It’s been a big week for sports in the city of Dallas. Early Tuesday morning caught Cowboys’ fans by surprise with Romo’s announcement that he’s hung up his cleats and helmet and buttoned his coat and tie. Even though everyone knew Dak Prescott was the new sheriff in town, I don’t think anyone really expected Romo to drop the pigskin without one more try to win the “big one” with another great team. At least I didn’t. I wish him the best. Even though Romo often made my ulcers bleed, I always respected the guy. He had a heart to win, and frankly, he didn’t have much help until the great offensive line materialized in 2013. On a separate note, Dez caught that ball. I have no intentions of getting over the heartbreak anytime soon.
Anyway, I saw the announcement come across the TV screen when I was on the elliptical at the gym early Tuesday morning. I watched the ESPN coverage with great interest. Herm Edwards, one of the leading ESPN commentators and football greats, provided his own evaluation of Romo’s career that I found to be a great analysis. The Romo story is one for the record books. A Junior College quarterback who became an NFL backup begging for a spot, rose to the top by earning one of the most demanding and prestigious positions in all of football—the quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. And like it or not, Romo was a great quarterback. According to Herm Edwards, Romo had two strikes against him that he couldn’t control.
#1, Romo played in a city that demanded success, and due to the tremendous success of the early 90’s, Dallas had a stiffer definition for success than that of Philadelphia or Cleveland. Success in Big D is only achieved by winning a Super Bowl. Romo never got there.
#2, Romo followed one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, Troy Aikman. Though there were several miserable seasons between the Aikman era and the Romo era when Dallas desperately searched for their franchise quarterback, Romo was the next legacy; and following a great like Troy Aikman isn’t easy. Edwards even compared it to Danny White following Roger Staubach. White was also a great quarterback, but not great enough, because of the hero he followed. Even if Romo had won two Super Bowls, he would have never been as good as Aikman, who won three.
Nevertheless, an era has passed, and even with the excitement of Dak’s future, the way Romo’s career ended is sorrowful. My hat is off to him.
But there’s a spiritual thought to this article, lest you think it’s just about football. Many get discouraged with their Christian life and legacy for those same reasons.
It’s easy to allow people to place unreasonable expectations on us. This was a big problem with the Pharisees who imposed rules and traditions on the people that not even they could follow. Jesus phrased it this way: “…you tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but you aren’t willing to lift a finger to move them.” (Matthew 23:4)
And, we get discouraged when we compare our faith to others’ faith. Our knowledge to their knowledge. Our record to their record. Our image to their image. Even preachers can feel like they live in the shadow of the preacher before them, never being able to write their own story, establish their own influence, or leave their own legacy. That’s a tough place to be.
But God never intended Christianity to work that way.
In fact, the apostle Paul told the church at Philippi in Philippians 3:16, “Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” Paul makes this statement in a chapter about finding and defining value in the wrong things and the wrong places. Paul even quotes his own spiritual résumé by saying he was a Jew, from the best tribe, with the best education and understanding of the law. But his only value was found in Christ Jesus—which is why He wanted to “…know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings…” (Philippians 3:10)
So what have you attained? If you’re in Christ, Christ simply asks you to be His representation on earth. To be His disciple. To live a holy life. To serve people. To love God more than anything else. And that calling doesn’t depend on those around you or on those who came before you. It only depends on you. It’s your calling.
So take some pressure off. Just be yourself. And remember…because of God’s grace, Jesus’ blood, and the Holy Spirit’s presence in your life, you’re always a success.
One more thing: “How bout them Cowboys?”