This month’s featured athlete is a Super Bowl champion long snapper who played for the Seattle Seahawks and, more importantly, is a man of strong faith. Clint Gresham is now an international speaker and just released a book titled, Becoming: Loving the Process to Wholeness “which unfolds a gripping and inspirational reality check, reminding us all that the point of life is not the destination, but the journey. Each of us is in the process of becoming who God designed us to be.” Clint provided Play4Him great insight into how he found worth in God and not through his status as a professional athlete.
First off, can you tell us about your book you just released and how you have seen God work throughout the process?
The book is a story which taps into all of things that make up what it means to walk in “wholeness.” I define wholeness as giving up hope for a better past, relinquishing control for a perfect future, and choosing joy and courage right where your feet are. It shows how much of the Seahawks coaching philosophy regarding “the process,” can be traced back to scripture. It will also show people the “false fathers,” which are the things we all look to for love and identity, and show them how to build their life on “the rock.” It’s also about my own story of wholeness and choosing joy. It took a year of my life. I started writing after the Seahawks cut me. It was shocking. I had two years left on my contract. I was at the top for a long time. I decided I gotta figure out who am I. It’s helped me navigate my own identity as a football player. Life is about transitions and I think many will hear their voice on these pages.
What are the best stories you’ve received from readers?
Biggest thing is people saying “I thought I was the only one dealing with these doubts, etc.” Church is fantastic because it gives us views of success but those views can turn to judgment. Truth is, we’re all working through something. We need to show others our scars. We can find freedom. “Doubting” Thomas says ‘Let me see the scars on the hands and I’ll believe.” I appreciate Thomas’ honesty. Even though he was wrong, he was right to share struggle. It changed his life. A lot of believers are unwilling to show scars. Scared to look bad. We should want to be authentic.
How has writing this helped you personally?
Writing this book helped me grieve the death of my identity as a football player. All of us tend to put our identity in the thing which makes us feel the most significant. Writing this, helped solidify my identity in Jesus.
When did you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior?
I love stories of people who have specific moments. I don’t have one and don’t think people should feel pressure to have one either. It’s a process. We make that decision every day. Yeah, I’ve had mountaintop experiences but I say today and every day I’m gonna choose Jesus despite what flesh and emotions tell me.
Tell us about your experience being baptized in the Jordan River. That must’ve been an amazing experience.
It was so crazy. Just being in Israel was insane - to walk where Jesus walked. It was an inspiring moment and made the Bible come alive. Something I reflect back on all the time.
You can say for the rest of your life, “I’m a Super Bowl champion.” You’ve reached the ultimate goal athletically. What is that like?
All of us said for months, “I keep waiting for it to sink in that we won.” I realized what we all meant was “I keep waiting for this thing to make me happy like I thought it would, and it hasn’t.” It didn’t make all my insecurities go away. It’s cool to show people when I go to speak somewhere around the world, but ultimately anything we look to that is external for significance, has the potential to create a fragile life.
Do you ever have a time while playing with the Seahawks where God provided you a divine appointment that sticks out among the rest?
I actually talk about that in the book. There was a teammate that always brought watches to games or when we were traveling. He must have had over $100,000 worth of watches. I told him “You’re more than that,” and he said “I’ve got an image to uphold Gresh”. I know he believed what I said, but sometimes It’s too scary to make changes when we are afraid of what others will think. The praise of people is addicting. Everyone wants to be loved, wants to be significant.
Another story… I lead a men's group. 10-15 guys. One guy started crying because he was scared of getting cut from the team. He said “Man, I cant do anything else.” I was watching this guy’s identity slip through his fingers. I’ve had lots of conversations to help guys make transitions. Every athlete becomes a former athlete at some point.
Is there a specific verse you live by? If so, what is it and why?
John 3:17. I always sign that on autographs. Its says,“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” I think that was one of the biggest hurdles I see with non-believers. They think God is a condemning jerk. God came to bring hope. He didn’t come to condemn; He came to save.
You’re now an inspirational speaker that has spoken at many churches, conferences and venues. How do you prepare spiritually for each event?
A lot of it is trusting my own preparation. I learned that in football. Just like any other skill, you practice and you get more confident. I recognize that I don't have all of the answers. People appreciate honesty. I share my story, heart, insecurities, doubts, etc. Because of that, it’s less of a performance. Like I did when I played, I’ll watch video and see what I could have done better. I try to be honest and truthful with myself.
Who has made the biggest impact on your life spiritually?
It’s actually the guy that I dedicated my book to, Phil Pratt who was my second cousin. He was my spiritual father. He passed away on Father's Day last year. He was a father to so many people. He influenced the beginning of a major change in my life.
What advice would you give to athletes wanting to go pro. How do you suggest they prepare physically and spiritually?
Focus on what you have control over - body language, attitude and work ethic. Never compare yourself to others. Every year I had to fight for my job but I would never compare myself to the guys the Seahawks brought in. Always choose to be the best you every day.
Also, Young Life is a huge part of my story. I had a life outside of football, which is very important. And because it was all about serving others, it helped me see that their was more to life than a sport.
Finally, What does Play4Him mean to you?
The title is everything. We play for Him. That guards are heart from performing for people. God is interested in your heart. He's not disappointed by our play. The reasons we feel we let people down is that we play for them. That can’t be the main thing. What has to be greater is the pursuit of honoring God, your sport and doing it all for Him.
If you want to learn more about Clint you can go to ClintGresham.com. Read his blog, check out resources for his new book along with the workbook that accompanies Becoming. You can also follow Clint on Twitter and Instagram @gresh49 and like his page on Facebook, Clint Gresham.