Bible Gateway interviewed Tim Tebow (@TimTebow) about his book, Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms (WaterBrook, 2016).
What does your book’s title Shaken mean to you? Why did you choose it?
Tim Tebow: The reason I titled it Shaken was because in life you’re going to have highs and lows. There are going to be great times, and there are going be tough times. So, who was I when I won the Heisman Trophy versus when I got cut three times—well, maybe four times—in the NFL? Was I the person that was praised by presidents or the person that was debated and scrutinized by most of the media? So, who was I? Am I that person who I was at the high or am I that person who had all those lows?
I’m so thankful because of my relationship with Jesus Christ and being adopted in the family of God that I don’t have to live the highs and the lows and the roller coaster that the rest of the world lives, because I know where my identity lies. My identity lies as a child of God, and that’s something that will never be shaken.
Why did you decide now was the right time to share some of these personal experiences?
Tim Tebow: It’s something that God put on my heart. I’ve been traveling for the last three or four years speaking all over and being able to see so many people in today’s society that are searching for a firm foundation. They’re searching for identity, and I feel like this book is about identity; about not being shaken. To have a firm foundation as a child of God is something that so many people are longing for and wanting because they’re searching for something more. There’s got to be more out there. What is it? Well, I can tell you what it is. It’s a relationship with the God of this universe, who loves you so much. That’s what is it. That’s what you’re searching for. That’s what you’re longing for, and that’s what you need.
In those places of doubt and even darkness I’ve realized that who I am has nothing to do with wins or losses, applause, or negative criticism. It has to do with whose I am. Knowing this, I can live out what the king of ancient Israel wrote in Psalm 16:8: I have set the Lord continually before me; Because he is my right hand, I will not be shaken.
You’ve had to deal with issues of self-identity, such as fear, doubt, and criticism on a much bigger scale than most of us. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Tim Tebow: I’m a people pleaser by nature, and I want to make everybody happy. But at the same time, it’s not fulfilling to make everybody happy. What’s fulfilling is to stand for something that’s right. Now that doesn’t mean you’re going to be perfect. We’re going to fall and we’re going to mess up every day, but we can at least try to stand for something. When you stand for something, then you won’t fall for everything else around you. For me, my goal is to be able to impact as many people as possible for something good, for something right; to be able to leave a legacy of something bigger than myself—not for winning games, not for scoring touchdowns, but that Jesus Christ has changed my life. You can love God, and you can love people. There’s more to this world than money, fame, and power. You can have an impact, no matter who you are; no matter what platform. No matter how big or small of a role model, there’s someone watching you. There’s a life that you can change. There’s a life that you can impact.
For me, it’s to be able to see that every life matters. Every life matters—no matter where, no matter how big, no matter how small. I’ve been able to see that in so many of the trips that we’ve taken around the world. That’s been something that’s been so eye-opening to me. I share that concept with everyone I come in contact with, so that we can unite around people. We can unite around one nation under God here, and we can unite that everybody matters. I think in this day and age right now, it’s important. People need to be able to see something bigger than themselves.
How do the things you’ve learned about identity differ from what our culture teaches?
Tim Tebow: Wow, I think our culture right now is a culture that’s trying to find itself. They’re trying to figure out what is it? Is it social media followers? Is it trying to be popular? Is it money? Is it fame? Is it power? They’re searching for identity and so many of us have been there, and we’ll get back to that place of what is our identity? Who are we? More importantly, whose are we? For me, I find my identity in a relationship with Christ.
I’ve also seen that in so many of my role models. So many people that have gone before me that I’ve been able to see—wow, I want what he has. I want what she has. I’ve seen what they have and wow, they have peace no matter where they’re at. They have assurance no matter what they’re going through. It was fun in this book to be able to highlight role models of mine that have been able to find a firm foundation in whose they are no matter what life throws at them.
What does it mean to you to stay grounded?
Tim Tebow: I think staying grounded is one of the hardest things we’ll ever do in our lives. It’s always back and forth. To be able to stay grounded, we need to live with open hands that everything that we have has been given to us by the creator of this universe. He can take it, and he can give it back to us. He can take some things, and he can give us new things. When a door closes, a new one is going to open.
Where we start to lose it is when we start to grasp onto what we think is ours. No, this is mine. No, that’s my career. That’s my money. That’s my platform. But really, no, it’s yours, God. It’s not mine. You might lend it to me for a little while. You might let me hold onto it. You might let me use it for a little bit, but that’s not mine; it’s yours. Thank you for letting me use that for a little while. I think that’s what staying grounded means.
In what ways have you found reaching out to others as an important part of the process of getting and staying grounded?
Tim Tebow: Ah, I think it’s huge. I think that’s what the church really is. It’s not a building. It’s not the logos out front. It’s not the denominations that we’re part of. No, it’s the people that we get to do life with. It’s the people that have courageous conversations with us. It’s the people that love us. It’s the people that invest in us. It’s the people we get to do life with. And we also get to share with them. It’s being able to have those people in our lives who we’re able to inspire and they’re able to inspire us. When we’re down, they pick us up. When they’re down, we pick them up. Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
How important is serving others to your identity?
Tim Tebow: Well, I feel like the closest that we get to fulfilling our calling is making a difference in other people’s lives. I feel like it’s different for everybody. Our purpose and our calling are different. We’re all called to do different things. But some way, somehow, it has to be impacting other people. If not, what are you doing? How does it have an impact? How does it have an eternal impact? It has to be investing in other people, somehow making a difference in their lives. When we do that, I really believe that we’ll fulfill why we’re here and what we’re supposed to do.
What role has the Bible played in your life and career?
Tim Tebow: The Bible is God’s love story to us. It’s changed everything in my life and means everything to me.
How has the Bible sustained you in the midst of public criticism?
Tim Tebow: During tough times I can always go back to it and find encouragement. The Bible tells us what God says about us. In it, we read about how much he loves us and that he’s got a plan and a purpose for our lives.
What’s your favorite Bible passage and why?
Tim Tebow: John 3:16. It’s the essence of Christianity and the essence of our hope.
What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?
Tim Tebow: It’s extremely easy to use and get familiar with God’s Word.
Bio: Tim Tebow is a two-time national champion, first round NFL draft pick, and Heisman trophy winner. After playing in the NFL for the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets, Tebow joined the SEC Network. In addition to his role on SEC Nation, the network’s traveling road show, Tebow also contributes to a variety of other ESPN platforms. Through everything Tim’s true passion remains the work of the Tim Tebow Foundation which he began in 2010. The foundation’s mission is to bring faith, hope, and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need. The foundation is fulfilling that mission everyday by serving thousands of deserving children around the world. Tim is the author of Everything in Between (DVD), Through My Eyes, Shaken, Shaken Bible Study (DVD), and the forthcoming What God Says About You: Believing in Yourself When Others Don’t.
Tim’s writing partner is A.J. Gregory, known for over 35 book collaborations—some New York Times bestsellers—with fascinating high-profile figures from celebrities to scientists. She’s also the author of Messy Faith: Daring to Live by Grace and Silent Savior: Daring to Believe He’s Still There. A.J. calls New Jersey, and her husband and three kids, home. Learn more at www.ajgregorybooks.com.
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