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6 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ... ABOUT BEING A TEAM CHAPLAIN

Preston Mack

1. FAITH COVERS THE WHOLE FIELD.
"Each team has a chaplain. A degree, but not seminary, is required to land the job. I played in the NFL for 11 years, and when I started this job in 2003, I was one of only three former players serving, but the number has nearly doubled. My focus is biblical, but I make it inclusive. No matter what a player's faith, I'll talk to him. And I'm not afraid to engage with players who are atheist or agnostic. Those can be great talks, too."

2. PART OF THE JOB IS CLERICAL …
"We hold chapel during camp and the night before a game; as many as 35 players attend. We're also available for pastoral care—baptisms, wedding preparations, deaths—and we lead a variety of Bible studies: There's a coaches' study group; my wife leads a wives' study; and in some years, we've had a couples' study. We also have one for the front office that continues in the off-season."

3. … AND PART IS PERSONAL.
"A lot of what I do is one-on-one counseling. Most questions are about juggling life as a Christian and as a player, but we talk about anything. One guy recently asked about how to resolve conflicts in his marriage. I wouldn't say infidelity comes up a lot, but enough. These young men may wind up in situations deemed illegal or inappropriate. I try to help them understand how that would affect them and their loved ones."

4. PERSPECTIVE HELPS.
"I don't discourage players from praying for wins. But I do stress that if God doesn't answer that prayer, it doesn't say anything about His purpose for the guy."

5. WE'RE A BARGAIN.
"None of us are paid by the teams. Some, like me, are on staff with Athletes in Action, a global sports ministry, or the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Others are local chaplains who get paid by their parish. The Jags do pay for my travel and give me an office."

6. I HAVE A GAME FACE TOO.
"I'm on the sideline on Sunday. I offer some encouragement, but mostly I stay out of the way. I know what it's like to be focused on the field."