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Faith & Business: An interview with Devon McDonald on overcoming obstacles with God

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Podcast Transcript

Jennifer Sakowski:
In this unique episode, I have not only former NFL star, but my previous boss, Devon McDonald. Here is your warning. We go heavy in overcoming obstacles with Jesus. We talk about faith and business. Hey there. Grab your coffee and let’s talk business; how to grow it, how to sustain it and how to harness the wonderful worldwide Web to do it with me your host, Jennifer Sakowski. Let’s get started.

Jennifer Sakowski:
Welcome to a brand new episode of Raney Day Talks podcast. I’m your host, Jennifer Sakowski. Today, I have a very special guest. This guest I would consider it’s my big brother, Devon. I’ve known Devon, oh my goodness. What? 2006 or ’09 that I was hired on the nonprofit. Devon and his wife was my boss back then. I am just so pleased and privileged to be able to have you on our podcast today.

Jennifer Sakowski:
Mr. Devon McDonald, former NFL athlete, worked not-for-profit various organizations since then and now is with Athletes in Action as associates director to NFL Chaplains. Mr. Devon McDonald, welcome.

Devon McDonald:
Thank you, Jennifer. It is a pleasure. Just to see how you have grown over these years with a family and your business and being there at the Genesis, you know what I mean? I remember when you were formulating and going to school and all that. It’s a joy to see where you are today.

Jennifer Sakowski:
That feeling’s mutual. I feel like there’s so much that I could unpackage just from growth on both parts as a leader who I worked under to seeing you where you’re at now and the obstacles that you’ve overcome as well as in my own walk of parallel alongside of you. Something that you had shared with me, and that’s one thing I love about doing this podcast, is because I’ll bring on friends, colleagues, business owners that I know, but I’m always learning something new about them.

Jennifer Sakowski:
I would love just to tap into, as we get started, about what’s faith played a role in? Most of our audience, they’re business owners. They’re in that grind. They’re pushing that dirt every day, all day long. I think sometimes that we hit this wall or this burnout when we forget that it’s important to identify what we’re pouring back in. I guess, talk to me a little bit too about where you’re at right now.

Devon McDonald:
My brain works in a different way sometimes, so let me answer the first question first. What faith means to me in this is that I can’t do by myself. I’ve tried. I’m an individual worker. I work better by myself, which is not good all the time. You know what I mean? Sometimes that’s good to be self-motivated that way, but God didn’t make us that way. He make us to need people. That’s why he said in Genesis, “It’s not good that man should be alone.” That’s why a help-mate comes along.

Devon McDonald:
Even within that though, the faith component is humongous, that what I’m doing, number one, I’m not doing it for myself. I’m doing it to glorify God, first and foremost. My work is not really work. It’s worship. What I do is a worship as unto God. It’s literally, “God, this is what I’m doing, so I don’t need a boss over me.” That’s what people say. “I don’t want to be micromanaged.” That means you don’t like to work. Because, I want to be micromanaged. I want you to see every detail of what I’m doing. Why? What I’m doing is onto God.

Devon McDonald:
Let me tell you something. There’s no person more detailed than God, because he knows you inside and outside. Folks can just see on the outside. God can see your both side. Talk about micromanager. He’s also a macro-manager, so he can hit you from any direction. You know what I mean? With that, just being accountable to God in what I do and to recognize that it is for him. You know what I mean? Then, it makes work so much easier. My wife, she’ll come by and say, “It’s time to shut down.” It’s that bad. She knows I can work all day, because this is my worship to God.

Devon McDonald:
How much do I want to worship God? A whole lot. You know what I’m saying? Because there’s no thing that he withhold from those that worship him. You know what I mean? He’s seeking such to worship him, and he said in the book of John, to worship him in spirit and in truth. For me, seeing work as worship just literally just blown the cover off. You know what I’m saying? Because literally this is my service to him.

Jennifer Sakowski:
That’s taken shape over the years, your work. How has that helped you overcome when it doesn’t feel good? There’s circumstances within organizations where stuff hits the fan and it doesn’t feel good, but because of what you have that’s bigger than you, how has that had and impact?

Devon McDonald:
Great question. The thing is, number one, you’re doing it for God, but the beautiful thing is, you’re doing it with God. He said he’ll never leave you nor forsake you, so whatever you’re going through, he’s going through it with you. You know what I mean? I quote that when Jesus was on the boat, he’s at the bottom of the boat. The storm was raging, and he told them, “We’re going to the other side.” Then, he went and slept.

Devon McDonald:
He’s sleeping, and these disciples’ like, “Don’t you care that we’re going to perish? Help Lord.” He was like, “Man, why you all tripping? Really, why are you all tripping? Why are you guys acting like this? Peace be still.” You know what I’m saying? He said, “Where’s your faith?” You know what I’m saying? The thing is that we all are going to go through things. I don’t care who you are, because the way up is first the way down. That’s what people don’t understand.

Devon McDonald:
If you want to be successful in life, you’re going to have to step backwards. Because number one, that’s how you go up. If you’re going to get a rebound or you want to do a vertical jump, guess what you do first? You go down, because the more you go down is the more you go up. That’s not just physically. That’s literally business. You name it. You name any successful person in business. I guarantee they’ll tell you, “Man, there came a point in my life that I was nothing. I didn’t know what was going to happen. My back was against the wall. It looked like total failure, and I made a decision and choices. Instead of quitting, I made a choice and here I am today.”

