A few months ago I finished reading Tony Dungy’s book Quiet Strength. At the time I read the book we were going through a very difficult time with our special needs child, who had just had a very painful surgery and had to be in the hospital for a week. It was encouraging to me to read about a successful man like Tony Dungy, who had struggled himself a lot as a player and a coach, even getting fired from his first job as a head coach.
What struck me about the book was how a man who is obviously committed to his family and his faith was able to stick to his core principles and still be successful – as a coach, a husband, and a father. I also respected that Coach Dungy did not elaborate on the death of his oldest son, but that he was able to keep that part of his family’ life private. The book focuses on his early career as a Big Ten quarterback at the University of Minnesota, and his three year career and switch to a defensive player in the NFL. Following his playing days Dungy went on to be a position coach, and an assistant coach with teams that included the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Minnesota Vikings. Coach Dungy landed his first head coach job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Coach Dungy described he program he built in Tampa Bay for five years and changing the culture of losing to a winning playoff caliber team. His team went to the playoffs three out of the five years he was at Tampa Bay. Ironically, the year after Dungy was fired, the man who replaced him – Coach Jon Gruden – took the team Coach Dungy had built to the Super Bowl and won. This was a very humiliating experience for Coach Dungy, who clearly felt that God had led him to Tampa Bay. However, it did not take long for Coach Dungy to land on his feet and coach again. Jim Irsay, Owner of the Indianapolis Colts made it clear that he wanted to hire Coach Dungy when he left him a message on his answering machine. Dungy had not even interviewed for the job yet, and the Colts wanted to hire this man.
What kind of reputation does a man have to have for someone to want to hire you without even getting interviewed first? Someone with a reputation like Tony Dungy. Coach Dungy has gone on to be one of the most successful coaches in NFL history. He has also made a huge impact on families through his association through programs like All Pro Dad, which help to support and strengthen father’s relationship with their family. Dungy probably never knew when he was fired what God had in store for his life, and how it would all make sense.
How many times have we faced similar adversity in our lives – getting fired or laid off, having a chronically ill spouse or child, or having to face a divorce – and life just did not make sense. What could God possibly be thinking? How much testing and humiliation does a person have to endure? Sometimes it helps me to go back and look at some of the great leaders of our country like Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln failed in several careers, and lost multiple elections at the local, state, and national level before he was ultimately successful and was elected as President of the United States.
A more recent example is media mogul, Rupert Murdoch went through several bankruptcies before he went on to become one of the most successful businessmen in history. Mr. Murdoch now owns the Fox Network, Fox News, and the Wall Street Journal. What does God have planned for you and me? It doesn’t have to involve money or fame before we can claim success. It could be something as simple as being a caring husband. Or, maybe you’re just a dad who spends regular time with his kids, shaping and molding their lives for good. What could be a better definition of success that that?