Dear LeBron James: you need a new vocation

LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers in a game against the Washington Wizards at Verizon Center on Nov. 21, 2014, in Washington, D.C. (Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons)

Dear LeBron James,

I know the sports commentators have plenty to say to you. But here's a word from a religion writer.

Today I saw your photo on the front page, and I immediately thought, "It's like Pope Francis, but without the humility."

No, I don't want to lecture you on humility. I do believe in that old fashioned virtue, which has gone out of style in the age of selfies. But then again, I'm writing to you, King James -- as if!

Here's my point. You need a new vocation. You have achieved your life's dream -- and the life's dream of every Cavaliers fan. Now you need a new vocation -- that is, a new vocation within your vocation as an athlete. And, in my hubris, I've got a new purpose for you: Bring people together. Build community. Use your God given talents to promote unity, companionship, team-concern, in short, all the positives of sports.

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Athletics are many things to many people. I am sure you, more than most people, know that a beautiful thing about a victory is that the winning city enjoys a sense of "all of us in this together." I suppose a loss is shared, too, but the high of the positive unity is something that church people also know.

Because I love Pope Francis, I went to Philadelphia this past September to welcome him to the U.S. and enjoy the tremendous sense of purpose and unity that he evokes in Christians and non-Christians around the world. It is a thing to behold, throngs of thousands praying together to connect to God, to channel God's love through themselves and out into the world.

As a religion writer and editor, I don't know much about your world, but I do know that in every age human beings have yearned for transcendence. All of us, atheists and believers and all those in between, we want to find love, experience it, and in sharing it transcend our individual limits of self-focus.

As a world-renowned figure, you have the power to bring people together. The Rust Belt has been belting out its love for you, and how much we enjoy the glow of something truly good happening in Cleveland, where many recall its 1980s insult, "Mistake on the Lake," and where urban decay and city renaissance seem locked in a duel. We love being unified in a victory.

And so, what could you, LeBron James, do to build community and bring people together in a positive way? You will know. I could come up with a list involving charities, needy children, civic development, or any number of worthy causes, but you're a savvy guy, and if you let this question sit in your heart, you will find your answer.

My religion specialty is vocations and Catholic religious communities. I'm not a nun. I'm a married mom of three, but what I've learned during my career with nuns, priests and brothers is that these people ask themselves each day: What is God calling me to? How can I best serve those in greatest need? How can my God given talents be used to build up what is beautiful and good?

Ask those questions and listen carefully. Find yourself a wise spiritual mentor to discuss these questions. Do all this, and you will be on the way to finding your next purpose within your vocation as an athlete.

God bless, and go Cavs!

[Carol Schuck Scheiber lives in Toledo, Ohio and is an award-winning writer and editor. Her primary work is with the National Religious Vocation Conference, nrvc.net, sponsor of VocationMatch.com.]


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