Month: February 2011

Challenges to applying biblical parameters for the genders play out in local church

While the Baptist Faith and Message expressed the convention’s opposition to females serving as pastor, it did little to delineate parameters for other leadership roles within the general ministries of the church.

Susie Hawkins, women’s author and speaker, was one of two women to serve on the committee to revise the confessional statement. Even while SBC messengers overwhelmingly approved the 2000 revision to the BF&M and all six SBC seminaries function in agreement with its position to limit the role of pastor to men, Hawkins noted there is an ongoing discussion about women in ministry, particularly concerning those who teach or serve on church staffs.

“Even within theologically conservative circles, there are differences of interpretation of the ‘women passages,'” said Hawkins, referring to Scripture’s more controversial passages regarding women’s roles in the church and home, such as 1 Timothy 2.

For example, Southern Baptist churches are seeing a trend in women teaching mixed Sunday School classes, particularly with the growth of home-based Bible study or small groups, according to Randy Stinson, president of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. He sees Sunday School and Bible studies are the biggest battleground for applying complementarianism in the local church.

“Many of our churches are allowing women to teach Sunday School classes where there are both men and women present,” Stinson told the TEXAN. “The rationale is typically that the BF&M only prohibits women from being the senior pastor. But the BF&M is not exhaustive,” he said.

Rather, Stinson said passages such as 1 Timothy 2:12 do not merely prohibit an office, but also a function.

“Regardless of office, a woman should not be asked to do the things that 1 Timothy 2:12 prohibits, even if she is a Sunday School teacher and not a pastor,” stated Stinson, dean of the church ministries school at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

At Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, pastor Michael Dean looks to Acts 13:1, 1 Corinthians 12:28-29 and Ephesians 4:11 to conclude “that there are teachers who are called and gifted by God, and who are recognized by the church as having authority in doctrine and biblical interpretation.” However, he sees the Ephesians reference as indicating that the office of the teacher is either closely associated with or entirely synonymous with the office of the pastor. “If that is the case then the position must be held by a male.”

Dean said the New Testament permits and encourages women to teach in other settings, citing Titus 2:3-4 as an example of women teaching women and 2 Timothy 1:5 and 3:15 as examples of them teaching children. “Acts 18:28 states that Priscilla, in tandem with her husband Aquilla, taught Apollos ‘the way of God more adequately,'” he noted.

While he does not find in Scripture the circumstance of a woman teaching a mixed class, Dean said, “In those instances the woman must only teach under the authority of her husband and of the pastoral leadership of the church.”

He reiterated the need for men to serve in the capacities of spiritual leadership in the local church as well as in the homes. At Travis, he said women are encouraged and enlisted to teach in a variety of different settings, but in the case of a mixed gender class, “a woman may teach if she does so in tandem with and under the authority of her husband.”

Acknowledging that women’s roles in the church has historically been “a thorny issue,” Ron Holton, pastor of RockPointe Church in Flower Mound, said, “We allow women to teach as long as they are under the authority of a pastor or elder. We allow them to teach with a man. We allow them to speak on Mother’s Day in the service, to share testimonies as God leads us, to read Scripture, to sing, to teach our children and teenagers, and to be used by God under the authority of leadership.”

However, “women are not permitted to exercise authority over or disciple men,” he added.

Stressing context, Holton said, “Timothy seems to be dealing with specific issues at hand. If Paul’s command is uniformly applied throughout all time and in every situation without regard to context, should we not also apply the same standard to verses 9-10 of 1 Timothy as well as verses 11-12?” Citing 1 Corinthians 11:5, he noted, “Paul seems to indicate in some situations that women pray and prophesy openly in the context of worship.”

“The timeless application in verses 8-9 seems to be the adornment of Christlike modesty combined with good works,” Holton added. “In verses 11-12, using the same principles, the central message seems to be that women are not to exercise final authority in the congregation.”

Holton said ministerial leaders at the church attempt to interpret Scripture as faithfully as possible within that historical context, drawing out the theological meaning before applying it to their church. He believes there is room for differences of interpretation and practice when evaluating the “different representations of women’s roles and contextualized instructions regarding women in specific circumstances.”

