Kicking It with NFL Kicker Nick Novak
In football, the kicker is often put into high pressure situations where being an inch off could mean their team loses, or they get to go to the Superbowl. NFL Houston Texans kicker, Nick Novak, is no stranger to the pressure of the game. He has played with the San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins, and New York Jets. In the 2012 regular season, he went 18/20 (90%) field goal percentage, which was the third most efficient campaign in Chargers’ history. We interviewed Novak two years ago and talked about how he became a Christian and how having a Bible study with teammates deepened his faith.
“so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8
Novak opens up about how he became a Christian through the influences of Young Life, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Rock Church and other players.
“I remember in high school I went to Young Life events. Going to church was hit or miss based on soccer tournaments and things like that. I didn’t really go to my first Bible study until college at the University of Maryland. I met a strong group of believers there through the FCA [Fellowship of Christian Athletes]. And then I got saved when I was a Redskin. But I eventually realized that being saved is not a one-time thing. Being a Christian can be very difficult, and I just recently got saved again at an event at the Rock Church in San Diego… NFL wide-receiver Vincent Brown and I were actually saved on that same day of the event put on through the Rock. He’s become a great friend since I’ve been a Charger. He’s a guy I can really talk to. But Bible studies are probably the best opportunity for players to open up about what is going on in our lives. I have a great mentor, Paul Woodside, who I’ve known for about fifteen years, and he’s a kicking coach, and everything he teaches is faith-based. He relates the Bible to everything, and he has always mentored me through my whole career. But with players, if you know you’re like-minded, it’s just a matter of sitting down and talking. You can tell if a guy is a believer though, just in the way he carries himself and runs his household. A Christian man is a leader. It’s easy to see those characteristics in Stuckey or Rivers, for example. They lead in everything they do. But they come last in their households. They build everybody up; their kids, their wife. Instead of having the mindset of me-me-me, you don’t worry about yourself; you take care of your family.”
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Novak reflects on his experience with team Bible studies and being mentored by other players including Kurt Warner.
“The first experience I had with team Bible Studies was with Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals. It was the first time I started thinking, ‘it’s not all about me,’ and ‘I don’t have to be perfect.’ I could let go a little bit. Having Kurt as a mentor was huge. Then I went back to the Redskins and got connected with another strong Christian guy, Mark Burnell. I was always blessed to go to teams with spiritual leaders. And now, [on the Chargers] I have Darrell Stuckey, who is always speaking and constantly trying to grow, and as hard as it is to be a Christian- especially as a professional athlete- he is genuine and lives out his faith on a daily basis and is not fake about it. I’m lucky to have a lot of people to hold me accountable.”
Be a leader or mentor. Whether you are a pro athlete, student, professional or parent, chances are there is someone that is looking up to you. Each of us has an amazing opportunity to help others grow in their relationship with Christ. You don’t have to be perfect or have everything figured out. You just have to be willing to share your life with others. Pray and ask God to show you someone that you can mentor. Take time to journal some of the lessons you have learned in your relationship with Christ. It could be a trial and how you turned to God. It could be learning how to study the Bible or how to share your faith. Look at the Gospel and how the disciples passed the things they learned from Christ to others around them.
Round up others for a Bible study. It could be your teammates, friends, neighbors, or some acquaintances from church. Ask God to show you whom to invite. He might challenge you to invite people who are not Christians but have spiritual questions. Be open! There are lots of great Bible studies out there some even have videos so no one feels pressured to teach or lead. Use the Bible study as an opportunity to help each other grow in your faith. Take time to share what you learned, pray together and also take time outside of Bible study to have fun and share life with one another. This will make sharing things within the group easier.
Invite others to church or an outreach. Pray that God would show you who to reach out to. Look up local faith-based events that your teammate or friend would be open to going with you. It might be a concert, community clean-up or church service. After the event, ask your friend what they learned or what they thought. If the opportunity presents itself, share how you became a Christian.
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