On Nov. 18, 1973, a Denver Post sports photographer captured an image that seemed to represent the mantra of its main subject—a young man who—at the time—was an unexpectant minister-in-the-making.
This particular photograph, now digitally archived and preserved in sports memorabilia, clearly shows the gregarious Denver Broncos’ Guard Larron D. Jackson (at the time, playing as a tackle). However, the deeper story featured in this black-and-white print is even more unmistakable: Jackson had just broken through the formidable Pittsburgh Steelers' defense. Behind him was Floyd Little carrying the ball in what would result in another tally mark in the “win” column that season.
That photograph—among others—has served as a common metaphor for Jackson’s nearly 42-year ministerial career. As a street-smart pastor with a huge heart and a boisterous laugh, Jackson has opened up more lanes for others to discover a relationship with Jesus Christ—and to experience victory in their lives.
But now, after numerous pastoral roles in his life, and more recently, as the Ministry and Missions Coach for the Denver Cluster (for the past eight years), Jackson has called an audible. He is scheduled to retire from his regional work at the end of September. But don’t expect to see Rev. Dr. Larron D. Jackson, DMin., sitting on the sidelines. He’s still fully invested in God’s gridiron to help win over hearts and to further God’s Kingdom.
In fact, Jackson, who turns 71-years-old in August, has a renewed sense of optimism, health and spiritual focus.
“I’m in good health, and I still have a lot of things to do,” Jackson declared. “I feel like the good Lord is now calling me to that fourth quarter of life. And, a lot can happen in the fourth quarter!”
As a young man who grew up on the tough and violent streets of St. Louis, Jackson has an acute appreciation for how God’s Grace and the Gospel message can transform the “grittiness” of urban life. After all, he has witnessed firsthand the “legalized discrimination and racism” that still percolates throughout society.
Those experiences have always motivated him to advocate for others.
As a professional football player, Jackson lobbied on the behalf of the players being exploited by the National Football League in the early seventies. Then, as God called him into ministry, and blessed his enrollment at Candler School of Theology, Jackson pursued his passion to serve in some of the “roughest neighborhoods” in order “to plant, build, and to grow community.”
“I’ve always had a fire in me,” Jackson said. “And that fire still is there. God has given me a spirit to work for transformation—to speak truth, and to put together a plan to overcome obstacles and to lead others to victory.”
Larron Jackson's autobiography about a violent childhood, an enlightening professional football career, and his call to ministry and servanthood.
Larron Jackson signs in homeless individuals at First Baptist Church, Denver.
To that extent, much of his personal life, and his passion for servanthood, has been well-documented in his autobiography, The Ghetto, The Gridiron and The Gospel: A Journey in God’s Grace. His reflections on life seem even more poignant given the turbulent events of 2020—from the COVID-19 pandemic to the national protests for social justice and equality. The synchronism of these current events with his retirement have only further affirmed his desire to return to his previous work in curriculum development and support for the African American church and community.
Past victories for what’s ahead
“I see hope in the midst of despair,” Jackson said. “God is always shaping you for where he is taking you—and I’ve seen
lately how new technology and ways of reaching others allows us to speak into their lives in a more holistic manner.”
As with any good game plan, the strategy for “what’s ahead” is still “in the works.” And, so much more could be written about Jackson’s past accomplishments.
But perhaps a short analogy is the best predictor for Jackson’s future—another metaphor that’s borrowed from a different type of ball game.
At twelve years of age, Jackson said he became “aware” of the segregation and poverty in his neighborhood. Instead of viewing the situation as a limitation, he saw it as an opportunity to “do more with less.” He rallied the other neighborhood boys on the block and together, they gathered some rubber balls and mop sticks to play stickball.
“We started going around and challenging other boys on other blocks to play ball with us. Things went so well—it got sophisticated quickly! We expanded to other neighborhoods and parks, even some that were located in more predominately white areas.”
Eventually, this stickball endeavor turned into the boys’ own Little League program.
“God is never done with us—or we should never feel that way,” Jackson recently said with one of his immeasurable smiles. “We need to let God lead us and to transform us—and with a little organization and effort, the opportunities are endless. That’s what I’m looking forward to as a way to honor Him with the rest of my life.”
Plus, never forget that Jackson knows how to overcome obstacles.
As a former offensive lineman who “knew how to move people against their will,” Jackson is now content with letting God clear those lanes—and to open those paths—so that Jackson himself can deliver the Good News to whomever—and wherever—God might send him next.
Rev. Dr. Larron D. Jackson, DMin, has served in various ministerial roles throughout the country; has guided the outreach ministries of three major faith institutions; has taught at several major colleges and seminaries; has an extensive background in curriculum development for church and community; has worked in international ministry; is a published author; a former NFL football player for the Denver Broncos and the Atlanta Falcons, and a member of The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. As he pursues the next stages of his life, he may be reached at Ljackministries@aol.com.