Stinson believes many Baptist churches hold to the traditional views of gender roles out of a “sense of decorum” rather than “clear biblical conviction.”

“This means that their level of resolve over this issue may not be as strong and we very well could be more egalitarian in 10 years than we are now.”

Stinson added: “Churches are largely failing to train men to be the leaders of their homes. When this happens, wives and mothers end up having many burdens that should not be theirs. This distorts the Christ/Church picture of the marriage and consequently hinders the furthering of the gospel.”

Terri Stovall, dean of women’s programs and associate professor of women’s ministries at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, added, “The statement that ‘there are no men to step up’ is never a valid excuse to violate the teaching of Scripture. “Rather, maybe we need to emulate the examples we have in Scripture. We need our Deborahs to encourage, challenge and affirm the Baraks. We need our Priscillas to teach and redirect our Apollos. We even need our Eunice and Lois to nurture the next generation of leaders.

“In some cultures, this can prove challenging, but we must trust that what God teaches through his Word can still be applied today in whatever culture we serve.”

Some believe local churches would be better served had the BF&M study committee utilized the exact wording of Scripture instead of interpreting the positions of Scripture.

One such proponent of this view is Southwestern Seminary student Katie McCoy, who charged in a white paper delivered in a symposium on the seminary campus last year that Southern Baptists have inconsistently applied complementarian rhetoric in the local church.

“I hope that my generation will be vigilant and discerning as we test cultural trends and church practices against God’s perfect Word,” McCoy said. “I also hope that our convention will eventually change the Baptist Faith and Message’s wording on women in the church to say what the Bible does in 1 Timothy 2:12, rather than only stating that women should not be pastors. If our standard reflected what the Bible said, we would not have as much room for misinterpretation in applying it.”

Regarding this criticism, Hawkins said the study committee sought to use “contemporary conversational language” in its articles on the church and family.

“Numerous scriptural references are given to support each article,” Hawkins added. “The committee sought to clarify what Southern Baptists believe and practice in our contemporary culture. Our chairman, the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, wisely led us in staying focused on our charge, whic

Theological educators, books offer help for genders ministering together in local church

Two resources produced by theological educators present a framework for successfully navigating the potential minefield of biblically ordered gender roles in the local church.

Southern Baptist seminary professors Jaye Martin and Terri Stovall teamed up to write “Women Leading Women: The Biblical Model for the Church,” a book purposed to “paint a picture of what women’s ministry should look like based on Scripture.” And from the halls of Dallas Theological Seminary comes “Mixed Ministry: Working Together as Brothers and Sisters in an Oversexed Society,” a book compiled by DTS faculty and alum Sue Edwards and Kelley Mathews urging men and women to view each other as siblings in Christ.

Women Leading Women
Written from a clear complementarian stance, “Women Leading Women” encourages women to serve other women in the local church primarily though women’s ministries. The book offers a framework for approaching women’s ministries grounded in a woman’s identity as an equal image-bearer of God found in Genesis 1 and woman’s helping role found in Genesis 2. The authors trace this helping function through Old and New Testament examples of feminine service to God and family. Their model for women’s ministry concludes with the parameters exemplified in the life and ministry of Christ and explicit Pauline instructions for local church ministry.

And while co-authors Martin and Stovall spend much time outlining the biblical foundations and principles for “women-to-women” ministry, they also offer practical tips for both the woman’s minister serving on a church staff and her pastor.

Martin, director of women’s programs at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., authored a chapter on serving with men. Having previously served with the North American Mission Board and as a staff member at Houston’s First Baptist Church, Martin said many of the tips she includes in this chapter have proven helpful in her own ministry.

In an interview with the Southern Baptist TEXAN, Martin echoed some of the book’s more practical admonitions to women ministering alongside men.

  • Discuss things with other women before you discuss them with men. This helps to get your points to a minimum.
  • Speak in bullet points?not in paragraphs.
  • Don’t take things personally.
  • If they are paying you, then they are supporting you?don’t expect to be affirmed. Realize that decisions are made at the game or during outings. They are not leaving you out intentionally.
  • In working with men, leadership is lonely. Find a network of other women to socialize with and to learn from.
  • Get to know the families of the men your work with. They need to trust you.