Devon McDonald:
Every single person, truly, who have been successful will tell you that. You know what I’m saying? I’m not talking instant success. I mean the true to grind success that they can look back and they can mark times. It’s not just time. It’s times, because it is a process. It is a journey. Until you die, God wants to move you along. A lot of time, we want to build a house, when God wants us to be at hotel. See what I’m saying? God is saying, “Stay at this hotel. Just chill there for a while. We’ve got to move on now.” What we do is we build a house. We just want to live there, and he’s like, “No, I’ve got more for you.” See what I’m saying?

Devon McDonald:
How many of us want to look less? How many of us want to look like, “I’m advancing, I’m advancing, I’m advancing. I’m going to take some step back.” What? Because the world does not put value on that, but that’s not the way it works. It works that naturally and in the spiritual that you’re going to take some … God is with you. That’s the key point there is that he’ll never leave us nor forsake us. He is with you. No matter what, business, in life, in our relationships, that will take place.

Devon McDonald:
That’s why after the rain, the sun shines brighter. Think about it. The sun’s going to shine every single day, but if it rained for a few days and it’s been dark, when the sun come up, doesn’t seem like you got to squint your eyes. It’s like, “Man, this sun is so bright.” Listen, it’s the same sun that comes out every day. It’s just that after it’s been dark and it comes out in the light, it just shines so much brighter and that’s how it is in our lives. That’s why we can appreciate it.

Devon McDonald:
Then, you can have the joy, you can have just a praise of God like you never did before. Why? You’ve seen him in a way you haven’t seen him in a while.

Jennifer Sakowski:
Absolutely. Absolutely. For those listening, it’s obvious that you can pick up on Devon’s heart and his fire for God and then his fire for what he does. Tell us, what about what you do now?

Jennifer Sakowski:
In this unique episode, I have not only former NFL star, but my previous boss, Devon McDonald. Here is your warning. We go heavy in overcoming obstacles with Jesus. We talk about faith and business. Hey there. Grab your coffee and let’s talk business; how to grow it, how to sustain it and how to harness the wonderful worldwide Web to do it with me your host, Jennifer Sakowski. Let’s get started.

Jennifer Sakowski:
Welcome to a brand new episode of Raney Day Talks podcast. I’m your host, Jennifer Sakowski. Today, I have a very special guest. This guest I would consider it’s my big brother, Devon. I’ve known Devon, oh my goodness. What? 2006 or ’09 that I was hired on the nonprofit. Devon and his wife was my boss back then. I am just so pleased and privileged to be able to have you on our podcast today.

Jennifer Sakowski:
Mr. Devon McDonald, former NFL athlete, worked not-for-profit various organizations since then and now is with Athletes in Action as associates director to NFL Chaplains. Mr. Devon McDonald, welcome.

Devon McDonald:
Thank you, Jennifer. It is a pleasure. Just to see how you have grown over these years with a family and your business and being there at the Genesis, you know what I mean? I remember when you were formulating and going to school and all that. It’s a joy to see where you are today.

Jennifer Sakowski:
That feeling’s mutual. I feel like there’s so much that I could unpackage just from growth on both parts as a leader who I worked under to seeing you where you’re at now and the obstacles that you’ve overcome as well as in my own walk of parallel alongside of you. Something that you had shared with me, and that’s one thing I love about doing this podcast, is because I’ll bring on friends, colleagues, business owners that I know, but I’m always learning something new about them.

Jennifer Sakowski:
I would love just to tap into, as we get started, about what’s faith played a role in? Most of our audience, they’re business owners. They’re in that grind. They’re pushing that dirt every day, all day long. I think sometimes that we hit this wall or this burnout when we forget that it’s important to identify what we’re pouring back in. I guess, talk to me a little bit too about where you’re at right now.

Devon McDonald:
My brain works in a different way sometimes, so let me answer the first question first. What faith means to me in this is that I can’t do by myself. I’ve tried. I’m an individual worker. I work better by myself, which is not good all the time. You know what I mean? Sometimes that’s good to be self-motivated that way, but God didn’t make us that way. He make us to need people. That’s why he said in Genesis, “It’s not good that man should be alone.” That’s why a help-mate comes along.

Devon McDonald:
Even within that though, the faith component is humongous, that what I’m doing, number one, I’m not doing it for myself. I’m doing it to glorify God, first and foremost. My work is not really work. It’s worship. What I do is a worship as unto God. It’s literally, “God, this is what I’m doing, so I don’t need a boss over me.” That’s what people say. “I don’t want to be micromanaged.” That means you don’t like to work. Because, I want to be micromanaged. I want you to see every detail of what I’m doing. Why? What I’m doing is onto God.

Devon McDonald:
Let me tell you something. There’s no person more detailed than God, because he knows you inside and outside. Folks can just see on the outside. God can see your both side. Talk about micromanager. He’s also a macro-manager, so he can hit you from any direction. You know what I mean? With that, just being accountable to God in what I do and to recognize that it is for him. You know what I mean? Then, it makes work so much easier. My wife, she’ll come by and say, “It’s time to shut down.” It’s that bad. She knows I can work all day, because this is my worship to God.

