Impacting the Community with LaDanian Tomlinson
LaDainian Tomlinson is no stranger to running. He spent eleven seasons as a running back in the NFL. He was invited to five Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro six times. In 2017, Tomlinson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Off the field, Tomlinson is known for his heart for his community. While he was in San Diego, he helped feed 2,000 families dinner each Thanksgiving as part of “Giving Thanks with LT,” and now serves as an Ambassador for DAV (Disabled American Veterans). Risen caught up with Tomlinson in 2018 to talk about why he is passionate about helping others.
Tomlinson reflects on how he uses the platform God has given him.
“By serving in my community and getting out and doing things that are needed. For example, we give out scholarships to graduating seniors that are wanting to go to college. Most of these kids are first-generation college attendees. You talk about changing a generation of a family by helping these kids go to college so that they can get an education and a better life. Even beyond that, feeding the homeless people. Everybody has a purpose to me, even a homeless person. It makes me feel good when I can go out and serve the homeless person by just getting them a meal. That’s what we have been doing for years. We even did it when I was in San Diego. We had a Thanksgiving program called, ‘Giving Thanks with LT,’ where we gave out 2,100 Thanksgiving dinners every Thanksgiving for ten years. It was just something I feel called to do because of the blessings I’ve had. I’ve made it to the top of my professional and all those things that come with being a professional athlete. It’s important for us to get out in our community and serve those people there because those are the people that cheer you on. For some, they look at you as their hero and you inspire them. The least I can do is just have them see my faith. Not just on TV, but interact with them and have them know that I am a real person. It inspires many people.”
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:1-4
Tomlinson shares on the type of legacy that he would like to leave.
“ I just want to leave a legacy as someone who really cared about the community and always did whatever it took to serve that community and leave a lasting impression on it. But also, that my kids would be proud of their last name. That means a lot to me. The last name signifies the history and tradition in a lot of ways; the past, the present and the future. If I can leave them a great last name, that legacy to me is as good as it can be, leaving my kids a great last name.”
Serve others. Each of us has been given a unique set of gifts and talents from God. They are designed to bring glory to Him. If you don’t know what your gifts and talents are, you can take a spiritual gifts test or ask a friend, small group or ministry leader you serve with for some feedback. It can be helpful to get feedback from others. They often see things in us that we don’t see in ourselves. Once you identify your gifts and talents, pray and ask God how you can use them to serve Him. It might be volunteering in a ministry at church, it might mean starting a non-profit or group or using your gifts and talents to do an outreach. The possibilities are endless.
Leave a legacy. Whether you are a teenager or in your twilight years, each of us has the opportunity to leave a legacy. Take time this week to step back and reflect on the type of legacy that you want to leave and how you want others to remember you. Think through people in your life that have made an impact on you and the similar type of impact you want to have on someone else. Pray and ask God if there are things that you need to step away from that are taking away from your legacy or things that you need to take a step of faith to do.
Use your platform. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to use your platform to honor God. Each of us has a platform. For some it is the classmates that surround them, for others it is the co-workers you see on a daily basis, and for others it could be your neighbors or people you interact with on a daily basis. Ask God how He wants you to use your platform to reach others for His kingdom. It could be sharing your faith with someone or doing, inviting someone to church, or hosting a small group at your house.
To read our entire interview with LaDanian Tomlinson, click here.
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