Martin also noted it was important for women to work within the system rather than going around it. “This is a huge problem with women. We tend to do whatever it takes (go around people) to make things happen,” she said. “Most men work within the team structure.” Martin also reminded women to “work as unto the Lord. It is the Lord you are serving.”

Mixed Ministry
Equally based on Scripture, the book “Mixed Ministry: Working Together as Brothers and Sisters in an Oversexed Society” urges men and women to view one another as brothers and sisters in Christ as a means to successful co-ministry. Written by Sue Edwards, DTS assistant professor of Christian education, and Kelley Mathews, DTS alum and women’s ministry leader, the book also includes various contributors such as Christian author Henry J. Rogers and long-time DTS professor and author Howard Hendricks.

Deliberately choosing not to enter into the debate over women’s roles in the church and home, the authors instead center their framework for mixed-gender ministry on Christological and Pauline examples of ministry found in the Gospels and the epistles.

The authors believe that the example of “brotherly love” toward ministry partners found in the New Testament safeguards against sexual temptation and the segregation of any sex from appropriate ministry roles.

“Fear of mixed-gender friendship is understandable in an over-sexed society like ours,” the authors contend. “Women are not veiled; instead they are publicly undressed?also dehumanizing. It’s no wonder Christian men and women put on blinders in an attempt to honor God with pure hearts and minds. But Jesus did not respond to women in fear. He knew that this wall of fear would exclude women from the public square of faith, and it has.”

As a stop-gap to segregating women from ministry positions, the authors plead with believers to follow the example of Christ and Paul and create a “family ethos” by viewing women as sisters in Christ.

“The Bible uses familial imagery to describe ministry relationships,” the authors write, noting Paul’s frequent descriptions of the church as adelphoi (brothers) and his designation of women co-laborers as sisters. “When Paul describes the ethos he created in the Thessalonian church, he paints a picture of a caring family.”

And while the authors concede that the family ethos model of navigating the pitfalls of gendered ministry is more difficult to maintain, several benefits can be gleaned including: physical and emotional protection, help, insight, conflict management, and unity.

This family ethos, the authors contend, begins with the leader and trickles down to co-laborers. To this end, the authors urge leaders to focus on the “one another” passages in Scripture as a means to fostering healthy sibling relationships among ministry partners:

  • Be devoted to one another in brotherly love (Romans 12:10)
  • Encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  • Greet one another (Romans 16:16)
  • Serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13)
  • Accept one another in order to bring praise to God (Romans 15:7)
  • Bear with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2).

Edwards and Mathews also provide chapters written for each gender in ministry, combining Scripture’s more generic prescriptions for Christian conduct and gender-specific ways to apply these admonitions. Women in ministry are called to pray for their brothers and their families, develop relationships with the families of their brothers in ministry, refrain from bashing their brothers, and encourage them with appropriate words. Likewise, men in ministry are called to drop demeaning language, value their sisters’ contributions by inviting them into the conversation, and even speak up for their sisters.

“Ethos is invisible?but it can make or break a ministry,” Edwards and Mathews write. “When we do [create a family ethos], we will also create a place where men and women love one another and serve together as brothers and sisters?a radical transformation that just might turn the world upside down for Jesus.”

Dorothy Patterson: Theologian, practitioner, wife, mother

FORT WORTH?Dorothy Patterson couldn’t appear more at home than when she stands before women teaching truths of Scripture. Whether in a classroom at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary preparing women for ministry, traveling to overseas mission fields to encourage former students or speaking to a ladies session of the upcoming Empower Evangelism Conference, she remains focused on helping women discover their God-given roles.

Her own theological training began in a room full of men, the only female in the school of theology at the time when she and her husband Paige were pursuing master of theology degrees at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. At the time of her graduation, the women’s liberation movement was in full swing across America, encouraging women to find fulfillment beyond traditional homemaking.