Devon McDonald:
How much do I want to worship God? A whole lot. You know what I’m saying? Because there’s no thing that he withhold from those that worship him. You know what I mean? He’s seeking such to worship him, and he said in the book of John, to worship him in spirit and in truth. For me, seeing work as worship just literally just blown the cover off. You know what I’m saying? Because literally this is my service to him.

Jennifer Sakowski:
That’s taken shape over the years, your work. How has that helped you overcome when it doesn’t feel good? There’s circumstances within organizations where stuff hits the fan and it doesn’t feel good, but because of what you have that’s bigger than you, how has that had and impact?

Devon McDonald:
Great question. The thing is, number one, you’re doing it for God, but the beautiful thing is, you’re doing it with God. He said he’ll never leave you nor forsake you, so whatever you’re going through, he’s going through it with you. You know what I mean? I quote that when Jesus was on the boat, he’s at the bottom of the boat. The storm was raging, and he told them, “We’re going to the other side.” Then, he went and slept.

Devon McDonald:
He’s sleeping, and these disciples’ like, “Don’t you care that we’re going to perish? Help Lord.” He was like, “Man, why you all tripping? Really, why are you all tripping? Why are you guys acting like this? Peace be still.” You know what I’m saying? He said, “Where’s your faith?” You know what I’m saying? The thing is that we all are going to go through things. I don’t care who you are, because the way up is first the way down. That’s what people don’t understand.

Devon McDonald:
If you want to be successful in life, you’re going to have to step backwards. Because number one, that’s how you go up. If you’re going to get a rebound or you want to do a vertical jump, guess what you do first? You go down, because the more you go down is the more you go up. That’s not just physically. That’s literally business. You name it. You name any successful person in business. I guarantee they’ll tell you, “Man, there came a point in my life that I was nothing. I didn’t know what was going to happen. My back was against the wall. It looked like total failure, and I made a decision and choices. Instead of quitting, I made a choice and here I am today.”

Devon McDonald:
Every single person, truly, who have been successful will tell you that. You know what I’m saying? I’m not talking instant success. I mean the true to grind success that they can look back and they can mark times. It’s not just time. It’s times, because it is a process. It is a journey. Until you die, God wants to move you along. A lot of time, we want to build a house, when God wants us to be at hotel. See what I’m saying? God is saying, “Stay at this hotel. Just chill there for a while. We’ve got to move on now.” What we do is we build a house. We just want to live there, and he’s like, “No, I’ve got more for you.” See what I’m saying?

Devon McDonald:
How many of us want to look less? How many of us want to look like, “I’m advancing, I’m advancing, I’m advancing. I’m going to take some step back.” What? Because the world does not put value on that, but that’s not the way it works. It works that naturally and in the spiritual that you’re going to take some … God is with you. That’s the key point there is that he’ll never leave us nor forsake us. He is with you. No matter what, business, in life, in our relationships, that will take place.

Devon McDonald:
That’s why after the rain, the sun shines brighter. Think about it. The sun’s going to shine every single day, but if it rained for a few days and it’s been dark, when the sun come up, doesn’t seem like you got to squint your eyes. It’s like, “Man, this sun is so bright.” Listen, it’s the same sun that comes out every day. It’s just that after it’s been dark and it comes out in the light, it just shines so much brighter and that’s how it is in our lives. That’s why we can appreciate it.

Devon McDonald:
Then, you can have the joy, you can have just a praise of God like you never did before. Why? You’ve seen him in a way you haven’t seen him in a while.

Jennifer Sakowski:
Absolutely. Absolutely. For those listening, it’s obvious that you can pick up on Devon’s heart and his fire for God and then his fire for what he does. Tell us, what about what you do now?

Devon McDonald:
Me and my wife … How much time do we have? Because I don’t want to-

Jennifer Sakowski:
I’m good.

Devon McDonald:
… Okay. Long story short, when we left the last ministry, sports road that we were a part of, we was looking to come on Athletes in Action as a chaplain for the Steelers over there in Pittsburgh.

Jennifer Sakowski:
Come on.

Devon McDonald:
God saw it different. You know what I mean? Literally right now, we are the Pro-NFL directors to the chaplaincy program. At least associate director to work along with a team. Our job is just to be support, which I believe leaders are anyway. You know what I mean? True leaders, you support people. They do the work and you support them and love on them. That’s our primary job. However, prior to really getting launched out into it, we are missionaries. It’s Athletes in Action, and we are under the umbrella of Cru, Campus Crusade.

Devon McDonald:
Before we get launched out, we have to raise our support, because we are missionaries. Prior to this year, I would not consider myself a missionary. Wouldn’t be wanting to consider myself a missionary, but I tell people, having played in the NFL, having played at Notre Dame, if I’m being introduced today, and they asked, “We could only use one title to introduce you. Would it be NFL, Notre Dame,” dah, dah, dah, “Nope, call me a missionary.” You know what I’m saying? Because I consider it an honor to be one that submit to God in a way that we serve God people.

Devon McDonald:
Ultimately, our mission is to win, build, send. Win them to Christ, build them, discipleship, and then send them out into the world, which is a great commission.

