Skip to content

Success vs. Adventism

Recent news has again raised the question for ambitious Adventists. Do I have to bury my talents to keep my faith? The New York Daily News reports on a promising young Seventh-day Adventist, Jermaine Lawrence, who is a top sophomore basketball prospect in the nation. The 6′-8” forward attends Cardozo, a high school in New York City, “with a rich basketball heritage that helped mold NBA players Rafer Alston and Royal Ivey, among others.” He has already received an offer from University of Louisville.

But his commitments to his team and the Adventist practice of Sabbath-keeping are coming into conflict, both privately and publicly. His coach wants him to play, and has had to keep him back to which Jermaine says that “it’s tough” dealing with this decision.

Marcia Lawrence, Jermaine’s mother, said she wants her son to excel academically first, but she acknowledges his basketball talent.

She said that she feels torn between letting Jermaine play on the Sabbath without compromising his faith.

“It’s weird, very uncomfortable,” said Marcia, a medical assistant. “There’s times I have to leave church to get him to a game. It’s very uncomfortable and uneasy. But there’s no going around it. I’m either going to break it or I’m not going to break it. I’ll find ways of working it out, though. It will work out.”

Jermaine said jokingly that his father, Christopher Lawrence, a cross-country truck driver, is more lenient than his mom about basketball on Saturdays. But the youngster is still confident that his mother will change her position.

“Right now, it’s an argument every week,” he said. “But down the road, I think she’ll understand.”

Prep Rally, a Yahoo Sports blog, posted on this story and the comments from Seventh-day Adventists are interesting. One person writes:

Hey Jermaine, I am a proud Seventh-day Adventist and I pray that you are too. I am sure you are well aware of the times in which we live and how the decisions we make can affect oru salvation. Luke 12:8 “says Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:” Basketball is not the beginning or the end of the world. I am very certain that you have many other gifts that God can use for His glory. In addition, I am certain that if you pass up this opportunity it will be a great witness to many young persons who compromise their Christianity for fame.

Another writes:

You’re not the first athlete to face playing on a Sabbath. I remember a few that didn’t stand up and even some that made it to the NBA, sad to say that their careers didn’t last. Pray about it and don’t worry about the fanatics within the SDA church because they will quote everything and not follow it themselves. God gave you a gift and he gave you talent and as long as you stay in God your gifts and talents will make way for you because God will open doors. Trust God enough to do that.

And a minister joins the fray:

as a Seventh-day Adventist child and now a SDA minister. I tried to do what was easy and make money. I tried to live a double-life and made decisions that were outside of God’s will. There is a simple thought that I would like to remind you of…everyone, which includes you and all that have posted here, have to give an account to God for the things done in this life. Every religion and denomination recognize this reality. “What will it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul”. So many have already sold their souls for riches, pleasure, entertainment, etc., in this life. Let your decision be the one that says, you love God more than anything, and He promises that you will receive your crown of life. Be strong bro.

This tension between what some call worldly success and faithfulness to God goes beyond sports. The recent victory of the Huntsville, Alabama, gospel a cappella group Committed in NBC’s reality show “The Sing-Off” has raised this question as well. In fact, their name itself connotes their “commitment” to, among many things, their beliefs.

In fact Beliefnet recently noted their faith, and included a quote from one of their members.

“Our intentions are to use the opportunity as a ministry…We’re proud of our faith!” Geston Pierre, bass singer for Committed, told Andrews University where he has been a student.”

Apparently their first album will be “inspirational.”

Interestingly, just appearing on the NBC show caused them to literally change their tune. According to Billboard, it marked the first time they, sang secular pop songs rather than the gospel and devotional material the sextet typically performs. The group’s run on the show included Maroon5’s “This Love,” the Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” an Usher medley and a rendition of the new Michael Jackson/Akon single “Hold My Hand,” which Committed’s Thomas said was his personal favorite.

It seems relatively doable for a Seventh-day Adventist to have a successful mainstream career in the gospel music industry. But what about a basketball player? And how do natural skills and talents (being 6-8 is one big talent) effect a member’s ability to be both successful and an Adventist?

Subscribe to our newsletter
Spectrum Newsletter: The latest Adventist news at your fingertips.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.