While her seminary training and additional doctoral studies would serve her well in defending what was later tagged a complementarian view of gender roles, it was in the more practical laboratory of parenting preschoolers that Patterson began to apply her studies.

“My theological training seemed a waste for the task of motherhood before me,” she recounted in the book “Where’s Mom?” “In the midst of this frustrating time, I turned to the Lord.” She began reading through the Bible systematically, determined to find God’s message for her as a woman, wife and mother. That experience became the catalyst for her life and ministry. “My life, goals, and perspective were forever changed.”

When her husband served as president of Criswell Bible Institute (now Criswell College), Dorothy Patterson found new opportunities to encourage women to rediscover “the genuine freedom they enjoyed for centuries to oversee the home, rear the children, and pursue personal creativity.”

Kristi Sberna, a pastor’s wife from Houston, shared that her life was transformed while observing Patterson in relation to her family and ministry. Sberna served as Patterson’s intern while a student at Criswell College, observing, “the focus of her work and passion always seemed to be dedicated to complementing and enhancing the ministry and life of Paige Patterson, her husband, using her energy, time and talents cooperatively with him.”

“It was as if she was a direct extension of him, sharing the same vision and passion in ministry, yet never nullifying her own individuality and personality,” Sberna recalled. “Their marriage and ministry together was appointed with love, respect, excellence, cooperation, friendship and trust.” As a young woman engaged to a ministerial student at the time, Sberna said the Pattersons modeled the kind of marriage and ministry she desired.

It was during those years at Criswell that Dorothy Patterson began fashioning a curriculum of academically challenging studies with a focus on woman-to-woman ministries in keeping with the pattern of Titus 2.

Patterson was swimming against the tide of feminism that had begun to influence some Southern Baptist seminaries where women who professed a call to the pastorate were not only accommodated, but encouraged. In June of 1988 she presented a paper at the request of the Southern Baptist Convention Historical Commission when asked to respond to proponents of women’s ordination. She placed her focus on the lack of scriptural support for women holding teaching/ruling offices within the local church, making the case for ordination of women holding such offices a moot point.

“When a woman ‘feels called’ to do a work that on scriptural grounds is both beyond God’s design in creation and in violation of his written Word, that work must be judged by the church,” she argued.

The egalitarianism of the 1970s and ’80s, which rejected any distinction in gender roles, was rejected by the Conservative Resurgence in the decade that followed. In 1998 Southern Baptists embraced a new article of faith in stating that both men and women have equal worth before God, are created in God’s image with distinct, yet complementary roles.

Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Richard Land served with Patterson and five other members on the committee tasked with drafting that statement. Referring to her contribution as “one of the guiding lights,” he said it was a time “to speak to that issue and speak definitively.”

Patterson later shared in an interview with the journal of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: “We were told to set forth in a clear, brief and understandable way what the Bible says about the family and relationships therein. We weren’t trying to adapt our statement to today’s culture. We were simply trying to state clearly what the Bible says about the family.”

That same year she earned her doctorate in theology from the University of South Africa, writing her dissertation on “Aspects of a Biblical Theology of Womanhood.”

“Just because the world determines that women in the home are in confinement does not make it so. A far more important concern for each of us is what the Bible says about one’s respective position and duties,” she wrote in a journal article for Southeastern that outlined the proposed women’s studies track she had developed.

From Titus 2:3-5, Patterson related Paul’s admonition for “the older or spiritually mature women to teach the younger women, those fresh or new in the faith, a specific curriculum that is centered around the home and family, including such assignments as that they are to be ‘lovers of their husbands,’ ‘lovers of their children,’ and ‘homemakers.’ Such explicit language certainly leaves no room for misunderstanding what is important in a woman’s life from God’s view.”

The preparation of women for ministry was embraced early in the history of Southwestern Seminary. The school’s second president related during his inaugural address, “Our purpose is to do for women in their work what we are doing for men in theirs?give them trained workers, thus reaching the fields opening to Christian womanhood for service. Our aim is not to turn out women preachers, but to give the world trained women in all the teaching, missionary, and soul-winning activities of Christ’s coming kingdom.”

