NFL Quarterback Carson Wentz: An Audience of One
In the following article, Stephen Glasser, a Chi Alpha campus missionary at North Dakota State University (NDSU) in Fargo, shares his view of the faith journey of his friend, Carson Wentz.
Like many kids, I dreamed of becoming an NFL quarterback. That dream came to a screeching halt when I didn't meet my city league's minimum weight requirement in fifth grade.
Carson Wentz has a different story. His dream became a reality when he was drafted second overall in the 2016 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles.
Carson and I have different journeys, but our paths crossed at North Dakota State University. I had close friendships with some of Carson's former teammates and would often have them over for supper and games. One day after a game, I was out on the field to congratulate them. When I walked past Carson he asked, "'When are you going to invite me over for supper?'" And so, our friendship began.
When I met Carson, he already had a solid relationship with Jesus. His Christian teammates had helped him realize there was more to life than football. Over the next couple of years, we met together regularly to talk, read the Bible, and pray. Oh, and eat. We did a lot of eating.
I began to understand something about Carson. Although he was a rising football star, he was just like every other student I have met. He craved deep and authentic relationship with God and people. He had an unmet need for true friendship in his life. He was surrounded by people, but lacked true Christian community.
Chi Alpha became that community for Carson. He began attending our weekly on-campus worship service as often as he could as well as our Sunday night service at a local church in Fargo, North Dakota.
Over those two years, Carson's faith continued to grow. During his senior season, he started to help lead the football team's Bible study. He invited teammates and friends with him to Chi Alpha and to church. He became more bold and courageous in his faith.
One day, he texted me asking if we could meet. When I arrived at the student union, he was more excited than usual. He began to share with me that a former teammate hit rock bottom and called him the night before. His teammate told him he remembered Carson telling him about Jesus and he wanted to talk more about Carson's faith. That night, Carson led his teammate to the Lord on the couch in his basement.
It was like something clicked. Carson told me that he never felt so alive! God was opening his eyes to a greater purpose and mission for his life. He realized his identity was not in being a football player, but in being a follower of Christ.
Carson doesn't give partial effort to anything he does. He gives his all in everything. Academically, he was a 4.0 college student. Athletically, he practices and prepares as hard as he plays. When it comes to his faith, he is no different. I love that about Carson.
As Carson's faith grew in college, so did the spotlight that constantly followed him. Being a successful quarterback gave him a great amount of influence on campus. People knew he was different and he wasn't shy about telling people that Jesus had transformed his life.
Carson's success gave him a great platform to share Jesus Christ. The way he dealt with setback and adversity is what expanded his influence. Early into his senior season, he suffered an injury that nearly ended his college career. Although he was momentarily discouraged, he responded by worshipping God and pursuing Him more than ever and people noticed.
He was confident God had a plan through it all.
After over two months of rehabbing, Carson played one more game for NDSU, leading his team to their fifth consecutive FCS National Championship, claiming MVP honors along the way. His accomplishment took the nation by storm, becoming a daily talking point on ESPN.
His rise to the NFL has given him what he sees as a great opportunity and responsibility to share his faith. An opportunity that he doesn't take for granted. An opportunity that helps him remain focused on his true mission: reconciling people to Christ.
On his social media posts, Carson uses the hashtag #AO1, which stands for "Audience of One." The motto serves as a reminder to Carson that everything he does, he is to do it for the glory of God. It reminds him he truly is called to ministry right where he is. He desires to use his influence to make the name of Jesus Christ famous. That is how he lives his life.
That is how we all must live our lives. We all have a platform of influence. It may not be as an NFL athlete, but that doesn't make it any less significant. No matter what it is that you do, your purpose is to reconcile people to Christ. Regardless of your career, you are called to ministry. God has planted you where you are for a purpose. Don't take that opportunity for granted.
As a campus missionary, I have realized my influence far outstretches my campus. My job is to equip students to transform the university, the marketplace, and the world. Every day, I am reminded that God has created each student with infinite potential and I never know what God is going to call him or her to do.
When I met Carson, I never expected things to play out like they have. It is a great joy to be Carson's campus pastor and his friend. It is an honor to have a front row seat to witness all that God is doing through his life.
While all eyes are on Carson, his eyes remain focused on the Lord. He is committed to making the name of Jesus Christ famous. We would all be wise to do the same. We are all called to live our lives for an "Audience of One."