Monday, March 9, 2009

Terrell Owens, an Object Lesson

Terrell Owens’ problem certainly isn’t talent. The guy can play football! He’s fast, he’s sneaky, he’s got great moves, and really good hands. His record shows his ability – in 13 seasons, he has caught 951 balls for 14,122 yards and 139 touchdowns. He is second only to the great Jerry Rice in all-time receiving touchdowns. In addition, he has scored another two touchdowns running, for a grand total of 141. No, his problem is not talent.

Terrell Owens’ problem is that he thinks it’s all about Terrell Owens! And his penchant for self-promotion has caused him to be at the center of controversy at team after team. His well publicized feuds with coaches and quarterbacks are a constant distraction during the season. T.O. was always making statements to the press about how important he was to the team, and how he was unappreciated and underutilized, and it always seems that after a few years, the disruptive elements outweigh the talent, and T.O. is looking for another team. He was released by the 49ers in 2003, after 7 years. He then played two years at Philadelphia, then three at Dallas. And now he is once again without a team.

Terrell Owens is not the kind of employee any of us really want. Or want to be! Employers all want people working for them who are good at their jobs. That’s a no brainer. But employers also want employees who can do their jobs without disrupting everything – employees who don’t cause trouble! When I worked as a supervisor, I used to give my people 4 Rules for Keeping Me Happy:

  1. Show up – be on time and ready to work

  2. Shut up – don’t mouth off, gossip, or disparage your co-workers, your job, your boss, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your husband or wife, your friends, or your dog or cat, while at work. Don’t cause problems.

  3. Do your job – know what you are supposed to do, and how to do it, and DO IT

  4. Go home – when your job is done, and you time is up, go home, and don’t distract or annoy other people who are trying to do their jobs

Terrell Owens is not the kind of employee that the Bible tells us who follow Jesus to be.

Paul told the church in Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 4:11) to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business…” Now, by “a quiet life,” Paul does not mean an obscure or unknown life. While most of us will never be known outside of a relatively small circle, some of us may be known nationally or, even, internationally. By “a quiet life,” Paul means an untroublesome life and a life that is not lived in order to draw attention to ourselves. There is nothing wrong with being noticed (Matthew 5:16,) but we are not to do what we do in order to be noticed and/or praised (Matthew 6:1.)

In Colossians, Paul writes, “Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,” (Colossians 3:22-23 NASB) Christians are to work for our employers at the same level of intensity, and with the same level of dedication, that we should work for Jesus Himself! We are not to work to please our boss, but our God.

Terrell Owens is an object lesson in the type of employee we are not supposed to be, but are we being the type of employee that God’s Word commands us to be?

UPDATE: Terrel Owens has been signed to play for the Buffalo Bills next fall.