Jennifer Sakowski:
Which is awesome. Being with you way back, when? At SportsWorld, when I was first getting really my feet wet in business and in the not-for-profit world and to seeing you where you’re at now, I think it just fits. This is what you guys were meant to do. I am so excited to be a far, but being through that journey with you. I also want to peel back the curtain a little bit is that this is a unique role for you, and especially after leaving the role that you had at SportsWorld, and then you had worked with another organization in between.

Jennifer Sakowski:
I just see so much growth in you in the business world as a leader. Speak to that. Speak to some of the things that you’ve overcome from that not-for-profit realm and the jobs you had in place and how it’s prepared you to now.

Devon McDonald:
Nothing is accidental. I believe it’s more providential than accidental, because ultimately, Romans 8:28, God works all things together for good for they that love God and love according to his purpose.

Jennifer Sakowski:
That’s mine, by the way. Just to let you know and interrupt you. That one’s mine.

Devon McDonald:
God uses everything. He is the most efficient creator ever, because he is. He uses every dynamics of our life, every failure, everything to bring you to the place. I think he has a path, but if we look at our GPS, it says, “Recalculate.” It has to read, and for mine, it reads a lot. You know what I’m saying? Because I’m at a way that seemed right, and I’m like, “Oh, that seems right. It looks right. Let me go down that path.” He’s like, “Nope, nope, nope.”

Devon McDonald:
Sometimes it’s not until I literally get to the dead end. Even sometime with the dead end, I’m trying to change it from dead end to then beginning. You know what I mean? He said, “No, I’ve got another way for you to go.” Everything that you go through helps you where you will be. What I tell people is to be faithful where you are. It may not be where you want to be. A friend of mine used to tell me, and you remember him, Tom [inaudible 00:13:29]. He said, “Wherever you are, be there.” Be there. Why? Because you would get what you need for the moment in that moment, so when you get to the next moment, you have something prepared.

Devon McDonald:
What happens is in life sometimes, we’re so busy about what we want to be. We complain about where we are. We disgusted and we just, “I can’t wait to be there. I can’t wait to be there.” When we get there, guess what? We bring our disgust over there with us, and then we complain over there again. Guess what? It’s not the situation or the circumstance. It’s how we see it. See what I’m saying? If I see it as, “Okay, there’s something I need to learn here,” and the same thing in relationships, “If I’m getting a better wife, if I get a better …” You get over there and they’re going to be new situation, new problems, because it’s still you going over there.

Devon McDonald:
As long as you are there, you’re going to bring whatever you have over there. You know what I mean? Changing the circumstance or changing the scenery doesn’t change the situation. The changes that take place is in our hearts. When our hearts are changed, that’s why David prayed, “Create me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Because when that happens, then the way I see things is different. You know what I mean? When I left the ministry, I went into insurance. People are like, “What? You’re selling insurance?” One guy, he hung up the phone on me.

Devon McDonald:
He was like, “Man, go to school or something, man.” It’s like that’s what I needed. That’s what I needed. Listen to this. It was straight commission. When I went over there, I’m not used to this. I played in the NFL. I got a contract where we lost the game. Some games, by the way, I didn’t want to pick my paycheck, because I was like, “Man, we lost so bad. I don’t want to pick no paycheck.” I didn’t think we were deserving of it. You know what I mean? But I got one anyway.

Devon McDonald:
When I got to the SportsWorld, I was a salaried employee. Bad day, good day, I still got paid. For the first time, I’m straight commission. If I kill it, I eat, if I don’t, man, that’s humbling. You know what I mean? It taught me how to hustle. It taught me how to just get it done. You just have to get it done. When I came into this ministry or came into AIA, it was just like, “Phew.” That helped me here. You know what I’m saying?

Devon McDonald:
When I hit the ground, people are telling me, “Man, some days I just don’t feel like it.” I’m like, “Not me.” You know what I’m saying? Because I have to go get it. You know what I mean? I’ve got to make these calls. I’ve got to follow up. I’ve got to slightly bother people. You can’t bother them too much. You don’t want to nag them, but you want to just let them know, “You promised me some money.” You just have to stay at it. You know what I’m saying? Then, because as we go off into the ministry, be able to communicate with the chaplains.

Devon McDonald:
That’s going to take on another dynamic in itself, because you communicate with people who are very busy. You know what I’m saying? But they need to be communicated to, prayed for, and all that, be encouraged, because all of us can be depleted. You know what I mean? Every one of us are susceptible. You know what I mean? That’s why we … Anyway.

Jennifer Sakowski:
That’s a big part of it. Even in the companies that we work with and individuals that we serve at our marketing firm, I see this happen all the time is that they’re constantly giving, giving, giving. Whether it’s with their team, the clients that they support, the people that they give to in the not-for-profit realm. How do you continually pour back into you to equip yourself to go out and lead?

Devon McDonald:
Of course, I fail from time to time. A friend of mine, you remember him, Steve Grant, he said this to me. He said, “HALT.” He said, “Whenever you’re hungry, whenever you’re angry, whenever you’re lonely, whenever you’re tired, you need to halt, because you’re susceptible to who? The devil.” Remember now, when the devil left Jesus, and when did he attempt him?

Jennifer Sakowski:
In the wilderness.

