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Elite job. Elite family. Still insecure.

I was absolutely crystal clear on one thing. “I’m empty. I’m insecure. I’m a follower, not a leader like my Dad raised me to be.


In seventh grade, I was a wide receiver because the coach’s son was a quarterback. I could throw the ball. I had practiced since I was a little kid with my Dad. But I wasn’t the quarterback, so I played wide receiver. Eighth grade I quit football because I couldn’t be the quarterback. My Dad was Jack Kemp. He was an NFL quarterback and a championship quarterback. Then he ran for Congress. He was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He ran for President and Vice President. And then I became and NFL quarterback. We were the first ever success of NFL Father and son quarterbacks. We were taught when we left the house. “You’re a Kemp. Be a leader.” So, I really had only had one mindset. I need to be something significant. I need to accomplish. I need to perform. I need to be first string. The problem was, even though I could throw a football really well, I wasn’t first string. I was a backup. So by the time High School came and I was the third stringer and not starting. I started to hang with the sports team and some of the party guys. I wanted to be popular with everyone. I wanted girls to like me. It was insecurity driving me. I compromised more and more and more. Probably just like two degrees every year. Two degrees over a long time got me way off track. I ended up not being who I wanted to be. The ironic thing is; I became a starting quarterback. My acne cleared up. I felt more confident with the girls. I had a lot of friends in my fraternity. We had a good football team and I was a good player. I got a contract from the Rams. To go play pro-football. That’s what my life looked like when I finished college and I was as successful as I have ever been. But this weird thing happened. We had like a week of parties between the last class and when graduation came. I was in the thick of it and was partying up a storm with my friends. I’d go to bed inebriated at three or four in the morning. But I was sober in my spirit. I was absolutely crystal clear on one thing. “I’m empty. I’m insecure. I’m a follower, not a leader like my Dad raised me to be. I’m selfish with people. The way I treat girls. The way I treat guys. The way it’s all about me.” A passage that is found in the Bible, showed up in my head in the middle of the night, at three in the morning. Uh, I guess that’s not the middle of the night. It’s the middle of the morning. “All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to “His” purpose.” And I realized my problem was my purpose. It’s at that point, I started talking to God. I said; “God, I need you. I want my purpose to be your purpose. I want my life changed. I don’t want to be empty anymore. I don’t want to be so selfish. I don’t want to be a follower.” So literally that’s the time where I said; “God I trust you. I’m following you. You're in charge. Take over.” Now did I change overnight? Not exactly. But I made a bunch of different decisions. I dramatically changed my drinking. Really, stopped being so selfish with people. Started hanging around the people that were going in the direction of getting to know Jesus and read the Bible and figure out what His path is. And that was a transition point. I realized I’m going out to California. There’s no way that I will make the team without God. How is He going to answer my prayers when I’m such a self-directed, selfish person. That’s really not pleasing God. And if I do make pro-football I will be more of a selfish, egotistical jerk than I am. The ironic thing is, I was egotistical and self-centered but I was really insecure. Even as a success, I was insecure. I always wondered, what do they think of me? What does she think of me? What’s he think of me? We lost this game. Oh, I don’t want to show up at the party. I will be embarrassed. It was really all about satisfying my little boy insecurity. And yet, I said God;” I want to be called according to your purpose. I want to try it your way. So when I moved to California everything changed. I actually ended up the fourth string. They usually keep three quarterbacks but they liked me and thought I had potential. So, they kept me in a secret little stash. I wore my sweater to the games. My sister said; “Jeff, you look great today.” I said; ”I didn’t play.” She said; “ I know, I love that sweater you were wearing.” And my Dad was a stud. He had been a superstar in the NFL. He’d say; “Jeff, you looked great today.” I’d say; “Dad, I didn’t get in the game.” I’d be all frustrated. This was on the phone. He said; “I know, I saw you warming up. You're really throwing well.” In that sense he was phenomenal. But so much of his encouragement was about who I would become and what I would do and about “performance.” Even though he was loving me when I was third string. He was always painting the picture that eventually you will be a starter. And so, there was something I was missing in terms of just his love for me as it was. I was so focused on performance. It wasn’t really his fault. It was the fact that he was famous that I measured myself against him. He never really revealed his inner struggles and his challenges. So I didn’t learn to process that stuff well. That’s where Jesus changing my life. And realizing my Heavenly Father allows me to be completely transparent. Completely honest. My weakness’s he invites me to share them with Him. The love of God doesn’t change with whether we mess up or don’t mess up. Whether we perform or don’t perform. I love my parents but I grew up thinking they were perfect. We all look-back and say wow, we are weird. Uh, we’re all weird.

Jeff K - Elite job. Elite family. Still insecure.

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