The Covenant Eyes Podcast

From Olympic Ice to Life's Vice: Anthony Watson on Overcoming Addiction with Faith and Empowering Gen Z through the Church

December 20, 2023 Covenant Eyes, Turning Point Faith Season 2 Episode 69
The Covenant Eyes Podcast
From Olympic Ice to Life's Vice: Anthony Watson on Overcoming Addiction with Faith and Empowering Gen Z through the Church
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

When former Olympian Anthony Watson stepped into our studio, the energy was palpable. His journey from the warmth of Jamaica to the icy tracks of skeleton racing is more than just a story of athletic prowess; it's a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit. Today's conversation took unexpected turns, delving into the very real and pressing issues of how pornography affects our youth and the hard-earned victories over addiction through a life anchored in Christ. Anthony's candidness offers a beacon of hope for those wrestling with similar challenges.

Our dialogue took a reflective shift as we explored the current influence of Gen Z on the church. The give and take between maintaining core scriptural values and adapting to the digital age is a dance that both the church and individuals are learning. I shared my own path to discovering my identity within the embrace of faith, the pitfalls of insincere living, and how the church can act as a compass for young people searching for authenticity in a sea of online facades. The episode is rich with the wisdom of those who have walked through fire and emerged with a message of enduring truth and discipline.

In the episode's closing moments, we touched upon the transformative ability of adversity to shape our lives and how it can deepen our relationship with God. Comparing my experiences to biblical figures like Paul, we acknowledged the universal struggles that we all face and the profound ways in which collective worship can unite and uplift communities. Wrapping up, I invite listeners to consider the lasting impact of purpose-driven living and my continued commitment to mentoring youth, ensuring that the next generation is empowered to overcome life's obstacles through faith. Join us for this inspiring journey that reaffirms the timelessness of spiritual resilience.

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Covenant Eyes:

Hey, covenant Dies, we're excited to be here for a podcast today with a new friend of ours, Karen Anthony Watson. Anthony, it's great to have you on. Thank you so much, guys, for having me on. So, anthony, we met you at a pastor's summit a little bit ago and we just had a great time visiting with you. We brought so much energy and we're like you know what this podcast needs Some energy so we're expecting you to bring the energy today.

Anthony Watson:

Oh, my goodness, you caught me on a good day because I didn't have coffee but I had a lot of water, so I've never drank Well it was distilled water right. I've never drank coffee, so whenever I have water I'm like, oh, it's like up here on fire and on short circuits and everyone's like you drink caffeine. I'm like, no, I don't even know what that stuff is. So don't worry, you're going to get a lot of energy out of me. For real.

Covenant Eyes:

Awesome, that's awesome. So, anthony, you are a former Olympian. You competed in the 2018 Olympics for Jamaica. Mon yeah, that was probably really bad. I just think of the Bob Sledding movie Cool Runnings. But you didn't do that. You did the skeleton Well, I did do Bob Sledding for a little while.

Anthony Watson:

Then I switched back to skeleton. So yes, I was a Bob Sledder for the Jamaican Bob Sled team and I tell everyone it's like, what made you switch to skeleton? I was like, well, you remember in the movie how the Bob Sled team, they were inexperienced and at the Olympics they crashed and they tipped over in the track. And everyone's like yeah. I was like, yeah, current team is still like that. That's why I left.

Covenant Eyes:

But, dude, we were watching videos of skeleton. That's dangerous man, you're head down, yeah.

Anthony Watson:

I was like, if anything, it teaches you a lot about life. People tell you to jump in feet first, like the losers do, but I was like if you hit any kind of turbulence you fly off course. You know skeleton, we go head first. That way we attack our issues head on and it's the safest out of the three sliding sports because we're only four inches off the ice. So falling from here to there hurts like a mother in labor sometimes, but I was like the impact isn't as bad as it is if the Bob Sled were. 600 or 800 pounds of carbon fiber and steel are pinning your neck to the ice, giving you a nice little kiss of death. You know what I'm saying oh my gosh.

Karen POtter:

I watched the video and I thought, well, my chiropractor would not be pleased with this. It looked dangerous, but we're glad you're here, anthony.

