Last Updated on Friday, 25 May 2012 09:22 Posted by Clash Sunday, 27 May 2012 09:03
By Joni B. Hannigan for BPSports
More than 2,000 men gathered at Jacksonville’s First Baptist Church recently to hear football coaching legend Tony Dungy and host of “The NFL Today” James Brown talk about how they hope to finish strong—“Living a Legacy of Eternal Impact.”
Another local sport’s personality Tony Boselli, former NFL Jaguar and broadcast analyst, joined the church’s senior pastor, Mac Brunson; Ken Whitten senior pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz; Daniel Crews, popular vocalist in residence from First Baptist Church in Atlanta; and others for the two-day Impact for Living conference April 20-21.
Dungy, a member of Central Tampa Baptist Church and host of NBC’s “Football Night in America,” asked participants, “What is your platform?”
While it might be tempting to wish for a large platform like those of megachurch pastors like Brunson or Whitten, or to be on television like James Brown—or to have a voice like Daniel Crews—Dungy told the men each has a platform.
“Your platform may not be like theirs, but you certainly have one already,” Dungy said, asking who has family, job or friends. “God has given you one.”
Figuring out your own platform is important, he said, as is asking yourself whom you impact and how you impact them. If you are a Christian, your platform is “huge,” he said.
“It really is—God expects big things,” Dungy said.
Quoting from Acts 1:8, Dungy said Jesus was telling the disciples what would happen once He left the earth. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. You will be my witnesses,” Dungy quoted.
The disciples’ platform can be referenced by a modern day comparison to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth, Dungy said.
Jerusalem for Dungy was his like home. “My father made a tremendous impact on me,” he recalled, describing the older Dungy as an example of James 1. He was slow to get angry and he advised his son to not complain, but instead to solve problems. Dungy said he didn’t know his father was a Tuskeegee Airman until his funeral. “He has a Ph.D in biology, but he seldom talked.”
Dungy said words matter, and told of getting into a debate with a colleague a few years ago who uses profanity. “I agree to disagree on this point,” Dungy said. “When I get mad, I say, ‘You got to be kidding.’”
Dungy recalled an incident when his 11-year-old son was upset about a Hot Wheel car and sputtered, “You’ve GOT to be kidding!”
“I was so pleased. Why did he say that? He thinks that’s what you are supposed to say when you get mad,” Dungy laughed.
Reminiscing about another sweet family moment, Dungy said one of his biggest thrills came after watching his son Eric throw a touchdown pass at the University of Oregon last year. Responding to a newspaper reporter for this school who asked him what was the best thing his dad ever told him about football, Dungy said Eric told the reporter, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul.”
“How well are you doing in Jerusalem, in your home? You have a platform. What will your kids say 40 years from now?” Dungy asked.
Judea is your surrounding area, your neighborhood, Dungy told the men. Naming people in his life who encouraged him when he was raising young children, Dungy said he was too focused on himself earlier in his life, but has since begun teaching a Bible study for couples in his home. “I feel better about what I am doing in Judea right now.”
“What kind of impact are you having where you live?” Dungy asked. “Is it positive or is it negative?”
Samaria could be considered your workplace, Dungy said. “Today most of us men spend more time at work than we do at home”—and often the thought is to just get the job done and don’t make waves.
“Do your job excellently,” Dungy encouraged. “No matter what job you have, you should have an impact.”
He told of an assistant high school principal who had invested in his life and then gave Dungy advice when he quit the high school football team over a dispute with the head coach. Dungy remembered the advice the wise man gave him, “Even if he is wrong and you are right, why would you let someone else stop you from doing something you love?”
“My life would be totally different,” Dungy said, if the assistant principal didn’t take time to invest in the lives of the students around him. Whether it’s comfortable or not, make an impact, he said.
“To the ends of the earth” in a biblical sense or in today’s world means beyond one’s frame of reference, Dungy said. Telling a story about a Bible study he and James Brown began with a bellman in their hotel that now involves 44 men in a teleconference call every Thursday—Dungy told the men “you won’t always know how God” can spread your influence.
A lady from Europe told him in the elevator that the bellman “is the nicest guy in the world,” Dungy recalled. He said, “I can tell you why, because he knows the Lord.”
Likewise, Mike Tomlin, head coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, in 2003 signed a defensive back from Cinncinatti—who is now having an impact in Eugene, Ore., where Dungy’s son Eric plays college football.
“You might be surprised who you can help,” Dungy said. “The point is somewhere along the line, one small conversation may change someone’s life and touch the ends of the earth. Carrie and Rachel at Columbine may not have known what they were going to do may change somebody’s life—but it does.”
Bottom line is “God expects your life to have an impact,” Dungy said. “He put us all here for a reason.”
“Embrace Christ’s command in Acts 1:8,” Dungy said. “Use the platform that He’s given only you and use it for His Kingdom and for His glory.”
DEEP ROOTED SUCCESS
James Brown said the same criteria for success in corporate America will help “in the game of life,” but that without being “deeply rooted” in Christ that same criteria can produce a life that is really “pretty shallow.”
Both corporate and personal success, Brown said, is based on the development of the following fundamentals: good communication, dressing for success, promptness, interpersonal skills, dealing with adversity, having fun, and a thirst and a hunger for knowledge.
In describing how early in his career he responded to someone who intentionally slighted him on the air, Brown said he was able to swiftly provide a comeback drawing on his excellent communication skills.
“Thank God I was a Christian,” Brown said, illustrating how his response was not defensive or biting, but wise. “I chose not to go that route,” he said of a potential response that would have caused friction between him and his colleague.
Liberally sprinkling Scripture verses throughout his talk, Brown told the men that all will experience adversity, but it’s the “philosophy and principles” one holds that will see them through.
“At the end of the day, God is not going to ask how much money you made on the job, your job title—that won’t matter,” Brown said. “Those kinds of things will burn up when we stand before God. All that matters is what you did for the Kingdom—were we obedient to His will.”
First published in the Florida Baptist Witness.