Devon McDonald:
When he was weak. When he was weak, when he was hungry. He had just fasted 40 days and 40 nights, so he was the H to the HALT. He was hungry, so he came after Jesus. In our lives, when is the devil going to come at us? He’s going to come when you’re hungry, when you’re angry, when you’re lonely, when you’re tired. He’ll also come when you’re thinking more than when you’re not, when you’re lifted up in pride. In some ays too, in the text, that’s what he was trying to do with Jesus, because he’d brought him up to that pinnacle of the temple and said, “Look down. You could have all these kingdoms if you just bow down to worship me.”

Devon McDonald:
He said, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” You know what I mean? Just recognizing that. Once you recognize it, then you have to repent. You know what I’m saying? You have to confess and repent. Where I’m at lately, it’s like the word of God, it is paramount. In my church, we have a saying, “Dusted Bibles reflect dirty lives.” Wow. It’s powerful statement. “Dusted Bibles reflect dirty lives.” If you’re not in the word of God, you might be fooling the people, but eventually it will show itself, because man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceed out of the mouth of God.

Devon McDonald:
Whenever I’m weak, whenever I’ve succumbed to sin is when I’m not in the word of God, truly in the word of God. Not in the word of God to go preach and to teach and to show people how great I am. No, no, no, no, no, no, no. You know what I’m saying? We don’t do that with food, do we? We don’t eat food to show people that we’re eating. We eat food, because we’re hungry. We eat food, because we need it. You know what I’m saying? It’s like the word of God, “Man shan’t live by bread alone, but by every word.” Am I eating words to show people, “Look what I’m eating?”

Devon McDonald:
No. You’re eating food, this word, because you need to be fed. Now, people can benefit from it. Yes, they can serve. By you eating natural food, you have energy. Now people are benefiting from the food that you ate, because if you didn’t eat food, guess what? You wouldn’t be able to play basketball, you wouldn’t be able to work, you wouldn’t be able to do what you do. But because you eat food, you can show them the result of the food. You know what I’m saying? It’s the same thing with the word of God.

Devon McDonald:
It’s like, I consume the word of God, and so now you are getting the fruits of the word of God. I’m not getting the word of God to just show you how great I can quote scriptures, how great I can put this story together. You know what I’m saying? Extra jeezy and do all these things. No. If I don’t do that, no. I need this just for me. When I’m hungry, when I’m angry, when I’m lonely, when I’m tired, guess what? I can be holy as he is holy.

Jennifer Sakowski:
That’s good. That’s so good. Then, how does that translate? I feel like that hits the spiritual and emotional realm. Physically, as a leader, how do you stay fit? How do you show up?

Devon McDonald:
As a leader. You have to model it. You have to model it. From a physical standpoint, showing people at your home, in the business of how to be accountable and be responsible. Tony Dungy said, “The best ability is availability.” Teaching people how to have that availability, responsibility and accountability. You know what I mean? A lot of times people don’t want to be accountable and you have to be accountable. You know what I mean? For productivity, accountability is a necessity. You know what I’m saying?

Devon McDonald:
It does go hand in hand that you have to be accountable to your actions, accountable to people and to productivity. From a business standpoint, absolutely. Those key instruments is what we utilize.

Jennifer Sakowski:
I want to keep continuing pulling this along-

Devon McDonald:
That’s okay.

Jennifer Sakowski:
… it’s because I think that it’s important, especially for business owners who are starting out and taking that leap that they’re faced with so much. They’re faced with so much. They’re faced with the fear of the unknown. I see one thing that we talked about before we hit record is how you’re continually pressing to grow. Whether it’s in knowledge, whether it’s people who you’re with what. Something that I touched base on an early recording is education and growing and being willing to be a forever learner, but then also that you’re a sphere of influence and how that matters. How do those play-

Devon McDonald:
Big time, big time, big time.

Jennifer Sakowski:
… a role in your life right now and as you’re building your own …

Devon McDonald:
Jen, I applaud you, because you used to convict me. Jennifer, every year that she worked there, she was taking classes. Constant taking classes. I was like, “I’m going to get my MBA. I’m going to get my MBA.” I was one of them. I’m a guy. You know what I mean? It never happened. It never happened. Now in my life, I realize how important education is. It’s not so much the education, it’s the process of it. It’s, I’m in the process of learning, of being able to look at a situation maybe from a different angle and be able to speak to it and so forth.

Devon McDonald:
That is critical and important that there is a continuation of growth in your life from an education standpoint. There’s just no other way, because you’re either growing or you’re dying. If you think you’re the same, you’re lying. Nothing stays the same. You know what I mean? It just doesn’t. That’s a choice. My last ministry was with, we have a great slogan, “You’re not born a winner or loser, but you’re born a chooser.” Ultimately, Joshua 24:15, I think says, “Choose ye, this day who you’re going to serve.” Choice. “I present to you life and death. Choose life.”

Devon McDonald:
It’s about choice. We choose whether we’re going to grow. If we choose not to grow, we have already made the choice. We have chosen to die or die in, because there’s just two ways. I’m either growing or dying. I’m either in lights or I’m in darkness. I think we think we’re the third. I think as people, we think sometime that we’re the third. That, “I may not be as bad as those people. I may not be as good as those people, but I am me.” You know what I’m saying? We think we’re the third. We’re the third part of the trinity or whatever the case. No. You’re either with God or you’re against God.