Anthony Watson:

Thank you very much, and you know, I'm ready to get this thing going, I'm ready to be excited, I'm excited, absolutely Well, hey we met you at a pastures conference out in California and you held a panel discussion with younger generation.

Karen POtter:

We'd love to talk a little bit about that if we could, because we're, at Covenant Eye, super interested in helping the younger generation because obviously they're exposed to pornography, they're dealing with pornography and it's shaping their world view. So you know, what kind of feedback do you have for the younger generation when it comes to this pornified culture and how to address it?

Anthony Watson:

The only advice that I would have, or any kind of counsel or any kind of words to say to anybody that is growing up in this day and age, is that things that are easily accessible don't always make them good. Back in the day, pornography used to be something that was publicly shamed and it was illegal before it became so publicly acceptable to be accepting of the sex workers lifestyle. But when you look at it from a Christian perspective, what does God say about the sexually immoral? He says the people that participate in sexual immorality, adultery, orgies. Those people will not inherit the kingdom of God, and it's a trapping thing to do, because all of those things apply to the senses that get somebody addicted to the experience of that, but without the intimacy and connection that actually makes it long lasting, which is why you have a lot of people that when they meet people, it leads them to being too aggressive or very insecure, or somebody that becomes broken because of a system that literally was not meant to sustain anything outside of what God created it for. Now, god created sex and he made it enjoyable, and the thing that I honestly find puzzling is people that have regular sex and practice sex, you know, outside of marriage or in relationships with people that they're not engaged to or married to or outside of family structure, are always surprised when they get pregnant. And I tell people, when you have sex regularly, you're only guaranteed two things either a disease or a baby. So it puzzles me why people are always surprised by this and then they want to play the victim at the end. It's just like, look, just because it's accessible and you can have it at your disposal at any kind of moment essentially doesn't mean that it's a good thing, because the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but the road to eternity is paved with heartfelt intentions towards the things that are holy. Now, god does not call you to live a perfect life, because we can't do it, but he does call you to live a holy life that you can do. Jesus Christ came, lived the life that we all couldn't live and died the debt that we all should have and that we deserved. That's what makes him the bridge and that's why he says no man comes to the Father except through him. So for people that are stuck in these kind of addictions that seem repetitive, seem that they can't get out of it, there is victory in the name of Jesus Christ, because when he died he took that addiction of pornography. He took that addiction in spirit of lust upon himself for those people that are stuck specifically in that kind of problem.

Karen POtter:

Wow.

Covenant Eyes:

Yeah, I think there's a deeper level here. When we were at the conference, the summit, you were part of a panel discussion with a bunch of Gen Zers and you were talking about the church, or rather the lack of a church attendance and belief in faith of these Gen Zers. Can you share some of those stats with our listeners, because they really were striking and I think it points to a deeper issue of relationship with Jesus leading the way.

Anthony Watson:

