An open letter to Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin: you don’t have to be Tim Tebow

by Timothy Lo on Wednesday, February 8, 2012 at 3:20pm

I’ve been seeing and hearing lots of comments about Lin in the NBA being like Tebow in the NFL. I’m not sure exactly what the correlation is supposed to be, except that it probably has something to do with being a Christian. But I, personally, don’t want Lin to be the Tebow of the NBA…

I think many Asian-Americans, especially males, have tried to fit into America and are still trying to be accepted by the general Caucasian culture (or the African-American culture, as it might be in the NBA). In that sense, I hope that Lin doesn’t feel the pressure to BE like anyone, but just be himself. I actually get choked up when I see his highlights, because Lin is shattering the typical Asian-American stereotypes (he’s not an immigrant like Yao Ming, Dice-K, or many others) that I grew up with. If his success continues, he will redefine perception and be a trailblazer himself. I don’t know what it looks like, or what it will do for Asian-Americans. But he has much more on his shoulders and in his potential than Tim Tebow does, because he is not only Christian, but an Asian-American Christian.

Tim Tebow, God bless him, is doing HIS thing. He’s being faithful to how God has called him to wear his faith on his sleeve, to speak, and pray, and whatever else he wants to do out in the public eye. There are PLENTY of football players who are Christians, and many Patriots players even go to regular Bible studies together. Lin is going to live out his faith the way God has called HIM to, which might be quite differently. And if I had to guess, as an Asian-American I think it probably *will* be differently. So I don’t want him to be like Tebow, and I actually wouldn’t mind if the media pays less attention to him being a Christian than him being an Asian.

Nothing against Tebow, who is being the faithful servant that God has called him to be. But it seems that his polarizing impact in the media has only a certain and particular type of positive influence for advancing God’s Kingdom. From what I can tell (I could be wrong), he really encourages other Christians, but he’s not really challenging non-believers to reconsider Jesus Christ.

If I had to guess, a quieter, not-in-your-face, dedicated, steady, and long lasting witness might be the kind that an Asian-American athlete might have. I think of Kurt Warner or David Robinson, and others, who live out their faith with quiet, unashamed strength. People know they are Christian and for the most part respect them for it, not mock them like they do with Tebow.

I don’t know Lin’s personally, so who knows, maybe he’s the Tebow-type and maybe God has called him to be like that. But if not, I hope to hear and read more about him being the kind of person we all want to be, Asian or not, Christian or not. I think that’s an example of a celebrity athlete that I’d love to see.

What I’m praying for: that Lin finds a good church community that can also see him as just a regular guy, and a mentor who can help him continue to grow in understanding who God is calling him to be.

…and for the C’s to trade for him (no offense, Rondo; he can come off the bench? =P)

[re-posted with permission]

7 thoughts on “An open letter to Jeremy Lin”

  1. Wow. So well put! I’m so glad this perspective is being represented, too. I respect Tebow and think he’s doing the best he can with what he’s been given, but what also bothers me is when so many people were practically worshipping him (What would Tebow Do? etc.), and I was concerned that the same thing would happen to Jeremy Lin. Of course, I am really happy that they are getting a lot of attention and that it’s having people consider faith (and culture, in Lin’s case), but there’s a line that people have to be careful to not cross.

    When I watch Jeremy Lin, I’m also moved to tears because of his courage in navigating being a minority in what must be a hard setting, and also because I’m so glad he’s receiving the respect he deserves for all his hard work. But I also get concerned when I hear comments like, “Now people know we Asian American men can hang with all the others!” And I wonder, like this post suggests, how much are we tempted to try to be like others, rather than being ourselves? I’d be happy if Jeremy was influenced by other cultures and people who aren’t Asian American, because he’ll learn from them. But I hope he maintains his sense of who he is as an Asian American who doesn’t have to talk, act differently, or be ashamed of his cultural heritage… even if in certain settings that isn’t as “cool” or is even looked down upon. I hope that others in the NBA who aren’t AA learn from him, and are influenced by him. And I think his being a Christian can help him in that.

    So I’m glad this was posted, and also would pose another question: what are some of the concerns you have, related to Jeremy Lin and all the recent news surrounding him? Everyone is buzzing, and that’s a great thing, but let’s create some room for those who want to explore the other side of the issue.

  2. Timothy Lo: “From what I can tell (I could be wrong), he really encourages other Christians, but he’s not really challenging non-believers to reconsider Jesus Christ.”

    You’re wrong. God has used Tim Tebow as a means to bring non-believers to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

    May Jeremy Lin continue to give glory to God.

  3. I don’t really think you have much to worry about. A lot of comparisons between JLin and Tebow are about their respective careers and their image, in addition to faith. I’m pretty sure Jeremy probably doesn’t think twice about such comparisons- though he has commented on people suggesting that he’s the Asian Steven Nash!

  4. Lin told 95.7 The Game in San Francisco:

    “Actually a lot of inspiration just because [Tebow’s] such a polarizing figure but I think the things he says in interviews, his approach to the game is just unbelievable and I respect him so much. I want to be able to do some of the things that he does in terms of the amount of charity work and the non-profit work, and the way he impacts people off the field. I think that is what is most inspiring to me about him.”

  5. I agree with the Timothy Lo that Jeremy Lin should find himself first before he tries to model himself after the way others have successfully presented their faith to the media. Finding, embracing, and expressing the identity Christ gave you will be the most effective way to live out the Gospel in all arenas of life.

    I totally am with you and feel you when you say how awesome it is that he’s shattering Asian American stereotypes, and even not minding if his Asian American-ness is played up more than his Christian-ness.

    However, I’m not sure if you’re saying you’d rather have the Asian stereotypes shattered vs. Christ glorified through his talent and career. As much as it stinks to get racist remarks or be stereotyped by many Americans, ultimately, we’re here to see Jesus worshiped.

    As awesome as it feels to see Jeremy doing what he’s doing and having stereotypes (hilariously) broken like in the video below, his passion to please God moves me way more than any societal perception of my face (then again, I’ve grown up in a culture that largely accepts Asians. If I lived through Jim Crowe, I might think a little differently).

    Jeremy Lin Effect

  6. Tim, thanks for voicing your hopes for Jeremy Lin, and so far it sounds like he is level-headed and well-grounded in his faith, and that he’s steadfast in pursuing his calling. And what I think is amazing to see is how his faith is a powerful element in keeping him from the many distractions coming his way, and all the more now that he’s been part of a team that beat Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in primetime showtime!

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