Nick Richmond, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, ~ Why I serve

“Iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” ~ Proverbs 27:17 (The Bible)

Nick Richmond serves as the Mid Atlantic Director for Ministry Advancement for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  His role includes Engaging, Equipping & Empowering (E3) coaches and athletes. FCA organizes youth sports camps, clubs or huddles on high school and college campuses to invest in and impact the next generation of leaders.  Nick, his wife Lindsay, and their three children reside in Smyrna, DE.

On a personal level, Nick has poured into the life of my son Zach by providing guidance, discipleship and mentoring him over the past several years helping to mold him into the man he has become.  For that, Heather and I are eternally grateful.

I reached out to him a few weeks ago and then followed up with breakfast on Friday.  The food was delicious, the conversation was productive but there was one burning question that was asked……

Why do I Serve?

In 2005 I came to Delaware to play college football at Delaware State University.  I looked like I had it all together on the outside, but internally I was struggling to find acceptance, purpose, and identity.  For me, all these things were intimately connected to what happened on the football field.  Life was a rollercoaster, and everything was tied to my performance.  Playing well meant I was on the mountaintop, while underperforming caused me to spiral.  This would all come to a head in my freshman year while playing against James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  We suffered a humiliating 70-7 loss to the defending National Champion.  Worse than that, I tore the MCL in my right knee for the second time in just over a year.  My world had fallen apart, and my identity was broken, and I felt lost.

Two of my favorite words in the Bible are “But God”.  The next semester I had a “But God” moment when God sent two men into my life, Jeff Braxton, my new offensive line coach, and Randy Chambers, the new FCA guy.  I had no idea, but my life was about to change forever.

In our first offensive line meeting I remember Coach Braxton standing in front of us and he told us that he loved us.  I was extremely skeptical.  What kind of football coach speaks this way?  His love for us was proven over the upcoming weeks and he served us unconditionally.  Coach Braxton invited me to an FCA meeting on campus after I started asking questions.  Looking at the coach’s life and how sacrificial it was, I was able to see God’s love for me through Jesus Christ, who loved me through serving as my substitute on the cross.  He taught me that I didn’t have to earn God’s love on the field or in the classroom.  I was loved just because He, God, created me.  Coach Braxton and Randy invested in me and invited me to come alongside them to serve other athletes.  Helping others find purpose and identity in Jesus became my passion and my purpose.  I started visiting other schools in our area and helping with FCA camps over the summer.

Fast forward 4 years. I was interning with FCA while finishing school and preparing for an opportunity to work out for NFL teams.  After our pro day workout, one team, the New York Giants, invited me to rookie mini-camp and I had an opportunity to fulfill a lifetime dream.  Since I was 8 years old, I dreamed of playing in the NFL because in my mind, it meant that I was somebody.  However, it didn’t matter in the same way anymore.  My journey at DSU and the guides that God gave me in Coach Braxton, and Coach Chambers, I knew that I was already somebody of significance to God.  So, this time when I was cut, and football was over I knew who I was and was ready for the next assignment of ministry through FCA.

So, why do I serve?  I serve because God has loved me and blessed me with a new identity as his child.  I serve because I stand on the shoulders of incredible men who invested their lives to serve others.  I serve so that others can find a new purpose and identity in Jesus and find the life that is found in serving Jesus and others.