Well, what I will say. This is that most people won't understand statistics if I say 60% of Gen Z doesn't like faith, or 22% of this. It's just like to me. I hate it when people say those kinds of things because I don't even know what they mean. What I do know is that this is not the first time that the church has been plagued with trying to get the younger generation in. What I will say is that Lily Kate, on the panel, said that it is up to the older generation to teach the younger generation how to worship, how to pray, how to be active in them. Gen Z is doing a good job of manipulating the church into what they think it should do, to make them comfortable with what they want to do, and they're becoming more Christian activists than they are Christians. You have a lot of people that want to advocate. When the Christian tells you that you shouldn't live this way, do all of that. And then they want to say you're condemning me and you're not loving me the way a Christian brother should. But then if a non-save secular person were to say that a Christian is being a hypocrite, then that's when people take it seriously. What we're starting to see right now is a pivot to where the church is now shifting to culture, when the church has always been a staple to shift culture. That's the difference. When people from the outside come to church, they're trying something different because clearly what they're working on out here isn't working and it's not up to the church to try and figure out new programs and new ways to mesmerize and draw people in. The Holy Spirit does that and Jesus was clear when he says when you lift me up in John, then I will draw all people to myself. Now churches these days are lifting up. Oh well, let's try this new worship song or let's add more light. So that is smoke machine and all this other stuff trying to create the ambiance. The early church didn't have that and the Holy Spirit and the God that I know says that in those days he filled all of those believers with boldness. You have a lot of people now that, through social media and all these other things, social pressures and tendencies, very few actually lead with that tendency and more trying to appeal to the younger generation and, at the end of the day, what I know to be true is that there's nothing glamorous about being a Christian. There's nothing that you're going to want to sell these Gen Zers on that's going to teach them how to learn how to enjoy conflict, hard times and everything else. You have to give people the truth and you have to take the example of Christ and what he did in his ministry to everybody of all ages, and he gave people the choice and he let them be the ones to make the decision for themselves. Now, jesus and his mercy is somebody that is available at any point in time, and the reason that he said his mercy is available to you today is because we haven't lived in tomorrow, we haven't lived five minutes from now, and the same mercy that's going to be available to you all after you're done listening to this podcast is the same mercy that's going to be available to you throughout your entire timeline of life that Christ hold in his hands until he calls you to stand before him in judgment. The time that we need to do right now is to make it clear to the young people the results of living certain ways, because we know that there are more sexually things active and accessible to them. We know that there are more drugs and more alcohol and things that are more accessible to them. It is not trying to now dumb it down, to be like now. We shouldn't do that. It's just like look, you need to understand that if this is what you choose, this is the consequence. Every single action has a consequence that is automatically bound to it and you can't avoid the consequence if you deal in these kinds of things. And I think to get Gen Z's attention is to show them that the world isn't hopeless, but to also instill in them the beauty and the value of personal interaction. People nowadays don't know how to hold a conversation unless you've left and they're texting you, or unless they're talking to you on the Internet. I think it's the church's job to teach kids how to read their Bible, how to actually flip through and know where to find passages and everything else. Because relying on a phone if the phone dies, does that mean your faith goes with it? You need to be somebody that our brothers and sisters in other countries that literally memorize passages upon passages of Scripture because of what's at risk and when you look at the body of Christ and what it's doing over there, opposed to what's here. It's not about how do we convince Gen Z. You can't convince Gen Z to do anything. What your responsibility is to Gen Z is to give them the truth and to live out the truth, so that when they look at your life, the Bible says they'll know you by your fruit. If you're preaching this, you have to live it so that when people look at your life, they see the result and see the outcome of everything that you're doing, so that then it's a conversation of how they, in their lives, can invite Christ into their situation, learn how to have victory in the name of Jesus, have conquer and defeat over sin and learn how to walk in the eternal glory that's waiting for them in the afterlife if they choose Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Karen POtter:

Whoa preach it Fire man.

Anthony Watson:

It's awesome Fire, oh my gosh.

Karen POtter:

You know it's Anthony what drives you. You have so much passion and so much wisdom. How did you get to this place where you are just on fire like this?

Anthony Watson:

