Image courtesy of Kirby Lee

Leader of the Pack

Aaron Rodgers is a leader in football and faith.

Mark Darnall & Bruce Darnall

Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, has left little doubt that he is a great leader. Aaron led the Packers in 2009 back to the playoffs with an 11-5 record.

“My most memorable moment so far as a Packer,” Rodgers says, “was celebrating with my teammates after beating Seattle to get into the 2009 playoffs.”

Yet there is another side of Aaron Rodgers—that of a quiet leader in his personal life. Rodgers grew up in a home where his parents, Ed and Darla, were Christian models for Aaron and his brothers, Luke and Jordan.

“I grew up knowing what a stable relationship was by my parents’ example and how it centered on Christ,” Rodgers says, “When our family had its ups and downs, I knew my parents relied on God for everything and He always got us through those rough spots.”

Two mentors helped steer him in the right direction

As a result of watching his parents live their faith, Rodgers asked Jesus to be his Savior when he was very young. His faith grew through reading and studying the Bible and attending church.

There was a short time when Rodgers started to drift away; but he had two mentors to help steer him back in the right direction. Pastor Andrew Burchett was the youth pastor when Rodgers was a teen and Matt Hock was leader of their church youth group called Young Life. Their influence prompted Rodgers, at 16, to dedicate his life to living for Christ.

“Matt Hock was the first person who showed me how much fun and how cool it can be to be a Christian,” Rodgers says. Through Young Life, Rogers got involved in service mission projects and camp experiences, and built relationships that encouraged his and others’ Christian faith to grow.

He went on to be involved with Athletes in Action during his two years at the University of California, Berkeley, where he led the Golden Bears to two bowl games and “the great victory over Stanford my junior year,” Rodgers adds.

When it comes to talking to others about his faith, Rodgers is not one who preaches or pushes his faith on others. “I like the saying from St. Francis of Assisi, ‘Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.’ I try to live my life in a way that reflects my faith in the Lord,” Rodgers says. “I don’t like to get in peoples’ faces. The best way for me is: Let your actions talk about your beliefs, start a relationship with others, then finally there is a chance for questions.”

His father was his role model

Rodgers looks to his father as a model—one who exemplifies humility, integrity and honoring his elders. “I use that model as I relate to my friends and family, my teammates and coaches,” Rodgers says. “I want them to see that I really love and care for them as individuals. I try to build relationships. I feel if you are not personally invested in the people you spend every day with, then you are missing out on building a relationship and wonderful life experiences. That is what I like about Jesus: Jesus is about relationships.”

Pastor Burchett describes Rodgers this way, “Aaron tends to be a quiet guy, but is also a fiery, competitive person. He will not force what he believes on others, but he is consistent and willing to share his faith in the context of relationship.” Pastor Burchett continues, “Aaron would be one who leads by example of what it looks like to be a Jesus-follower.”

“Aaron will not stand on the bleachers and shout”

One service project that Rodgers loves is a Christmas project. “My platform as a professional athlete and as ‘the face of the franchise’ gives me a tangible way to share my heart and faith through an awesome Christmas project that helps kids from single parents and kids who stay at the Salvation Army. It is a project my teammates and I truly enjoy.”

Troy Murphy, pastor at Green Bay Community Church and the Packer chaplain, says, “The Christmas project is quite exciting; however, it is low key—away from the cameras and media. Aaron will not stand on the bleachers and shout; but he will privately live that life consistently with Jesus. I love that about him.”

Like any Christian, there are struggles Rodgers faces. “It is my daily walking in faith and dealing with life issues and not giving into temptation that can be very challenging,” he adds. “I am always struggling in finding time to daily grow in my faith. If you are not in the Word or focusing on Christ, or into prayer, you can’t help but slip at times.”

“To me, when I feel His presence, my life is full”

Whenever Rodgers needs someone to give him support to keep him on track or face an issue, it only takes a phone call. Pastor Burchett says, “I am a person in the background to encourage Aaron and to help him when he needs to bounce things off someone.”

A verse that is special to him is John 10:10: “I have come in order that you might have life—life in all its fullness.” Rodgers summarizes, “The Lord is my Rock. He has always been there, always present at good times and bad; and to me when I feel His presence, my life is full.”

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