for Wilson and, in some ways, his rally cry.
Why not you?
Recently, I learned another piece of the story which added to the growing legacy of this blossoming sports icon.
After the 2013 season–his first season as a professional–Wilson attended the Super Bowl as a spectator. While most of his peers were enjoying the start of their offseason, Wilson walked the field during the pre-game and sat in the stands as an everyday fan.
Even after his team had lost, he watched the other players live out his dream and imagined himself doing the same.
I envision him repeating the words of his late father in his mind: “Why not me?“
That experience fueled the fire of hope in his soul; the type of hope that is contagious.
Pretty soon, his teammates and the fans in Seattle began believing:
Why not us?
In 2014, those words came to life right before our eyes as the Seattle Seahawks were crowned Super Bowl Champions. And the legacy grows.
In 2015, the Seahawks will return to the Super Bowl for the first opportunity at a repeat in ten years.
The Power of Belief
Too often, we perceive a world ready to trample our dreams with challenges and obstacles. There’s too many people screaming, “Not me!”
In a dark, crowded corner, they huddle with everyone else who has allowed fear and doubt to crush their spirit.
Every day, extraordinary people allow other’s opinions to reduce them to ordinary.
Russell Wilson has taught me something empowering that I share with you as catalyst to help you break free from that dark corner. Take your hopes and dreams, look yourself in the mirror and say:
“Why not you?”
Why is this so powerful?
Belief is a amazing thing. Faith in oneself is nearly unstoppable.
As the Great Teacher, Jesus, said, “faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains.”
This morning, Russell Wilson’s twitter post showed me where he places his faith:
“All my hope is in you Jesus! You are my anchor that is never shaken!”
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson)
There’s a great verse from the book of Matthew that gives us instructions on how to have this kind of hope:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Matthew 7:7
I think about the words Russell Wilson’s father spoke to him and I think about our Heavenly Father speaking the same to us in the verse above.
He encourages each of us:
You ask…you receive
You seek…you find
You knock…it is opened
So the next time you doubt the seed of greatness that has been placed inside of your heart or the next time you let your dream fade, remember those words from a Father:
Why not you?
About the Author
Matt Ham is speaker and best-selling author dedicated to guiding others toward rich living. His own experiences have led him to the understanding and freedom of a rich life, and through his RICH Principles he helps folks uncover true richness, identifying real treasure and discovering true joy and contentment.
Matt and his wife, Liz, live in Wilmington, North Carolina with their three sons.