I was somebody that believed so many lies on myself that that was the only thing that came out of my mouth. I was somebody that was so embarrassed of who I was, the things that I liked where I grew up, my family settings, that I lied about everything and I lost myself. But the Bible says that, being that kind of ways being double-minded and Paul says the double-minded man is somebody who looks at himself in a mirror and then, as soon as he turns around, forgets what he looked like I had no idea who I was, and it wasn't until my father took me to address some of these issues and the pastor that he took me to was a family friend of ours that I trusted. But he was somebody that he was just like. We're going to address this issue, but over the next couple of weeks I want us to lift that hood and I want us to kind of dig in so that we can kind of get here. And, man, I tell you that when I had to come face to face with who I had become, it was very I want to say I don't want to say like Jane it was very scary to see where I had drifted off course and that's the guys of the enemy. Because if he were to show you in a flash where you're going to end up by doing this one thing, maybe five years from now there'd be a lot more people on the straight and narrow. But God gives you the freedom because he wants you to voluntarily love him, because when you voluntarily love him, that's when it's real. If he forces his love, then he's not letting you love him. He's doing it out of force and God doesn't do that. The Holy Spirit, jesus Christ himself, God the Father, is a gentleman and he invites you into a place of intimacy where, when he speaks to you, it's something that is designated only for you, that now he wants you to use, equip yourself with, to give to somebody else who might need to hear that. So in my life, when I literally was transformed by the opinions of people, by my own insecurities, I did not like who I became when all of it was said and done, and so having that moment where I looked at my heart and I saw how vile and evil it was, is a picture I give. It is like holding garbage and walking through your life, picking up things along the way, and when you see God, you try to turn your back when you see other people. You don't want to give them what you're carrying because it's going to mess them up, or they're not. You're afraid that they're going to judge you and not care about you for what you're carrying and that's the whole nature of sin is that it silences you and it isolates you until the point where the enemy literally wants to try to tell you that it's time for you to kill yourself. You're not hopeless. You're hopeless and you're not worth anything. And so he does that to everybody. That's why he's called the accuser. He brings up everything that you've done. But the one thing that I can say was that when I went through that whole process of transformation, I literally felt the presence of God in such a way that made me want to drop everything I had picked up, drop everything I was carrying, and never touch it again, because I felt free. And now I want young people everywhere to go and walk in that freedom, even if it means I've got to go at my own expense, I've got to go, being called a bunch of slurs and everything else. But you look at Paul, you look at everybody else, and it says when they got rejected, stoned and chased out of town. It says they shook the dust off their feet and they kept moving, and so I feel like people need to know and understand. Unless God is telling you to plant and be grounded somewhere to try and do something, god is always at work where you're around, but if he's not working there, don't feel like you failed or anything else, because you have given people the truth, because Paul also says in Romans that at the end of time, through God's creation, his word, his disciples, nobody will be able to stand in front of God without excuse. God is everywhere and people are going to be puzzled and confused and heartbroken and sad when they see where God was and every chance that he tried to save them and they ignored him. My goal, whenever I walk into a room of people is I visualize all of us being in worship together, with our hands raised, and that's the passion that drives me to go and see if I can at least speak to somebody to get them to start lowering that wall that sin allows them to build up and security allows them to engulf themselves in, to let God be the one to minister through them only the way that he can, which is through somebody that's obedient, willing and submissive.

Covenant Eyes:

It's got to be just amazing sometimes for you to sit back and just reflect on the glory of God in your life and what he's done. And I think really what you're saying is a part of all of our journeys. We all face adversity on our Christian journey. I mean, before you were an Olympian doing skeleton, you were excelling in track and then you faced adversity. There Can you just talk a little bit about your own adversity, how God led you into a whole different sport, but then how that adversity plays out in the Christian journey.

Anthony Watson:

Well, the whole thing with adversity is that it comes to everybody, and I think the issue that a lot of people tend to fall in and the trap that they can fall in sometimes is thinking that they're the only ones going through it. And that's the part that I said before is that when you start thinking that way, that's when you start getting isolated and that's when it becomes dangerous, because at that point that's when you start believing lies and then acting in those things as a form of self-indulgence or some sort of self-therapy, when really all you're doing is hurting yourself. And a lot of people do these things, thinking that I'm just gonna do whatever I want and think that by living spitefully or sinfully that they're hurting God. So when reallyzn' you know God gets the glory either way, you either get elevated in His grace or you get crushed in His judgment, because God is just but he's also gracious and you know both coincide together. When he moves, the unjust get crushed and the graceful saints get lifted out of harm's way. But God gets the glory either way, because he says His job is to eradicate sin, but he saves His children. So it's open for everybody. So for me, going through that section of my life. I had built everything up because I didn't do well in school. I was somebody that struggled a lot. I had dyslexia, I had a lot of things that my parents had to get me tested for. So I always fell out of pocket and I was always made fun of and abused and made fun of to the point where I wanted to commit suicide. So I let other people determine who I was, based off of my intellect. But when it came time to do sports, that's where I felt free, that's where I felt like I could be myself, because I excelled at something and I was proud to do those kinds of things. And so when I lost my opportunity to compete in track and field for a second, I felt like I lost myself. Then I got into music professionally, but then I couldn't handle the criticism of people thinking that my songs were about made up experiences rather than the experiences that I had actually gone through, or they just didn't like the music style, and so I was just like you know what? I'm going to go back to sports, because I was like at least there, the critics make you better if you're not doing well, and it's a place to grow, and so through adversity. It teaches you two things, because there's only two things in life that test the will and determination of an individual and it's the passing of time. And when trials come, a lot of time passes for people and everybody goes through stuff. And so it tests this person there and it starts to sift out who is serious about what they say by living it and who's been all talk. It's the whole story of the man who built his house on the sand and the man who built his house on the rock, the storm it didn't say that. You know. The guy who built his house on a rock didn't say the storm didn't come. You know, it was the result of where the person's faith aligned. And so the people who had their hopes built in sand, they got swept away in everything, because that's not a foundation. The people who had their stuff built on the rock didn't say that they were immune from the storm. It said that they survived. And with Christ we go through storms and he gave us the blueprint, giving us a heads up, saying that this is going to happen. And so by us doing that, he says don't worry about it, because I've already been there with you. And people think that guy doesn't understand. You know, because I used to think guy doesn't understand, he doesn't care about me, he doesn't love me, I'm by myself. And it wasn't until I was reading my Bible when I read about the crucifixion, where it said God the Father turned his head and I was like, wow, if anybody knows what it's like to be alone, it's God. It's Jesus Christ himself. Where his friends denied him, his whole community turned against him, the people that he came to save. Where he says he came to his own first. They killed him and put him on a cross and his own father at the end of that turned his back on him and crushed him as the just for God he is. And he did all of that because he loved me. And it's that kind of love that compels me, that changed me to be who I am today, because for so many years I had lost myself. But when I felt the unequivocal presence of Jesus Christ in the love that you can't explain, you can't describe, you can only experience and receive, it is that love that I get to experience every single day and every moment that I get to spend with him, every time I get to pray for somebody, every single time I get encouraged in the Word or by what I hear, or what I experience, or the time I get to spend just thanking him for who he is. I'm reminded of what I couldn't do but he could, the things that I deserve, that he kept from me, and the things that he has for me that are unique strictly to me, that aren't for anybody else. But the end goal is the same and all of us want glory in the end, and if that doesn't get anybody excited, man, I was like you're on crack.

