MEN OF GOD SPOTLIGHT :: DWIGHT HOWARD
This Basketball phenom takes a stand for God.
Who is he:
After graduating high school, most of us had dreams of graduating from college and being successful in a particular career. We envisioned the house that we would have, the car that we would drive, and many of the luxuries that we would enjoy based upon our hard work. Dwight Howard had a different vision for his life.
Blessed with an amazing talent in basketball, he dreamed of going straight to the NBA. A McDonald’s All-American and Gatorade Player of the Year out of Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, Dwight became a guaranteed lottery pick in the NBA draft. His goal had been to be the first overall pick and the Orlando Magic made that dream a into a reality by selecting Dwight with the first pick of the 2004 NBA Draft. He was young, talented, and now he had become extremely wealthy. What would the effect of his fame be on who he was as a person?
Dwight is known not only for his game, but also for his faith in Christ. He publicly talked about his goal of changing the image of the NBA. The NBA has image has been criticized for years, tarnished by player’s attitudes and arrests. Dwight talked about his vision of a cross being incorporated into the NBA logo, even though revealing this vision could lead to persecution and the loss of money in endorsements. He discussed ways that he would share his faith with other players in the league as well as fans that he met along the way. While so many other stars in professional sports concern themselves with the popularity and money, Dwight’s main concern has remained the same: to be used by God, in a position that God has placed him in, to show people the love of Christ.
Dwight has vowed to keep from compromising his faith in his business affairs, as well as in his actions. He promised to avoid any situations that would cause people to question his faith or turn people away from Christ. The words were there, but could he live up to it? He had placed himself under the microscope of a world that loves to see Christians fall.
What can we learn from him:
Most of us enjoy being seen and getting attention. At nineteen years old, few people can handle fame and wealth while trying to stand firm to their convictions. Most would fall into the traps that Satan had set up, but Dwight keeps his guard up, understanding that there is a greater reward for standing firm and avoiding the temporary pleasures that the world has to offer. Dwight stands on a court each night with thousands of people chanting his name. For many of us, it would be easy to get caught up in the moment, yet Dwight sees it as an opportunity to shift the spotlight to Christ.
He lives out a faith that is the foundation of his family. This faith, more electrifying than anything he has ever done in a game, is not simply a life choice, but rather an entire way of life. His entourage consists of his father and a cousin who live with him and help him along the way, to avoid falling into the temptations that are so prevalent in our society. He has talked with David Robinson, former center of the San Antonio Spurs, seeking advice on how to stay strong in this new life that he is living.
Dwight’s faith has brought about the question of marketability of a Christian. The belief is that many companies will shy away from someone with such an outspoken faith. Though this could be a reality, the whole issue does not seem to bother Dwight. He simply says that he will get the amount of money that God wants him to have and that it will be used to glorify God, not himself. There are athletes who will hold out because they are only making $10 million and they want more, but Dwight emerges with an attitude of sacrifice. He understands that it could cost him, but if it does, God will have a plan for him regardless of what endorsements he obtains.
He plays the game of basketball because of the love that he has for a sport, but his life is lived in a such a manner to show people who is his first love. He speaks of the most important person in his life, Jesus Christ. He has a goal and a dream: to change this world, one person at a time.