Devon McDonald:
But now there’s no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. I’m either walking after the flesh or I’m walking after the spirit. There’s no in between. The only thing in between is our own righteousness, which is filthy rags and really wickedness, because again, if it’s not God’s righteousness, you’re just as good as the devil. It’s either God’s righteousness or unrighteousness. Reality, you know what I mean? Just understanding those principles and walking in them.

Devon McDonald:
A friend of mine said it, and I looked into my house, in my office, and it’s there. Here’s what it says. “We need to live every day by the God’s grace and not perfection.” I know you, because me and you got a similar type of mindset. We are perfectionists. That’s not the best mindset, because perfection, in the scripture said, “Be perfect even as your father in heaven is perfect.” The word really translate it to say, be mature. Mature in your thinking and your action and so forth. What we’re after is, “I don’t want to make any mistake.” How do you learn? How do you learn most of the time? It’s from knowing what not to do? You know what I’m saying?

Devon McDonald:
In the process of it, you might discover something new. Who knows? You know what I’m saying? Just the fact that you open up your mind and not be so rigid, you meaning any anyone of us, and then be open and realize that it’s no goodness of our own. It’s by the grace of God, because God does resists the proud. That’s what perfectionist is. It’s proud. It’s pride. It’s to say, “Look what I’m doing it-”

Jennifer Sakowski:
In control.

Devon McDonald:
“… and how great I’m doing it.” You know what I’m saying? The reality of it, he resists those people, but he gives more grace to the humble and man. The things that he allow in our lives most of the time it’s to humble us, because he wants to give us grace. It’s like, do I want to be humble? I want the grace. I don’t want to be humble, because I want to use the grace to show people how great I am. The reality of it is, again, those two sides. It doesn’t work. If I really want the grace, I’ve got to be humble.

Jennifer Sakowski:
Absolutely. I think my biggest times that I can look back for growth is the times that I let go of that control and that perfectionism and be like, “Okay, it’s okay. This doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s going to be messy, but we’re going to continue walking through it, because I’m going to choose to face this thing head-on.” I know there’s something that you had always said. There are so many Devon-isms that I have taken. Devon-stranger-isms that I have taken over the years and even applied to my own business and my own team and our culture here. It’s, “If you can’t face it, you can’t conquer it.”

Jennifer Sakowski:
That was something that, over the years, it’s like, I would much rather how uncomfortable it is or how I don’t want to do it, but I’ll just say a prayer and just walk through it. I think that letting go of that pride, that perfectionism, that control and just knowing like, “Whatever’s going to happen, I’m here and I’m going to face it head-on.” I know that’s something that you’ve constantly said over the years when I worked with you, and that it just stuck with me.

Jennifer Sakowski:
Even now, and especially in face of what we’re facing right now in the world, it’s like, we’ve just got to face it. We just have to face it.

Devon McDonald:
The thing about preaching though, a scripture says, “Study to show yourself quiet.” Because we don’t give account for every single word. “By your words, you are justified and by your words, you are condemned.” That’s what Jesus said. Right? The thing about your word is your word will try you. It’s great to preach it, but just know it will come back and try you. You know what I’m saying? The way it should work is, let the word try you and then preach it, but a lot of times, we get it and we preach it and we haven’t lived it.

Devon McDonald:
Then it comes back and try us, and the people say, “I thought this.” “Well, the thing is, I brought it to market too quick.” You know what I’m saying? “I didn’t work it out in the back room, and so that’s what I’m learning now you’re walking through now,” is literally, “You know what? Just live it out in quiet and let people …” A friend of mine said, “Study so much, that you get people from the overflow.” You know what I’m saying? You’re so enveloped with it. The same thing in business. You know what I’m saying? God’s been in this business, is that you don’t come off like you know everything, but you’re so knowledgeable about it.

Devon McDonald:
You love it so much that as you talk, people will see it, and man, they’re like, “I love that fruit. Let me get that fruit. Let me get some of that,” because it’s good fruit. You know what I’m saying? You’re not giving them leaves, because that’s all you have, because you don’t have the fruit. You’re giving them fruit of your expertise that you have learned that, that you keep on studying-

Jennifer Sakowski:
You’ve applied it. You’ve lived it.

Devon McDonald:
… You know what I’m saying? You just love it so much that people, man, it’s like, “Wow, that’s good. That’s good. That’s good.”

Jennifer Sakowski:
Absolutely. Absolutely. What’s the next steps for Devon?

Devon McDonald:
The next step? I’ll tell you what, that we talk. I’m thinking about seminary and still working in the business and everything, but I’m in love with the learning aspect. From a biblical standpoint, I want to be sharper. You know what I mean? I really want to spend some time in it. I do it by myself, but like anything else, we do need instructors. We do need people who are teachers and are qualified in the area, and see how God leads from that. You know what I mean?

Devon McDonald:
One thing I learned from the last ministry that we were at, SportsWorld, is that don’t get so tunnel-visioned that you can’t see God’s big picture. You know what I’m saying? Don’t get so locked in, that if God … Let’s share this example. When Abraham prayed for a son, basically, and God told Sarah she’s going to be pregnant, she laughed and everything. Eventually, Isaac came forth. What did God say? “Go sacrifice him.” Wow. That’s a tall order. Don’t have any children. I finally got one, and the same thing that I prayed for, God is asking me for it.