Karen POtter:

So a lot of people listening to this are probably loving this motivational, encouraging message that you're delivering here. So how can people connect with you? Are you traveling? Are you speaking at churches? How can they get more of what you are bringing here?

Anthony Watson:

Well, I would love to speak at more churches. If anyone has a church that you need me at, I am here at Turning Point, usa, and so, like I go around from college campuses to high school campuses, I spend a lot of time with young people and I talk to them, and I think the thing that I started doing differently was when I first started this. All I did was talk about myself, my accomplishments, my accolades, my struggles, my this, my that, and after, like the third event, I was just like I am so boring. I was like I'm like I'm probably going to be like every other speaker that comes up on stage and says the exact same thing, and pretty soon it's not going to be long before people are speaking back, word for word, everything that they've heard me say 10 different places. But what I realized is that when God gives you the platform, it's not for you to glorify yourself, it's for you to point people back to Him. That's why God elevates people here to a certain level, so that when people ask you about your success, they ask you about your hardships. It's always a chance for you to at least bring God into the picture and not God, because there are a lot of gods, the living God, jesus Christ, into the picture to give people the option to at least hear the truth. Because if you're not going there for the greater good of somebody's soul at the end of the day, then why are you doing anything that you're doing? Because you don't need to be paid $50,000, $50 million to try and motivate somebody. You can get motivation and inspiration from a sunset. You can get encouragement from somebody just holding the door for you and it restores a little piece of hope that people are still kind and gentle and caring. And I learned from one of my favorite speakers, eric Metaxas. He says there's no such thing as Christian music as there are Christian apples. God declared everything that is good, every little thing that is good, no matter who it comes from, as something that he is alive and active in doing something, by putting little pieces of himself in actions, interactions, words, conversations and everything else. And if anybody needs an encouragement who doesn't really feel like God is hearing them right now, who doesn't really feel like they have a purpose or they've kind of lost track or they feel like they've fallen too far from grace. I need you to understand this. If you don't know anything, I want you guys to read in your Bibles John, chapter 17. It was the prayer that Jesus offered at the Last Supper, and he had a three-part prayer. The first part and the first eight verses are him praying that God would be glorified, his father, through his death. The second one, he prayed for his disciples, that they would be encouraged, filled with the Holy Spirit and one with him, like he and his father were one. And the third part and the last 10, 15 verses is the part that always makes me cry every single time I read through that. It says Jesus prays for all believers. He prays that the people who hear the word from his disciples, that are encouraged by the Holy Spirit, will be one in the Father, like he and the father are one, and that they would know how much their loved and cared for. And so, for the beginning of time, before you were even a cell in your mother's womb, jesus in human flesh was praying for you. And it even says right now that he intercedes at the right hand of the Father for you. He's praying for you because he has a plan, and prayer isn't a ceremonial ritual. It's a conversation between people that want to know what is on God's heart and by spending time with him, to open your heart, to give him your concerns, to find out where he's working, to hear his heart, to know his thoughts, to see where he's at work, isn't for you to have any kind of special privileges. It's for you to continue doing his work, because that's what we're creative for His creation. We're his tools, we're his hands and feet in the world where more people need to be taking a stand for the things that are righteous and indignant for the kingdom of God in the world that we want to live in. Afterwards, hardships and everything come to everybody. Disappointment comes to everybody, but discouragement, that is a choice. If you give into discouragement and to choose to be discouraged all the time, then you are giving into that. That's why the Bible says don't be anxious. It's not a suggestion. It all says don't be as a command. But he says when you do, he says present everything that you have, every concern, every question, every outpour, every frustration, that kind of thing. He says present those requests with thanksgiving in your heart to God. And then when you do that, he says the peace of God. So when you're frustrated and you say God, I'm frustrated about that, it says his peace floods your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus. And that is his stamp of approval. He signs it with his name because his name was written in his blood that he shed. And it says also in the Bible God is not like a man that he should lie. He is not also like a man that he should change his mind. So when he says things like that, you know that you can bank on it and you can take that and cash that in any day of the week whenever you need it, and it is available to anybody who will do the one thing that he tells you to do. That they don't do enough, he says, if you ask him for it. So if you're doing all of that stuff and you need it, all you have to do is ask. But in our own frustrations and our own human reasoning we're just like. It can't be that simple. There's got to be strings attached to it. And that's where we start doing what we're not supposed to do. Lean on your own understandings. He tells you not to. He says in all of your ways, acknowledge him and he'll tell you where to go.

