I had the privilege this weekend to have a brief interview with Tyler Zeller, one of our college students (and, as you may have heard, a pretty decent basketball player). This is a summary of that interview, which you can view below.
JD Greear: Let’s sit down—you’re making me look short.
Tyler Zeller: I don’t think sitting down will help. You still look short.
JDG: I know you get this a lot, but what’s it like going through life seven feet tall?
TZ: It’s actually great. Anywhere I go, I can find people in a crowd. I’ve also been a rallying-point for people. You know, “Hey, when you’re ready to leave, just meet up at Tyler.”
JDG: How did you come to Christ?
TZ: I was brought up in a family that took me to church every Sunday, so I had heard the gospel. But I finally understood the gift we have in Jesus Christ my sophomore year in high school. It just kind of hit me that it wasn’t about what I do or what I will do but what Christ has done for us. That no matter what happens, I’m forgiven through Him.
JDG: People get a little cynical when they hear athletes talk about Jesus, as if Jesus is just the guy who gives them success. What does Jesus mean to you? And if, for whatever reason, things don’t work for you in the NBA, what would Jesus be for you then?
TZ: Jesus is everything to me. Basketball is what I do—it’s not who I am. Christ is who I am. And if I get hurt, He still means everything to me. Of course I don’t want to have a career-ending injury. It would be devastating, but God’s got a plan greater than we can imagine. If I have that kind of injury, then my plan isn’t in basketball, it’s in something else. I have to continue to trust God no matter what happens. I can glorify Him through basketball, but I can glorify Him through something else too.
JDG: As a basketball player, how do you glorify God with the gifts that He has given you?
TZ: On the court, I try to play as hard as possible. I try to be somebody who plays respectably and isn’t considered dirty. Off the court, I’m constantly publicized. If I were to go out and get drunk, that would be publicized. No matter what I’m doing, I’m being watched, so I have to make sure that I’m giving the right image. But when you’re walking with Christ, that’s easy to do. You don’t have to force it; it’s just something that happens.
JDG: How can we pray for you?
TZ: I’ve got a lot of difficult decisions coming up that I don’t know a lot about, so I’d appreciate prayer for wisdom in those decisions. When I get drafted, I’ll go to a city where I probably won’t know anyone. Getting in with the right people and the right church will be something I hope to do. Then I hope to go out and try to spread the good news and minister to that city.
JDG: Do you promise that if you get drafted to a city with a Summit church plant, you’ll attend there and tithe?
TZ: Ha. I promise it will be the first place I visit.
Here is the video…