Jeremy Lin Opens Up to 20,000 Taiwanese on Turmoil Under 'Linsanity' Hype

Aug 19, 2013 10:16 AM EDT

Houston Rockets guard Jeremy Lin shared his testimony at the ''Dream Big, Be Yourself'' youth conference event in Taipei, Taiwan. Over 20,000 people attended the event, where Lin spoke on what God has taught him in the past year about his identity.

Asian-American NBA player Jeremy Lin went from being cut by both the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets to becoming a phenomenal player for the New York Knicks when Coach Mike D’Antoni took him off the bench to play in a game against the Boston Celtics. The following night, Lin scored 25 points against the New Jersey Nets. “That game changed my life forever,” said Lin, referring to the Knicks’ seven-game winning-streak and Lin’s record breaking statistics – the “Linsanity” – that followed afterward. Lin ended the season with the Knicks on a high note, and signed a $25 million contract with the Houston Rockets for the following year.

With his sudden rise to NBA stardom, Lin was expected to be the Houston Rocket’s cornerstone player - “I was ready to invigorate the entire city of Houston … I was supposed to save Houston basketball,” he said. What happened next was not exactly what Lin had hoped for - he didn’t play well at the start of the season and took a back seat to a newly-signed teammate, James Harden.

Lin became very frustrated and anxious about losing his starting spot on the Rockets - “I became so obsessed with becoming a great basketball player … trying to be Linsanity, being this phenomenon that took the NBA by storm,” he said. “The coaches were losing faith in me, basketball fans were making fun of me,” said Lin, who was called “overrated” and “overpaid” by the media.

Lin soon realized that all of his success and fame had not fulfilled him the way that many think it would – “I was supposed to be joyful and free, but what I experienced was the opposite – I had no joy, and I felt no freedom,” he said. After much reflection, Lin realized that he had allowed himself to be consumed by his job, and that he was trying to base his self-worth on his performance. He decided to re-prioritize his life, and tried to stop listening to all of the negative comments from onlookers. He also stopped dwelling on his own disappointment, he said. “I had to get back to listening to God’s voice,” said the NBA star - “I had to get back to being who God made me to be.” Lin had remembered that his identity is founded upon being one of God’s beloved children, purchased by Christ; “Linsanity,” he said, was an identity that had been created by the world.

Lin challenged the audience to reflect on their own identity; he asked them to consider what makes them the happiest, or the most proud of themselves. Alternatively, he asked them what makes them the saddest, or what makes them feel unimportant. Lin noted that money, success, and human approval are some of the biggest idols in today’s society, and that those who strive for these things will never have the joy or importance that they are looking for. “The one thing I learned was how empty fame and worldly success really are … the desire for success never stopped,” said Lin of his struggle. Lin also found that seeking approval and acceptance from others by trying to live up to their expectations did not satisfy him, either. “If the voice that you listen to the most isn’t God’s voice, then eventually you will experience that emptiness, confusion, and misery that I felt when I listened to the voice of ‘Linsanity,’” he said.

Lin then invited those who are unsure of their identity to receive Jesus Christ and become beloved children of God. He cited Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23 - “Because God is holy, because God is perfect, because heaven is sinless, we can’t have a relationship with God or experience heaven without acknowledging our need for forgiveness of our sins,” Lin said. “Jesus Christ loves me and loves you so much that He left His throne in heaven to come to this sinful earth Himself, to be whipped, ridiculed, spit on, and crucified on the cross in order to bear the punishment and the death that we deserved … the Good News, though, is that if we ask God for the forgiveness for our sins … we will have salvation, a relationship with our Creator, eternal life in heaven” said Lin. The NBA guard invited those who want to accept God, the Loving Father, in to their hearts to pray with him. “Your life will never be the same,” he said.

Lin is no longer enslaved to a desire for approval from others, or by trying to live up to the “Linsanity” hype. “We are God’s beloved children, and there is nothing you can do to reduce God’s love for you,” he said, reminding those in Christ to put their identity in Him - “When you do, you’ll be free,” said Lin. He encouraged those in Christ to build their spiritual foundation by reading the Bible, by spending time in prayer, and by joining a small group with other believers.

Note: Jeremy Lin's speech begins at 1:06:22.