NFL star Tim Tebow talks faith, perspective at Lawrenceville church

Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Margaret Henderson has caught Tebowmania.

Wearing her No. 15 Jets jersey, Henderson, 84, danced with the crowd Friday, just as excited as the youngsters to see football star Tim Tebow visit a Gwinnett church.

At a sell-out event at 12Stone Church, Tebow appeared alongside evangelist and author John C. Maxwell, to talk about leadership and faith in his life.

Henderson had already heard most of his stories. After all she has read his book numerous times. But she couldn't resist the chance to see him so close to her Suwanee home.

"I love his stand for the Lord," Henderson said. "I admire his faith and his courage. I feel God has his hand on him."

For many of the thousands who were a part of Friday's crowd, it wasn't Tebow's national championship rings or Heisman trophy that drew them to hear from the star. Instead, it was his appeal as a role model, known for his missionary work and public proclamations of Christianity -- and, of course, dropping to his knee on the field in prayer or praise to God, a phenomenon known as Tebowing.

"We aren't Florida fans, but we are Tebow fans," said Chuck Ramsey, a Johns Creek man who brought his wife and seven kids to hear Tebow's message.

"In today's world, to see a role model like Tim, you can't help but appreciate that," said Ramsey, a football coach for his sons. "We weren't going to miss this."

Tebow seemed at home in the crowd, even telling about the decision on where to go to college between Alabama and Florida, SEC rivals of in-state favorite Georgia.

When meeting people before the event, he joked, "I heard War Eagle. I heard Roll Tide. I heard Go Tigers. I heard lots of Go Gators, but there was only one or two Go Dawgs."

While Tebow didn't talk directly about his recent trade to the Jets, after leading the Denver Broncos to the playoffs last year, he did talk about having confidence on the field and learning to have passion in his career but also perspective that it isn't the most important thing in his life.

"I try to keep in perspective what the game of football is," he said, shifting focus to a foundation he started to help orphans and others.

"I'm so grateful I don't have to live the roller coaster that the media makes of my life," he said. "I try to keep it in perspective, I think, to do something worthwhile with that opportunity."

In talking about his college decision, Tebow talked about praying and wishing God would show him the answer. But even after the decision was made -- while the press conference was going on -- Tebow said he was upset that he didn't feel peace.

Later, he realized, "just because God doesn't show you doesn't mean he isn't leading you," Tebow recounted. "I've learned that's what living by faith is all about. We don't know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future, and that gives us peace."

The words were music to the ears of Mary Coleman, a Dacula woman whose 12-year-old son considers Tebow a hero.

"I liked the stories about how his (family) supported him," Coleman said of learning a little on how to support her own son's aspirations in Tebow's speech. "I liked hearing that."