Why Does Tebow Succeed?

Tim Tebow’s extraordinary season with the Broncos is the most remarkable storyline in sports this year. I have never seen anything like it. He has captured the attention of the nation, and everyone seems to have an opinion about how to explain the improbable run that he is having right now. The most fascinating thing to me is to see self-avowed secularists trying to sort this out. Yet another such writer with very little appreciation for the faith of Tim Tebow weighs-in on the phenome in the New York Times. Frank Bruni writes:

In a league full of blithe felons, Tebow and his oppressive piety don’t seem like such horrendous affronts at all…

BUT Tebow tends to have his worst 45 minutes of play when it matters least and his best 15 when it matters most. And while he makes many mistakes, their cost is seldom exorbitant. These aren’t so much skills as tendencies — inclinations — that prove to be every bit as consequential as the stuff of rankings and record books. He reminds us that strength comes in many forms and some people have what can be described only as a gift for winning, which isn’t synonymous with any spreadsheet inventory of what it supposedly takes to win…

It’s easy to be pessimistic about optimism. When peddled generically by unctuous politicians, it can seem the ultimate opiate, a cop-out and fallback when there’s nothing more substantive to sustain you. But optimism can have an impact. It’s what radiates from Tebow and fires up the Broncos. And therein lies a lesson about leadership with a resonance beyond football.

After Tebow took over, the Broncos didn’t add a whole, half or even quarter roster of better players. But he told his teammates, “Believe in me.” And he must have done so with a persuasive charisma. They clearly have a renewed belief in themselves — and are performing better than before.

The Broncos are the talk of the league. More and more people are watching. And you could indeed say they’re tuning in to find out how far God can take a team. Because that’s just another way of saying how far grit can.

Bruni is correct to say that there is a “lesson about leadership” in Tebow’s story. If you want to understand why Tebow succeeds, listen to the interviews with his teammates. As much as anything, the Bronco’s success on the field has to be attributed to Tebow’s ability to inspire his team to achieve. Tebow believes he’ll win because of his team, and now his team believes the same. It sounds trite, but Tebow’s gift is his ability to motivate his guys to believe not just in him but in each other. That kind of leadership is rare, but I think it’s precisely what Tebow has.

I think the kinds of gifts that Tebow has ultimately come from God. In that sense, there is some divine intervention going on in the Bronco’s season. In that sense, it is also right to give credit where credit is due.

Read the rest here.

14 Responses to Why Does Tebow Succeed?

  1. David Schrock December 12, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    Denny,

    Did Frank Bruni paraphrase the plotline of Facing the Giants, “More and more people are watching. And you could indeed say they’re tuning in to find out how far God can take a team” ? Of course, he takes it away in the next line, but nevertheless, we are watching a kind of real life Facing the Giants story.

    I, for one, am looking forward to the next scene.

    Blessings, dss

    • Denny Burk December 12, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

      Hey, Dave. He might be paraphrasing that movie. I just think that even though it sounds trite to say it, this really is the story about a team and a guy who inspires them to believe and to play together and for each other. For people who’ve never been on a team like this, I think it’s very difficult to explain adequately how powerful it is.

    • Denny Burk December 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

      P.S. I want to see it continue as well. There’s nothing that would make me happier than to see him beat Tom Brady and the Patriots next week.

      • donsands December 12, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

        So be it.

      • David Schrock December 13, 2011 at 12:59 am #

        Agreed. I don’t usually keep up with NFL games, but I will this Sunday.

  2. donsands December 12, 2011 at 12:07 pm #

    Excellent thought on our brother Tim. What a great game to watch last night!
    And I wonder, the Broncos Defense seems to be quite a good, and factors in, as well as their kicker, who was incredible yesterday;-Prater, I think his name is.

    But, the Broncos will not get past the Ravens, I’m afraid to say. Though i hope Tebow comes to Baltimore for the AFC Champsionship game.

  3. Dillon December 12, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    We were out running a few errands and heard that Chicago had recovered the onside kick. Just a minute or two after that we arrived to where we were going and didn’t think anything else of it – the Bronco’s had lost. Or so assumed. Unbelievable. What’s remarkable is that if you’re saying that God is working through Tebow, which I believe He is, then you have to believe that Marion Barber ran out of bounds because he was compelled to and that the circumstances of the fumble were also ordained, which they were. So it’s not just Tebow but God making the hundreds of little decisions in a few minutes time, which, of course, for the Creator of the universe, is nothing at all. There are angels on the football field.

  4. Scott December 12, 2011 at 5:49 pm #

    Brady will hang 35+ on Denver. When that happens, will folks claim that God wills it with the same enthusiasm?

    • Denny Burk December 12, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

      Scott, almost no one (including Tebow) is saying that God favors one team over another. You are missing the point.

  5. Dillon December 12, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    ” Brady will hang 35+ on Denver. When that happens, will folks claim that God wills it with the same enthusiasm? ”

    And if God sent a boy into battle with a slingshot against a giant what do we think the result of that would be? 🙂

    • Job December 13, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

      David’s slaying Goliath was in accordance with God’s purposes of delivering Israel from Philistine oppression, and ultimately His publicly identifying David as the king and political leader of His chosen people, and was also a type of Jesus Christ and who also was Jesus Christ’s ancestor in an earthly sense. As I stated in an earlier comment (which apparently is still in moderation) if you have any inkling of whatever Godly purposes is being fulfilled by Tim Tebow being the starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos, it is your obligation to share it. Otherwise, please refrain from making very inappropriate Biblical comparisons and references. David’s slaying Goliath was a great miracle and monumental event in the life of a person who played a large role in salvation history. Not something that Christians should be in the business of comparing football players and games to. And if you were, please pick a better “Goliath” than a 3rd place in their division Chicago Bears team playing backups at QB and RB.

      • Dillon December 13, 2011 at 7:52 pm #

        Lol, lighten up Francis. 🙂

  6. KRC December 13, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    Job, I believe the presence of a 🙂 means that he was joking. Chill out just a bit. Though I will agree that the Bears hardly seem goliath-like

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  1. What would Karl Barth say about Tim Teabow « Euangelion - January 10, 2012

    […] that this whole God and Teabow thing is starting to get a bit rich for my liking. Even my own buddy Denny Burk writes that: “I think the kinds of gifts that Tebow has ultimately come from God. In that […]

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