Chad Johnson is the Steelers team pastor, and he embraces that role with great zeal and expectancy.
On the sideline, the Steelers have players, coaches, assistant coaches, assistants to the assistant coaches, trainers, medical staff, and a pastor.
That pastor is Chad Johnson, and he’s been with the Steelers for the last four years. But this isn’t his first time with an NFL team. Johnson spent nine years with the Arizona Cardinals before coming to Pittsburgh.
Some pastors treat their job like a “9-5” kind of thing, but not Johnson. He’s taken calls from players at all hours of the night, Johnson receives it all with great zeal and expectancy.
“The trenches, for me, is more so in the personal discipleship or mentorship, most of my time is spent with players.” Johnson said.
Chad Johnson doesn’t represent the “coffee and donuts” kind of Jesus, Johnson is in this for real. He’s prayed over every kind of injury that an NFL player could endure. Johnson also leads a “coaches only” Bible study on Fridays, chapel on Saturday nights, couples ministry for players and coaches, and pre-game prayers. The couples ministry displays the right way to do church; without it being in a church. Each week a different player will host their teammates and their spouses at his home. Each couple will bring a food item to share. Johnson will then offer guidance on how to maximize the married experience.
We all know Mike Tomlin is a man of consistency and conviction, so it’s no surprise that Tomlin personally recruited Johnson to the Steel City.
Johnson talks about his relationship with Tomlin. “Coach Tomlin has fully integrated me, made me basically a part of the coaching staff, allows me to be fully accessible for the guys at all times, He [Coach Tomlin] is an avid supporter. He believes in it. He’s really the reason why I’m there. I do think that’s a big part of his values. He looks for well-rounded men in all aspects of life.”
The 2015 season was rough on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Everything from injuries to suspensions, Johnson was there.
“A lot of praying, a lot of talking, a lot of reasoning with the guys,” Johnson said.
Chad Johnson is in no way “star struck” by anyone on the Steelers roster, or coaching staff. He’s upfront, honest, and transparent. Johnson shares his heart a little more on how he approaches the men that are under his care.
“I don’t treat them like they are stars, but people, as an athlete, you get served all the time. It’s easy to develop a serve-me mindset, even if they aren’t selfish guys, because they are used to that either day. So when guys serve others, I light up.”
Johnson makes a point to remind the players that being in the NFL is a rare, and great opportunity. But he also reminds them of the pitfalls that could come with being an NFL superstar. With this, Johnson will connect scripture to tie it all together. A Bible verse that professional athletes often identify with is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Johnson thinks there are about 30-35 players and coaches (in the Steelers’ locker room) that are practicing Christians. Within team context, all 32 franchises are required to offer an expression of faith and worship. If a player or coach doesn’t share the same belief as Johnson, the Steelers “respect whatever belief system anybody has.” and offer other outlets and resources to that person.
Chad Johnson embraces and goes after all of this, all the while not being on the Steelers’ payroll. He never punches out. He never separates his and his life. His work is his life, and he does it well.
(Source: Jeremy Fowler of ESPN)