Tim Tebow was in town with a message: Finish strong


It’s not every day you get to pray with Tim Tebow

In town Monday to give the keynote speech at the YMCA’s 9th annual Prayer Breakfast, the Florida Gator champion and proclaimer of God’s Word challenged nearly 500 guests to forego concerns like wins, losses, championships and trophies, and instead “finish strong” by living a life to make the heavenly Father proud.

“It’s so easy to get caught up in life. It’s been 10 years since I won the Heisman Trophy. People want to make it about fame and prestige,” he said. “But that’s not what matters.”

What does matter? Here’s Tebow’s take:

1. Fight for people who can’t fight for themselves. 

He recounted his first mission to the Philippines, where he visited a remote island at the top of a mountain and met Sherwin, a boy whose legs were on backward. All the village had come out to meet the Americans from the mission, but Sherwin had been urged to stay back. 

“They looked at him as cursed, less than and insignificant,” he said.

Tebow approached the boy, spoke with him and carried him to his Jeep.

“Once the village elders saw us, they began to slap Sherwin on the shoulder and congratulate him, as if to say, ‘you’re finally accepted.’”

"It’s amazing what worth can do in someone’s life, when we treat people the way God looks at them every single day,” he said.

2. Every single person is important.

He recalled watching the 1990 NBA playoff game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Chicago Bulls. Michael Jordan, on a tear, scored 69 points to lead the Bulls to the win in overtime.

In that same game, Stacey King played 17 minutes off the bench for the Bulls. He took four shots, all in clutch situations, and missed all four. But he was fouled on the last shot and got to take two foul shots. He missed the first, but made the second.

“All the media rushed over to Jordan after the game,” Tebow said. “But some went over to King. When they asked him, ‘How was tonight?’ he remarked ‘Tonight was the night me and Michael Jordan combined for 70 points.”

3. Create hope in people’s lives. 

He shared the story of Sarah. A young girl who had been fighting cancer for 7 years. She had been told in December that she only had a few days to live. But she knew it was not her time. She knew she would make it to the Tim Tebow Foundation’s Night to Shine Prom in February, where nearly 90,000 special needs children from around the world get to have an unforgettable experience.

“’I know I’m supposed to be at Night to Shine, she’d say. I know that’s my night to be a princess.’” he said.

With the support and prayers of her family, her entire community, and her unwavering faith, Sarah made it to the prom.

“She walked down the red carpet and straight to the chocolate fondue fountain. Then to karaoke. Then to the dance floor. She hasn’t walked since they sent her home from the hospital, but here, she stands up and starts to dance. And she danced all night.”

Sarah got to have her night as a princess. She died two days later.

4. Success doesn’t come from fame or power, but from changing people’s lives.

Tebow reminded guests that "the founder of Publix was asked on his deathbed, ‘What do you think your life would be worth if you hadn’t given all of your money away?’

‘Probably nothing,’” he said.

5. Love people.

Celebrating 100 years this year, the YMCA has long been a place where people go to gather, connect and grow. Whether it’s a place to go after school, to learn leadership skills, or for the family to play, it’s programs help build strong children, families and communities.

And they have big plans for 2018. 

The 18 acres on Congress Avenue will become the largest destination sports park in the country, complete with a skate park which will serve as the official training site for the 2020 Olympics.

“Giving to the YMCA is not just about pools and gyms. It’s about loving people and letting them know that we care enough,” Tebow said.

6. Make your Father proud and finish strong.

He closed by painting the picture of the 2008 National Championship game against the Oklahoma Sooners. 

“Coach (Urban) Meyer had always taught us about finishing strong. We were tied in the fourth quarter and I knew this was our chance,” he said.

A trademark jump pass to David Nelson sealed the win and Meyer approached Tebow in tears.

“He said to me, ‘I love you. I’m proud of you. You finished strong,’” he remembered.

“I wondered later why it meant so much to me and it was because this man was like a father figure. Someone I loved has asked me to do something and I came through. And I realized that should be my ultimate goal. How cool would it be at the end of your life to be welcomed home by your heavenly Father, as he squeezed and embraced you and said ‘I love you. I’m proud of you. You finished strong.”


The event saw donations in the tens of thousands, topped by the live auction of two Gator helmets signed by Tebow. 


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