NFL star Sam Acho on living authentically for Christ: 'When God gets the glory, the world thrives'

Sam Acho
Sam Acho is an outside linebacker for the Chicago Bears. |

Former Bears linebacker Sam Acho is on a mission to encourage Christians to live boldly and transparently for Christ in a world that promotes superficiality and deception.

“When God gets the glory, people around you benefit and the world around you thrives,” Acho said during a recent interview on "The Crazy Happy Podcast," hosted by Pastor Daniel Fusco and Billy Hallowell.

“When you’re who God created you to be, when you're not faking or pretending or hiding and you're using the gifts God gave youk He gets glory because of that,” he continued. 

After several years in the NFL, Acho is today the vice president of the NFL Players Association, a bestselling author, a philanthropist, and host of the "Athletes for Justice" podcast. Passionate about issues of justice and equality, the 32-year-old athlete often shares how his faith influences every area of his life. 

The son of Nigerian immigrants, Acho grew up taking medical mission trips to Africa along with his family, including his brother and fellow NFL star Emmanuel Acho. Today, he carries on that tradition of service, serving as an ambassador for Living Hope Christian Ministries, which provides medical attention to local Nigerians.

“[For] our parents, the foundation was education, it was hard work, but also faith in Christ and faith in Jesus, saying, ‘I don't care what circumstance you're in, God is greater than those circumstances,’ which is why we did those medical missions trips to Nigeria,” he recalled. 

But living out his faith as an NFL star — a role he said he “fell into” through a series of events — came at a “cost.” Acho shared how, uncertain of how to boldly live out his faith in a highly competitive, sometimes violent sport, he would “hide.”

“[But there was a] cost of hiding who I really was, not only on the football field but in the community,” he admitted. Acho encouraged others who may be hiding who they are in Christ to live boldly, offering the reminder that God gave them certain gifts and talents “for a reason.”

“You can't please God and please man,” he declared. “You can't serve God and serve your money or your fame or your fortune. Pick one or the other. The benefit of God is God ... He is the reward.”

Acho recently released his latest book Let The World See You, which he clarified is “not an autobiography, but a book about what it means to be seen, known, and loved.”

“It’s a book for anybody who's ever felt ashamed, anybody who’s ever felt like they had to hide for whatever reason,” he said. “It’s a book about what it means to be free so people around you benefit, and lastly the world around you thrives. When we all start being who God made us to be, the world will continue to thrive.”

Acho explained that failing to live authentically often stems from the “fear of man,” something Scripture repeatedly warns against.

“Jesus wants our companionship, wants our friendship,” he said. “What I'm learning is that He loves us, He loves me, and not only does Jesus love me, Jesus likes us."

“I've always had this deep desire to be loved for who I really am,” he said, "not for the things I can do, not for my highs ... but will you love me even in the bad?"

The athlete revealed that shortly before his friend died, he shared powerful words of advice with him that guide his thoughts and actions today. 

“He said, ‘There is no greater joy than you will have on this earth, and God gets no greater joy than when you get to know Jesus,” Acho said. “He said, ‘Sam, the second thing I want you to know is that you are worth getting to know.”

“Even in our insecurities, God still accepts us,” he said. “Even in our fear, God still loves us … God is like, ‘I'm with you. I still see the best in you.’"

"We’re all beautiful and broken; life is full of ups and downs. There's a time and a season for everything.”

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