What do you want most for your children or grandchildren? If you could pick just one thing, what would it be? Would you choose for them to be healthy? Or happy? Would you choose academic success or a good job or for them to have a stable family of their own?
Former boxing world champion Nigel Benn was asked that question recently on national radio. He was being interviewed on the Colin Murray Show along with his son Conor, who at 19 is already a highly-rated boxing prospect. Benn snr was asked what his dream was for his son when he closes his eyes at night.
His answer was something that few would have expected. The former double world champion replied ‘to be honest with you, my dream for him first of all is to get to know Jesus’. Yes, as Benn went on to say, he’d love it if Conor went on to outdo him and win three world titles. But above all his dream is for his son ‘to know Jesus more than anything else’.
What’s all the more remarkable is that this is coming from a man who at one point in his life famously described himself as ‘Satan’s right hand man’. His older brother had died in unexplained circumstances when Benn was eight, and from then on he lived an anger-filled life. He drank, took drugs, suffered from depression and attempted suicide one night in his car. He was ‘addict[ed] to drink, sex and smoking weed’.
But interestingly, Benn wants more for his son than for him to live on the straight and narrow. He wants more for Conor than sporting success and a stable personal life. Because he realises that none of those things can bring contentment. And that a hundred years from now, the only thing that will matter is whether Conor knew Jesus or not.
Benn had all the world could offer. But it didn’t offer true joy. He realised that he had a broken relationship with his Creator that only Jesus could restore. Now, he’s a changed man. He explains: ‘I'm not chasing nothing any more. My Porsche has gone, my Cadillac's gone, I've got rid of everything, but what I have is contentment’.
Benn has found the one thing in life that ultimately matters, and he wants his son to experience it too. Will we settle for less for those we love most in the world?
Published in Stranraer & Wigtownshire Free Press, 8th September 2016