Covenant Eyes:

Then so good. I mean, I really hope our listeners are very encouraged, as they're, especially if they're feeling stuck or struggling wherever they're at in the journey. Karen, I just I hope that they're encouraged and they're hearing this and they're seeing how the spirit is really speaking through Anthony right now to reach them wherever they're at. And, anthony, I just want to thank you for joining us and sharing these encouraging words, sharing a little bit about your story today, because there's somebody out there listening right now who needs to hear what you had to say. Well, I appreciate it.

Anthony Watson:

I hope they um I wasn't speaking too fast. Everyone says I got a Ben Shapiro motor mouth.

Karen POtter:

It's okay. It's okay, it was wonderful, anthony. I just want to direct people like where can they go to learn more about you, connect with you?

Anthony Watson:

You can all follow me on my Instagram that is a Watson, a WATSON Jam, so a Watson Jam is my Instagram and my Twitter is a Watson OLY. Y'all can follow me there. I'm very responsive. If people reach out to me, dm me, comment. I always respond because I never like to make anyone feel that I'm too big to talk to anybody. I believe that social media is a tool, but I also believe and I'm so used to being in the grassroots and actually doing the work on the ground that like to sit back and just like, kind of like take it easy. I kind of feel lazy some days. So if there's anybody that needs anything done anywhere, y'all hit me up. I will happily come anywhere. I will not say no to any invitation if it's within you.

Karen POtter:

Well, there you go. So church leaders out there. If you want to get your youth group and like, revitalized and energized, you got to reach out to Anthony. Oh my gosh.

Covenant Eyes:

Yeah, absolutely so. Thanks again, anthony. We really appreciate your time and, to all of our listeners, thank you for tuning in for another episode. Make sure you share this one, because maybe you know somebody who needs this encouragement as well. Like our podcast, share it, give us a great review and let's continue to get the word out about the amazing people who we visit with every week, like Anthony. So until next time, we'll see you later. Covenant eyes. God bless.

Youth, Pornography, and Church Attendance
Gen Z's Influence on the Church
Finding God in Adversity
Purpose and Overcoming With Faith