This story appears in FCA Magazine’s November/December 2017 issue. Subscribe today!
The motivation behind the pursuit — and the corresponding journey — usually begins at an early age. It starts with a dream; young children envision reaching their goal. Soon enough, they’re sweating through drills under the scorching sun, examining how older players are doing it, how they prepare and train to become accomplished football stars.
Every college football player takes their own path before arriving on campus to play on Saturdays in front of thousands, but there’s one common theme: They worked incredibly hard to get there.
For Christian athletes, that effort and energy 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. 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 its eighth-annual college football player profiles. This year’s edition features Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph and 40 other Christ-following student-athletes from around the country. They all shared why and how they pursue a relationship with Jesus, and the impact He has had on their lives and football careers.
“In fact, they got worse,” Rudolph said. “But I had this peace and this hope for a better future that I never had. My spirit changed, my attitude changed, the way I perceived things changed. I was certainly a long way from perfect, but I knew there was a purpose for my life because I met the Creator of my life.”
FCA Magazine Q&A with Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
#2 – Sr./QB/Rock Hill, South Carolina
FCA: Why do you passionately pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ?
MR: Growing up with my family, my grandfather being a minister, I was always around the gospel. Once I made it to college, my faith had to become my own. 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.
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.
FCA Magazine Devotional:
By Mason Rudolph,
I want to be the guy who speaks up no matter the environment. I'm going to stand for who I am and for my faith... Read more
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.
View and download the FCA Magazine desktop and mobile digital wallpaper featuring Mason Rudolph here.
To read the remaining college football player profiles, click here.
FCA Magazine Devotional
For Oklahoma State senior quarterback Mason Rudolph, the routines of his football career and his Christian faith are intertwined.
Rudolph has dedicated much of his life to becoming a better player through a rigorous schedule, including practices, film sessions and strength training. But he also puts his life — including, of course, his football career — in the hands of God through his faith routine: reading the Bible, connecting with the Lord through worship and prayer, growing through discipleship with mentors, and attending weekly Bible studies with his teammates.
In reflecting upon his life verse, Isaiah 6:8, Rudolph penned the following devotional as an inspiration to readers to step forward and go when God is calling.
By Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State
“Then I heard the Lord asking, ‘Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?’ I said, ‘Here I am. Send me.’” — Isaiah 6:8
I want to be the guy who speaks up no matter the environment. Whether it’s at practice or a game, in our weekly Bible study, in class, or around the community of Stillwater, I’m going to stand for who I am and for my faith.
I’ve always loved Isaiah 6:8. There is so much to be taken from that verse. Isaiah hears the voice of the Lord asking whom He should send as a messenger to the people. “Who will go for us?” And Isaiah speaks up and says, “Here I am. Send me.”
In the same way, I want to constantly be aware of God speaking to me, asking when and where I’ll be His messenger. I have opportunities every day to respond to that call with the people around me — leading my team and making an impact on and off campus. I pray God would give me the strength and endurance to fulfill His calling in my life on a daily basis.
Here are five specific ways I’ve incorporated Isaiah 6:8 into my life and football career:
1. Speak up whenever needed or given the opportunity.
2. Don’t shy away from challenges that come my way.
3. Have a “never give up” attitude.
4. Want the ball. Seize that opportunity to make a play at the end of the game.
5. Be actively responsible for helping guide my team in the right direction.
That’s how I’m answering God’s calling in my life and in my career. But how does it look in yours? As God gives us opportunities to be leaders, are you listening to His voice? Are you ready to say, “Here I am, Lord. Send me.” Take that step and trust that He’ll guide and direct you. You just have to be willing to accept the call and go.
• How do you feel this message applies directly to your life and athletic career?
• When have you heard God calling you to be His messenger on your team or in your community? How did you respond?
• Who is one person you can share this message with as an encouragement to them or as accountability for you to follow through with listening to God’s calling?
Heavenly Father, I know You are constantly at work in my life. Please help me be attentive to Your voice and aware of the opportunities You give me every day to be your messenger. Strengthen me in boldness and courage to accept Your calling, wherever it may lead. When I hear Your voice, may I always say, “Here I am. Send me.” Amen.
Photos courtesy of Oklahoma State Athletics