Grace ambassador, Christian Taylor, looks into the life of the New York Jets defensive tackle, Tanzel Smart, as he shares how he maintains his focus as a man of God, working towards eternal peace, while living in the limelight of the NFL.
Smart, born in Louisiana, was raised by his grandma who showed him the way of the church and the beauty in prayer. Smart then found himself always in the church and in prayer groups all during his childhood while also finding his love and gift of sport. “Growing up…I played football and basketball. I found that the Lord blessed me with the gift of football in high school and knew I had to move forward with it.” Smart is now in his fifth year in the NFL, living and working through the Graces of God. “With football now, Sundays are for football, but it is important to remember the main thing—that Sundays are [really] for our Lord and Savior.” Smart uses his Sunday platform to share his own word of God with the world whether it be through interviews, social media posts, or in simple conversations with his teammates. He shares all glory in God in any way he can and is confident that no one can take that away from him, not even the critics or non-believers he encounters daily.
While some sports may not share in the ease of speaking out about your faith, Smart always finds a way to practice his faith and let God shine through him. “We have our chapels; we have our pastors; we have our Tuesday Bible study allowing me to always be vocal and not shy away from God.” Not shying away, means recognizing the gift of Grace God bestows on all his children. When asked what the gift of Grace meant to Tanzel Smart, he said, “[Grace] is just waking up every morning and being grateful for what I have, [and knowing] everything is not going to happen when I want it to happen, but it will happen through Grace.” Knowing that Grace is always with him, Smart shares that his Grace and faith are what kept him “one with God” through a “wild 2020.” Facing hardship after hardship in his athletic career, while enduring the world-changing pandemic, Smart kept to his faith, kept to his prayer, and kept himself in the word of God—saving him in times of disappointment, especially during the pandemic.
No matter the year, no matter the status of the world, living in the limelight is never an easy thing. It is easy to fall victim to the pride, the fame, the fortune, but Tanzel Smart knows what keeps him grounded and what keeps him humble. “My family and my friends…having those people to talk to about whatever I’m feeling keeps me grounded, my wife especially. I know I can talk to my wife about anything and she will always be there for me, praying for me.” With this grounding force, Smart is able to tackle the balance between pride and humility by claiming that “humble is just me.” God gives us our ways in life, our fortunes that we have, and he can take it away in an instant. “I won’t be the man of God that I am and aim to be if I boast and brag… to be a man of God, I’m going to have to be humble.” God has blessed us with all we have so that we can be humble and live in his word.
Before Smart ended his time speaking with grace ambassador Taylor, he left listeners, new and prospective believers, with some words of encouragement in which he shared, “God is amazing. That’s how we got here; that’s why the sun shines, the clouds move, the rain comes—through God.” Smart also shared an inspiring message he heard which claimed that you do not have to close your eyes to talk to God or be in a prayer circle to pray, you can be standing in one spot having a conversation with our Lord and see everything be changed in an instant. Not hiding in fame, fortune, or glory, Smart shared his humility and Grace of God in this blessed talk with Heaven to the Yeah grace ambassador, Christian Taylor.
Heaven to the Yeah (HTTY) is an online retail start-up with a mission to encourage people to live with heaven in view and spread the hope of heaven globally. HTTY sponsors children and missionaries on four continents through universally recognized non-profit organizations such as Compassion International and Food for the Hungry.