What The Pros Can Teach Us

Broke is the latest installment in ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary series. It details the stories of high profile athletes who lost millions of dollars and ended up bankrupt. Director Billy Corben describes it as “a step by step guide, How To Lose millions of Dollars Without Breaking a Sweat.” It might surprise you to learn that in 2009 Sports Illustrated estimated that 60% of former NBA players are broke within 2 years of retirement. Another study shows that 78% of former NFL players are either bankrupt or under significant financial stress.

Some of the problems suffered by athletes are unique to their particular situation. Often family and friends hope to benefit from the signing of a big contract. Athletic careers are shorter than most athletes expect with the average NFL career only lasting 3.5 years. They are often subject to very bad investment advice. But no doubt some of the financial mess that players end up in is due to simple overspending. Having struck it rich, they want to live the life of luxury they dreamed of.

And who can blame them? Even those of us who have never played the lottery have dreamed about how we’d spend the winnings. That’s why it is important to stop and learn from those who have what most of us only dream about. And what we learn from them is that it doesn’t satisfy.

Even if you aren’t the athletic type and never dreamed of making it to the “big leagues,” I’m sure that you have a dream about your own version of a storybook life. Most professional athletes always wanted to make it to the pros and have dedicated most of their life to that goal. Having accomplished it, they aren’t satisfied so they often turn to money. Money becomes a way to measure respect, satisfy their desires, and give them security. But that’s asking money to do things that it was never intended to do.

All this brings us back to the famous (at least at The Crossing it’s famous) quote by Blaise Pascal: “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man, which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the creator, made known through Jesus Christ.” Pascal, who died in 1662, had incredible insight into the human heart. Like a vacuum our heart sucks in things trying to find happiness and satisfaction. But nothing in this world will fill that hole.

The hole in our heart can only be filled by Jesus. He is the living water that satisfies our thirst. He’s the eternal food that satisfies the hunger of our soul.

Psalm 4:7 You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound.

There’s a kind of joy that comes when things go right in your life. There’s a happiness that comes when circumstances go your way. But in this psalm David tells us that God gives a joy that exceeds a happiness based on circumstances. God gives a joy that is better than anything in this life can offer.

Films like “Broke” are good for me to watch because they teach me that nothing in this world satisfies like Jesus. Look to him for your joy and you will never end up bankrupt.

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