For starters, maybe you don’t know who Maya Moore is… She is one of the best female basketball players of all time, and even earned the title of “Performer of the Year” in 2017 awarded by Sports Illustrated. She was the first overall pick of the WNBA draft back in 2011 after a storied career at college basketball powerhouse, UCONN. She is a 4 time WNBA champion, a WNBA MVP, a 5 time WNBA All-Star, and just last year was named the All-Star Game MVP. At 29, Moore is in her prime, so why in the world has she decided to forego the 2019 season?
This is what Moore wrote in the Players Tribune published yesterday,
“There are different ways to measure success. The success that I’ve been a part of in basketball truly blows my mind every time I think about it. But the main way I measure success in life is something I don’t often get to emphasize through pro ball. I measure success by asking, ‘Am I living out my purpose?’ I learned a long time ago that my purpose is to know Jesus and to make Him known.”
Later in her letter she quotes Colossians 3:23 which reads, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” She points out, “My announcement is about how I’m shifting the focus to the whatever.” Rather than make money playing basketball she plans to invest her time in ministry. I find this letter to be remarkable, and I’d consider this my favorite story I’ve read all week for at least 3 reasons.
- It speaks volumes that Maya is stepping aside right in the middle of her prime. Not only is she stepping aside for a year, but she is stepping into a position that is not lofty. She could step aside and explore broadcasting, coaching, or even just take a year off to return in 2020, but she isn’t doing any of those things. Most people would never have expected her to step aside, but if she did, they’d expect her to do something a bit selfish (we call this “climbing the ladder,” or “building a resume”), or for her to at least seek to make some good money in the next year. Well, I’m in ministry and I can tell you for certain that nobody should go into it with the expectation of making a relatively large amount of money. Also, nobody with a sober mind would go into ministry thinking they will receive nothing but glory and praise for their work– they may receive some of that, however, it comes with a lot of difficulties and even criticism along with it. Maya Moore is stepping away from being paid to play basketball to enter into full-time Gospel service (in whatever capacity that will mean for her), and to a world of watching young children that is astounding. So many kids will look up to her, and they will see that she was so convicted she needed to serve God in this way that she actually left playing basketball to do so.
- I LOVE that Moore was given a platform, a voice, and she used that to explicitly and objectively share the message of the Gospel. She was invited to write in the Players Tribune, do you even realize the names of people who get invited to write in that? We are talking about some BIG name people who contribute for this Tribune such as past contributors Kobe Bryant, Kevin Love, Andrew McCutchen, Derek Jeter, Paul Pierce, Joe Theismann, Steve Kerr, Kenny Lofton, Steph Curry, and now add Maya Moore to that list! She could have been self-promoting, she could have addressed her critics, she could have made an announcement, but instead she shared her faith in Jesus!
- I’m thankful that her letter shows her attitude is currently leaving the door open to see what God has for her future. If you read her letter you’re going to notice she doesn’t commit to anything beyond what she is doing in her next step. She may very well return to basketball in 2020, but she also might not if that’s what the Lord has for her. She writes, “my NO for the 2019 pro season allows me to say YES to my family and faith family like I never have before. I’m sure this year will be hard in ways that I don’t even know yet, but it will also be rewarding in ways I’ve yet to see, too.” Then she ends her letter with, “I’m excited to see what the future holds.” This teaches all of us a lesson to take whatever the next step is that is right for you in your pursuit of Christ, and don’t try and have all of the answers before you take that step. Faith means you are trusting God, and obeying Him, even if you can’t make sense of all the details in the immediacy of things, and even if you aren’t positive of how it’s all going to turn out.
You’ll notice that Moore doesn’t even reveal for sure what she will specifically be doing in ministry moving forward; she only says she will be working towards some ministry “dreams,” or goals, moving forward. In a world full of bad news, and in a sports world full of news about injuries, arrests, and financial issues, I’m so happy to read this story from Maya Moore. I’m excited to see what the future holds for my sister in Christ, whether that means returning to basketball in a year, or not.