Six Lessons on Fatherhood from Tim Brown

The former NFL wide receiver shares his tips on manhood and fatherhood from his book Making of a Man: How Men and Boys Honor God and Live with Integrity.

Former NFL wide receiver Tim Brown is no extra-terrestial plucked out of space primarily for the purpose of playing football. No, Brown is a husband and father who decided at the age of 20 to live by the principles of the Bible, God’s principles. The 47-year-old retired football player recently released “The Making of a Man: How Men and Boys Honor God and Live with Integrity,” a book on fatherhood and manhood written alongside award-winning collaborator James Lund. Asked who he hopes will read this book Brown said, “I think that the beauty of what we tried to do and what we accomplished is that it doesn’t matter if you are a young man from the hood or a business person from Wall Street, this book can speak to all of you.” And this book surely speaks. Brown took the time to chat with UrbanFaith about six lessons on fatherhood taken directly from the book.

#1: A Man Uses His Talents

I believe that everyone has a platform and depending on what your talent is, your platform is greater. If you’ve got great talent than your platform is going to be better. No matter what talents you have, whether you are attracting one or one million, if you’re not using those talents for the glory of God, you are wasting those talents. I really would like to see folks with much bigger platforms than I have to catch hold of that.

#2: A Man Overcomes Temptation

In the book we talk a lot about some of the things I went through. One particular situation happened right after I met my wife. I had flown down from Oakland to Los Angeles for her Christmas party. On the flight there was a young lady working for Southwest, a beautiful young lady. I was trying not to make eye contact with her and so I put a USA Today over my head, but soon I felt the paper coming off my head. She pulled the paper down and asked me, “What are you doing when you get off this plane because I can be at your house in 45 minutes?” I told her, “There is no doubt in my mind what would happen if we left this plane but I met someone six months ago.” She said, “So you have a girlfriend?” I said, “Yes, but I am not talking about her, I’m talking about Jesus Christ.”

There is power in mentioning Jesus Christ—or mentioning your girlfriend. The enemy is not always going to be the boogeyman; it’s (sometimes) going to be 5 foot 6, as pretty as she wants to be. If you mention to somebody that you are saved or married and they are still pushing at you, you have to realize that you are dealing with the enemy. We need the Holy Spirit to let us know when to get in and out of situations. You have to listen to Holy Spirt and if you don’t listen, you will fall.

#3: A Man Takes Responsibility

I had a son at 22 years old with my girlfriend from college. When she got pregnant it was the end of my senior year at Notre Dame. I had a decision to make about whether I was going to be in this kid’s life. His mom and I had a good relationship, but I didn’t see a future there. I decided to move them from Newark, NJ to Dallas, TX to be with me. At that time I felt like that was the responsible thing to do. Not only did I need to financially take care of him, but also I needed to be a father to him. He was about 6 months old.

Every off season, the day I got home, he would be at my mom’s house and I would have him until it was time to go back to camp. Taylor will tell you that’s a big deal, not because his dad is Tim Brown but because he had a dad in his life. People think I was able to make that decision because I was set financially but I felt it was important to physically be there. As men, we have to make the tough decisions. Not decisions for me, but decisions for the whole. As real men, we have to think about the whole of the situation and try our best to make it better.

#4: A Man Forgives Others

My dad came home a little intoxicated one night. I was in the family room, he thought I was sleep because it was late and turned the tv off. Once he did that, I said “Hey Pop, I was still watching that.” I scared him! That caused him to think, in his inebriated mind, I was coming after him. He asked me if I was coming after him, and before I could answer, he said he was going to kill me and headed to his car where I knew he kept guns. So in my 13-year-old mind, I decided that night, “If alcohol would make you want to kill your son, I would not touch alcohol!”

Over the next 12 years, I was constantly trying to gain the attention/affection of my father. Doing well in school didn’t do it. Being VP of the senior class, getting a scholarship to ND, winning the Heisman, graduating college, 1st round pick in the NFL, Pro Bowl 1st year and another Pro Bowl a few years later, none of these things did the trick. That’s when I realized, my father was doing the best he could do, not the best he should be doing! That revelation led me to go to him and ask for forgiveness for what had happen 12 years prior!

#5: A Man Has His Priorities in Order

Where is God in your life at this particular point? We can look at all the things we want to but if you aren’t making God a priority, then chances are God will not be a priority. This is the chapter that gets people to start to think about, “If it’s not God as number one, then you will be in trouble.” This is also the preface to the last chapter, “A Man Builds A Godly Legacy.”

#6: A Man Builds a Godly Legacy

What do you want people to say when you are gone? I once had a conversation with a Dallas Cowboy receiver and I asked him, “What do you want your legacy to be?” He shook his head and said, “Can we stop for a second?” Then he said, “What do you mean?” “What do you want people to say about you when you are gone? What do you want the receivers who are coming after you to say about you when you are gone?” I said. He told me that he had not thought about it. Unfortunately that’s the way a lot of us are. Instead of us trying to build a legacy, we think about day-to-day problems with no plan in mind. When you talk about Godly legacies, it is the end all. It is what I am trying to accomplish more than the fame, more than anything else. It is what I want my kids to see because the money is going to fade and the fame is going to fade.

Check out “Making of a Man” for more of Tim’s lessons on manhood and fatherhood.makingofaman-resize

About the author, Nicole Symmonds

Nicole Symmonds is a newly-minted Master of Divinity joining the droves of people with MDiv behind their name who aren’t planning to minister—at least not from behind a pulpit. She views writing as a type of ministry and is happy to have the opportunity to return to her first vocational love while she continues to discern God's call upon her life. Nicole currently resides in Atlanta where she works as a freelance writer and journalist focusing on issues in religion and spirituality in the black experience, sexuality and spirituality, and pop culture and entertainment.
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