Nearly a century after L.R. Scarborough voiced that priority, Southwestern has its most committed advocate for giving women biblically grounded training with the presence of Dorothy Patterson in the school of theology.

As the eighth president, Paige Patterson drew upon his wife’s experience to develop M.Div., D.Min., and Ph.D. degrees in theology with a concentration in women’s studies. Similar to the other Southern Baptist seminaries, the school also continues to offer certificate programs for women and wives of ministers.

Lauren Johnson, a pastor’s wife in Ozona, remembers Patterson using her skills of persuasion to convince her to be fully prepared for ministry by completing the M.Div. in women’s studies. “Her love for the Word of God further encouraged my love for the Bible and showed me that more than anything, women need the truth of the Word of God taught and exemplified.

“Mrs. Patterson helped me to see that being a wife and mother is a noble calling and not one of which to be ashamed or devalued,” added Johnson, noting her gratefulness for Patterson’s example, leadership and sound guidance. “She showed me what it is to live and breathe hospitality.”

In addition to serving as editor of the “Woman’s Study Bible” published by Thomas Nelson, and co-editor of “Women’s Evangelical Commentary,” Patterson addresses the scriptural roles and responsibilities of Christian women in numerous publications, including: “Where’s Mom? The High Calling of Wife and Mother in Biblical Perspective,” “A Woman Seeking God,” “A Handbook for Minister’s Wives,” “A Handbook for Parents in the Ministry,” “The Family: Unchanging Principles for Changing Times,

‘Between God & Me’ guides girls through Proverbs

Every day young women are faced with making choices. Some choices may be simple and seem inconsequential, but now more than ever, young women face choices that will significantly affect their futures. How will they know the right choice? What will determine their priorities as adults? What will influence their view of womanhood?

Young women need to know where to look for wisdom and direction in making daily, God-honoring choices. In order to develop these patterns early in life and be equipped to face adulthood, they must be directed to the source of wisdom: God’s Word. Vicki Courtney’s “Between God & Me: A Journey through Proverbs” provides an opportunity for young women to seek the wise counsel found in Scripture through a study of Proverbs.

Courtney’s study is geared for pre-teen and teenage girls and includes 31 lessons, one for each chapter of the book of Proverbs. It is adaptable for personal study, group Bible study or for a young woman to study with a mom or dad. Each lesson focuses on key scriptures and a theme found in each chapter of Proverbs. The lessons also include an article relating each theme to real-life situations with questions and activities designed to help girls apply these verses to their own lives.

As a study for a parent and child, “Between God & Me: A Journey through Proverbs” is a great starting point to engage in spiritual conversations and develop a pattern in a child’s life of looking to Scripture in decision-making. The study addresses issues like responding to instruction, honesty and being a hard worker, and it incorporates fun, interactive quizzes for parents and their children to answer to determine how they “rate” on these issues.

As honest thoughts are shared, this study allows for parents to discuss relevant topics that pre-teens and teens face and provides opportunities for open and honest communication.

Children and youth workers could also use this study in their teaching time.

Throughout the study, a section titled “Say What? Understanding Some of the Strange Sayings of Proverbs” identifies words or examples used in Proverbs that may be difficult to understand. These extra insights and explanations help clarify what the Scripture is teaching for younger readers. Another section of the study called “Lies to Wise” gives girls the opportunity to test worldly wisdom against God’s wisdom found in Proverbs.

“Between God & Me: A Journey through Proverbs” will provide parents and ministry leaders a biblical tool for developing girls into godly women.

SUPER BOWL: Aaron Rodgers, other Packers, looking to ‘follow Jesus’ example’

ARLINGTON?NFL experts and newspaper headline writers have
been quick to label Green Bay starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers the
“Leader of the Pack.”

about 4,712 yards passing and 34 touchdowns, and leading the Packers to
the verge of their first Super Bowl title in more than a decade will do
that for you.

But Rodgers made it clear in Tuesday’s jam-packed
Super Bowl XLV Media Day he only wants to be a leader of God’s pack
when it comes to influencing others to see his faith in Jesus Christ.

all have a platform, we all have a message in our lives,” Rodgers told
Baptist Press and a worldwide media turnout, which ringed his
individual interview area. “I just try to follow Jesus’ example,
leading by example.”

