Recently, while on vacation, I read Quiet Strength by Tony Dungy. In football circles, Tony Dungy is known as a man who was a great NFL coach and the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl. However, if you ask Coach Dungy, he’d tell you that he’d rather be remembered as a committed Christian, a dedicated husband and father, and a man who helped others to grow closer to the Lord Jesus.
I won’t summarize the entire book, but here are three lessons that I took away from it.
Lesson #1: No excuses. No explanations.
Coach Tony Dungy always challenged his players to take complete responsibility for their decisions both on and off the field. He wanted them to be great men, not just great players. So often we make excuses for our bad decisions. We explain away our behavior so as to justify it to ourselves and others. Coach Dungy encourages us to live the words of Jesus, “The truth will set you free.” Only when we stop blaming others and take responsibility for every aspect of our lives can we really be happy and free.
Lesson #2: The Lord always leads us; we simply need to follow in faith.
One of the main themes in the book is how God continually led–and continues to lead–Tony Dungy in his life. He never received any visible signs or heard any heavenly voices, but he always prayed about his decisions and God always led him to the right place. Even when he was fired as coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he tried to see how God was leading him. This is an important lesson for us. It’s only human to question why certain things happen to us–a layoff, a sickness–but we must remember that God always leads us, especially during our dark and painful moments.
Lesson #3: Our personal suffering teaches us to be more compassionate and to reach out to others.
Tony Dungy and his wife Lauren endured the most painful thing that parents can experience: their son committed suicide. They’ll never know the reason why their son took his own life. Their grief was, and still is, deep. But what’s amazing is that Coach Dungy has used this tragedy to reach out to others who are suffering. He consoles parents who have experienced the same tragedy; he reaches out to young people who are struggling with life; he challenges both the young and old to always have hope. The pain of loss will always be in his heart, but he is using that pain to enrich the lives of others. Shouldn’t we do the same?
So, you don’t need to be a football fan to read Quiet Strength. Tony Dungy is an inspiring man, and Quiet Strength is an inspiring book.