Walter Payton is not just a great athlete and a Hall of Fame running back; he is arguably one of the greatest men to play the game of football. His greatness is not just found on the field, but in his character and conduct off the field. In fact, when the National Football League recognizes a player for his contributions to his community or to mankind, it compares that player to Walter Payton. The Walter Payton award is one of the greatest honors the NFL bestows each year. This award is so prestigious that the player who receives the Walter Payton Man of the Year award will wear an emblem on his jersey for the rest of his career.
Peyton, who played for the Chicago Bears for 13 years, left a lasting impact on his team and on the NFL. Above the Bears’ locker is this quote by Walter Peyton: “We are stronger together than we are alone.” Peyton nailed it with this quote. He was speaking about more than just football. In team sports, as well as in life, we need each other!
Why we need each other
Shallow relationships are a sin. After the sting of that statement wears off for just a second, let me explain what I mean by this. Sin always affects relationships! The first sin immediately impacted Adam’s relationship with Eve. Sin has continued to impact all human relationships up to the present day.
Here are a couple of brief examples of what I mean by this: When two guys get into a fight in the parking lot, sin is always part of the equation; no matter the reason a mother and daughter are arguing with one another, sin plays a part in their disagreement, and sin is at the core of what makes marriages fall apart or friendships collapse. Looking back over the course of human history, there is no other factor that has damaged human relationships as much as sin. This is what makes Walter Payton’s statement so important. Relationships are impacted by sin, but you weren’t made to go through life alone.
We weren’t built to go it alone
God designed human beings to function in very specific ways. He created us in his image, according to Genesis 1:26. If you pay close attention to the pronouns in this verse, you will notice that God is speaking to himself in the plural form. This is a reference to the three-fold Godhead of Father, Son, and Spirit. Just like God the Father is always in relationship with his Son and his Spirit, so too are people supposed to be in relationship with one another. This was part of the original blueprints when God created mankind.
The Bible is very specific about this point. In Genesis 2:18 God says that it’s not good for man to be alone. We were built by God to be in relationship with other people. As our relationships grow deeper, so does the strength that we have to handle life’s challenges. God created us as individual players in a team sport called life.
The strongest teams have the deepest relationships
I want to close this blog by looking at the challenge of Walter Payton’s statement. We need each other. However, sin causes hurt and many other problems between two people. Payton’s statement is so challenging because we all know deep inside that we need one another. God created us to know this innately. However, we also know from firsthand experience that people are going to hurt us. As a result, many people use isolation as a protective measure against getting hurt. Peyton challenged our self-protection instinct.
When two players from the opposing football teams crash into one another, it’s going to hurt. Football is a full contact sport. However, football is also a team sport. No team in history has ever won a game with only one player on the field. Peyton realized that relationships must go deep off the field if a team is supposed to win on the football field. The strongest teams will always be those with the deepest relationships. Life is a team sport. You need others around you. If you’re not connected in some meaningful way with other people, I want to challenge you to get involved in a small group of people who will challenge and encourage you. If you are a Christian, this is not up for debate. God created you to be in relationship- first with himself and second with his people.