Jennifer Sakowski:
Absolutely.

Devon McDonald:
Wow. “You know what? I’ve obeyed you this far. I’m going to keep on obeying.” Packed up the young man and going up. When he got up there, he’s about to sacrifice him, stop him. I just want to know how many of us would have heard that. I don’t know if I would have heard it. That’s humbling. You know what I’m saying? That’s challenging, but it’s a state so in tune with God, that if God changes, which he can, you know what I’m saying? He can say, “Change.” That’s one thing I tell business owners out there. “Stay so in tune with the voice of God, through the word of God, because God speaks through the elements.”

Devon McDonald:
Most of the time, guess how God speaks to us. Through the word of God. If you’re not spending time in the word of God, if you’re not hearing, because faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the word of God, if we’re not hearing the word of God, we’re not hearing from God. Can he speak to your spouse and your children? Yeah, but that’s not modus operandi. That’s not how he’s going to talk to you most of the time. Most of the time, it’s going to be through the word of God, you spend spending time in it. You know what I’m saying? Just being able to hear the audibles.

Devon McDonald:
I love football. I love sports. One thing that I love about it is audible. It’s like we come out, we call a play, but guess what? Why would we run the play when we can see eminent failure? Why run into a brick wall? Why run into a dead end? You know what I’m saying? Audible, it’s okay. But if you’re not in tune, you won’t hear that. You know what I’m saying? If you haven’t been studying. You see what I’m saying? If you’re not endowed yourself with the knowledge and hearing, then good chance, and we all can raise our hand and say, we have done that.

Devon McDonald:
But for the maturity of those that have been perfected, that we get to a point where we’re able to hear God in not our decision making process so that we can be effective.

Jennifer Sakowski:
Especially in business, there’s so many things that are unknown. There’s no books for this. That’s one thing that we have to drive on our experience, but being tapped in and being able to make those decisions and be able to leap into faith and be like, “I know it’s out of my hands, but you’ve got this.” I know for me and leading our team and our company, that has paved the way for me. I’ve just been able to give that, “It’s not me. I am backed by so much bigger, so I can walk boldly into this decision,” has helped me face so many decisions head-on that word could make or break our situation.

Jennifer Sakowski:
All right. Let’s get back to Athletes in Action. Tell us a little bit about what you’re going to be doing once you’re onboarded and what that looks like.

Devon McDonald:
As we onboard, we’re going to be traveling. Shereasher and I do, we’re going to do a lot of traveling going through the different teams. Currently now, we have 12 guys and ladies. That’s a unique thing about Athletes in Action is that we believe in the marriage. Marriage is being decimated today, and this quarantine made it even worse. You know what I’m saying? Because now you have people together who normally don’t spend time together in that way. A lot has been going on, but regardless, marriages is key.

Devon McDonald:
It’s the oldest institution God created. “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife, then two shall become one.” The preacher, “Which one though?” We believe marriages are key. We will go and go about, and like I said, just love on them. You know what I mean? Just support them. See where they need it. We’re new at it. Some of these guys have been on it for 40 years, but it’s okay. Beautiful thing is God is the one that puts people in position and he puts you there for a reason.

Devon McDonald:
Sometimes, I don’t know that. When I was getting my SportsWorld, I was a young leader, and I would pray, “God, if this position is for me, leave me here. If not, get me out of here.” I think you remember me saying that. You know what I’m saying? Because it’s just like, “Ah.” Now I realize, hey, listen, it’s not up to me. Really, as you begin to lead people, you find out that, “Man, wow. I do have something that they need.” You know what I mean? Because God knows. A promotion comes not from the East or from the West, but it comes down from the Lord.

Jennifer Sakowski:
I don’t think people in general understand what all a chaplain for an NFL team looks like. What are they faced with?

Devon McDonald:
That’s great. That’s great. The chaplains, it’s work. It’s ministry. These guys and ladies, they minister, so to God as the season is starting now. It’s a different dynamic, because normally we have more access. Only one team has given us full access, and that’s the team I was going to be with, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Our guy, Kent and Erica Chevalier, they’re over there. He has full access. He comes in there like he’s a football player or a football coach. That’s level one.

Devon McDonald:
Level two is there is a few days a week. Our guy over in Denver, Reza and Allysa Zadeh, they have some limitation. They can be there some and so forth, but pretty much everybody else is a non-essential. Now they have to work through that. One of the things that they have done is to record themselves or record different speakers, so they can present virtually everything. Basically, though, on a regular week, basically, what would happen is that the guy, he would minister to the football team twice that week. One during the week, as a Bible study and one pre-game.

Devon McDonald:
Pre-game is a big thing. Then, even afterwards, he’ll lead them in prayer. So technically, three times. Then, he would minister to the front office people in the facility, and then he would minister to the coaches. He’d minister to the coaches. Coaches, front office, the players, two to three times, basically. Then, his wife, she would minister to the coaches’ wives and girlfriends and then the player’s wives and girlfriends. Then, husband and wife team chaplains would minister to the couples’ coaches and wives, and to the couples’ players and wives.

Devon McDonald:
That’s a lot for one week, plus there’s a one off. Somebody marriage is not right. “Can I speak to you for a few hours?” Plus, they have children. You know what I mean? Some of these chaplains have young children. You’ve got to deal with all that dynamic. They need that support-

Jennifer Sakowski:
Heavy.