During his six years with the Packers, his
career has seen enough twists and turns, dead ends and detours to test
anyone’s faith. An expected top 10 draft choice, he lasted until the
end of the first round for reasons he never understood. He stood on the
sidelines for three seasons while Packers quarterback Brett Favre went
through his yearly will-he-or-won’t-he retirement routine as Packers QB.

given a chance to start three years ago, he has matured into one of the
top quarterbacks in the league, but not forgetting his past, present
and future in Christ.

“God always has a plan for us, a path.
Sometimes we wish we knew it sooner,” Rodgers said with a bit of a
laugh, “but He always shows up His way.”

He credits his parents,
Ed and Darla Rodgers, who still live in Northern California where he
was raised, for showing him a loving and Christ-centered household. He
also remains close to his two longtime accountability partners, Pastors
Andrew Burchett of the Neighborhood Church in Chico, Calif., and Young
Life Christian youth group leader Matt Hock.

Even in the midst
of the craziness of Super Bowl week and Tuesday’s Media Day at Cowboys
Stadium, Rodgers had already checked in with his accountability team.

won’t be here Sunday, but they’ve been calling and texting me,” he
said. “Matt sent me a photo of his entire Young Life group decked out
in Packers gear.”

Rodgers’ quiet and humble testimony has been enough to inspire Christian NFL fans everywhere and his own teammates as well.

defensive end C.J. Wilson, whose father is a Pentecostal minister in
Mt. Olive, N.C., said he really didn’t know what to expect when he
showed up for his first NFL season this year. But when he saw the
experience of his star quarterback and his witness, Wilson felt
encouraged with his own professional football faith.

“I think it
does help when your superstar quarterback is walking with God. I’ve
been blessed to be around him and see how God makes all things possible
in our lives,” Wilson said.

Packers wide receiver Greg
Jennings is one of Rodgers’ receivers and teammates on the field, but
more importantly, a spiritual brother on and off the field. He said
he’s determined to let Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers be
his platform for God.

“I just want to let people know what it’s
all about. One of the Scriptures I refer to a lot is, ‘to whom much is
given, much is required,’ and I’m required to have a voice [for God]
because I have a stage and a platform,” Jennings said.

“Number one, all glory goes to God. That’s where it starts and that’s where it finishes.”

His father, Greg, Sr., is the pastor of Progressive Deliverance Ministries in Kalamazoo, Mich.

defensive tackle Ryan Pickett has been inspired to join an
anti-pornography campaign in the NFL this year to help rid the
destructive influence among his friends and teammates. He said he had
to turn down the invitations of his teammates this week and other times
who wanted him to go places he knew was not right.

“I value my family and my wife. I try to stay away from that,” Pickett said.

Bay kicker Mason Crosby doesn’t have to be reminded about the number of
Super Bowl games which have come down to a final touchdown or field
goal, including the last Super Bowl held in Texas when the New England
Patriots won on a last-second kick in Houston.

But he said his faith in Christ won’t allow him to be defined by a single kick.

think He helps me knowing that kicking is what I do, not who I am. It’s
not everything that I am. I can escape knowing that my relationship
with Christ is what carries me.”

Crosby has also noticed his quarterback’s faith and his example to his teammates and the sports world.

has a great relationship with the Lord,” Crosby said. “He’s the face of
the franchise and it helps to see he’s living the message all of the

“I’m always reading in the Proverbs and Psalms to relax my
mind before we play,” Crosby added. “I know that God cares for me all
the time regardless of any outcome here.”

Art Stricklin is
a Dallas-based sports correspondent. With reporting by Jerry Pierce,
managing editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN (,
newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.