Devon McDonald:
… they need that prayer. It’s that crucial. You know what I’m saying? Again, HALT, hungry, and the H also stand for something else too, protect the innocent, but H-A-L-T, that they’re susceptible. Anybody’s susceptible. If you think you’re not, then you’re really susceptible. You know what I’m saying? It is by God’s grace that we live in that perfection.

Jennifer Sakowski:
Absolutely. Where would we best follow your story? Where would we best find you online? If anyone has the heart to give, to support you in supporting these chaplains and their families, how do they connect with you?

Devon McDonald:
You would ask me that, Jennifer. You know I’m not the most tech savvy person. That’s why I need Raney Day Design.

Jennifer Sakowski:
Great talk.

Devon McDonald:
You make an applause.

Jennifer Sakowski:
We’ve got you.

Devon McDonald:
I submit. I submit. I have my own Facebook, Devon McDonald 5-7 or something to that effect. Jennifer, like I said, you put me on the spot. I’m going to get you back somehow.

Jennifer Sakowski:
That’s all right. That’s all right. That’s all right.

Devon McDonald:
I am on Instagram. Not fully active, but on there just enough. Then Twitter, same thing. Let’s see. As far as giving to us, supporting us, we are always looking for partners, obviously, because again, we’re full-fledged missionaries. We have to bring in everything. Overhead, everything, which I love, because if God puts you there, he knew that ahead of time. He already prepared people to do that. It would be Devon McDonald. Probably, the best thing is to email; devon.mcdonald@athletesinaction.org.

Devon McDonald:
Devon.mcdonald@athletesinaction.org. Email me, and then I could send you out information and things. That would be the best thing. Yeah, information.

Jennifer Sakowski:
Because as a not-for-profit, that is a benefit for any business owner that is looking to give and that needs to give. It’s tax deductible.

Devon McDonald:
Especially as we go into this time of the year, right now into the fall and so forth before the year-

Jennifer Sakowski:
Absolutely.

Devon McDonald:
… it’s a great opportunity. To crystallize things, I would say this. It’s about fulfilling the great commission, and the great commission in Matthew 28 is to go into all the world and make disciples. The NFL athletes or the NFL teams have such a platform, people that love them. People will follow them. A lot of what they say affect a lot of people. You know what I mean? That’s why I’m going over to Africa, going over to India and all the different places, China. That’s great if that’s where God calls you.

Devon McDonald:
I wasn’t looking for this. You know what I’m saying? I think he was looking for me more than I was looking for it. I was like, “I played football, so it’s no big deal to me,” but God put this burden now, and to be able to help to fulfill the great commission in having people know Jesus Christ. Not that they’re going to live a perfect life, but life eternally with him, and even in this life, living through the word of God. There could be victories on top of victories. You know what I’m saying?

Devon McDonald:
You’d be more than a conqueror, an overcome in this life. That’s what I want to see for people. You know what I mean? Because things that we overcome, some things, just seeing my children, go through challenges with them and to see them overcome it and just recognize that it’s God. You know what I’m saying? Be able to say, “Yo, we know this thing happened no other way, but through the grace of God.” To me, it’s like, “Yes,” so that they have a belief, because ultimately that’s the legacy that we leave, our relationship with Jesus or our non-relationship. That’s the only thing that will matter in the end.

Jennifer Sakowski:
Which is awesome, because it’s full circle. You walked it, you’ve used the platform, and you’ve been able to have an impact on so many students and so many lives. I can testify to that, being in the trenches with you for so many years . That you’ve come from that, which is phenomenal, and the obstacles. We didn’t even talk, and I wish we’d have the time to go way back when? From Jamaica and how your story to New York, New Jersey?

Devon McDonald:
New Jersey.

Jennifer Sakowski:
New Jersey, and then to the NFL. That road and just overcoming. You’ve walked it, and then you utilized that platform at SportsWorld, and here you are, full circle giving back to the guys who are helping those that are in that same … I think that’s just phenomenal. When you talk about [crosstalk 00:44:48].

Devon McDonald:
I wonder how many guys in the NFL have heard from a SportsWorld speaker? You know what I mean? That’d be a unique thing to find out.

Jennifer Sakowski:
Hey, you know, somewhere in here, I have my card from SportsWorld stuck someplace in my drawer from hearing it. I commend you. I’m team Devon and Shereasher always. I so thank you for taking the time to tell about your story and what you’re doing with Athletes in Actions.

Devon McDonald:
This is awesome. I applaud you, and I pray that God continue to richly bless you. Prayer I’ve been praying through all this for people is out of book of John. “I wish above all things that you mayest prosper, you and your family, and be in health even as your soul prosper in Jesus’ name, by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Jennifer Sakowski:
Amen.

Devon McDonald:
All right.

Jennifer Sakowski:
Thank you so much, Devon.

Devon McDonald:
All right, thank you Jen.

Jennifer Sakowski:
I want to give a special shout out to Mark Lavender at Mark Lavender Productions. He is the guy that makes all of this podcasting seamless. He’s the one that comes in and fix my lighting and talks to me about microphones. If you are someone who is in need of photography, videography, editing, productions, streaming, anything right now, please contact Mark Lavender Productions at marklavenderproductions.com.