SUPER BOWL: Football fun, but isn’t ‘who we are,’ Steelers coach Tomlin says

ARLINGTON?The Christian conversion of Pittsburgh Steelers’
third-year offensive lineman Tony Hills saw the team’s practice
facility used for something unusual this season — a baptism. And that
on a team that needed new life to begin this storied season.

appreciated everybody who came in because it was a big moment for me
after I was saved,” Hills told Baptist Press during the annual Super
Bowl media day on Tuesday at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“I had not been baptized before, obviously, and it was something I
needed to do. Baptism stands for leaving the old ways behind and coming
up anew. And I knew that’s exactly what I was trying to do. That is
what our season is about this year.

“In life everybody is
different, but to know that some people on this team share the same
values is a great blessing,” said Hills, a Houston native who played at
the University of Texas.

Pittsburgh Steelers’ coach Mike
Tomlin, in his fourth season as a head coach and the youngest ever to
coach in and win a Super Bowl — in 2009 at age 36 — came into this
season with a stench hovering over the organization and with his star
quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, suspended by the league for the first
six games for alleged sexual assault. Formal charges never
materialized, but it was the second time Roethlisberger was accused of
such conduct, which was enough for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to
act. The suspension eventually was reduced to four games.

the travails and preseason doubters, the Steelers, with Roethlisberger
back in his winning form, are in Super Bowl XLV — the team’s third
championship appearance in six years.

Looking up at the colossal
dome of Cowboys Stadium on Tuesday, Tomlin used words like “blessed”
and “humbled” to describe being on the world stage again in arguably
the biggest sports and entertainment spectacle on the planet.

If being the youngest coach to win the big game is important to him, he doesn’t let on.

down the list, to be quite honest with you,” Tomlin told Baptist Press.
“I’m a husband. I’m a father of three. I’m blessed enough to be the
head coach of this group of men, countless other things. I’m a brother.
I’m a son. It’s down the list.”

Such priority comes from a
public but gently stated Christian faith. Tomlin doesn’t quote
Scripture every time a microphone is near, but he doesn’t shy away when
asked about it either.

“It provides a confidence, not only for
me but for everyone who’s a believer,” Tomlin said as media crowded
around him. “Football is what we do; it’s not who we are. It is our
job, it is our business. We all are very passionate about it, we all
want to do very well at it, but [faith] keeps it in perspective.”

That theme — “football is a job, it’s not who we are” — was prevalent among the Christian players at media day.

example has influenced his team in the most difficult of seasons, even
if the committed believers on the team are the minority, as they are in
most workplaces.

That example hasn’t been lost on Daniel
Sepulveda, a veteran punter from Baylor on injured reserve who will
watch his second Super Bowl in three years from the sideline.

Steelers are a very storied franchise and I think there’s a lot to be
said for running an organization and being a leader with godly
principles and applying those to the way that you lead and the way that
you carry yourself. Absolutely, it’s an encouragement to me to see

Said cornerback Anthony Madison, “A lot of times, the
media doesn’t talk about the good stuff, about the good guys on this
team. They don’t want to carry a positive message. I guess that is just
human nature.”

“My faith has sustained me my entire career,”
said Madison, a fifth-year veteran from Alabama. I have been relying on
God and He is always good to me no matter if we have a good year or
not. I don’t want the enemy to have the upper hand whatever happens in
my life or career.”

Running back Mewelde Moore said Christian
relationships on the team “bring about a confidence and more than
anything else it molds men together. It allows us to communicate on a
spiritual level, to fellowship. It gives you strength in everyday life.
It allows us to be family, even strangers from faraway places, and
allows us to have a common ground and common faith to stand on.”

receiver Antwaan Randle El, in his second Super Bowl with the Steelers,
said having a relationship with Christ is crucial to surviving the
stresses of the NFL.

“Some guys are really outspoken, some guys have it in their heart. But you have to have [God] to make it here.

just a game. We are just blessed to be playing a game, but it’s just a
game,” Randle El said. “It will be going on one day with or without us.”

Hills, the new convert, said he wears Matthew 10:28 on his left arm as a reminder.

says ‘fear not those who can destroy the body, but fear those who can
destroy the soul and the body.’ That means I fear no man, only God. In
the NFL you have to have no fear. Only fear God. That is what I’m
trying to do every day…. I want to honor God every day.”

?With reporting by Art Stricklin, a Dallas-based sports