Recently ESPN wrote a story called “Higher Calling” on Tony Dungy. You might know about the fact that Tony played in the NFL for a few seasons with the Steelers, 49ers, and Giants. And you might know that Tony was the first African-American to win the Super Bowl (he did so with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007). But I bet you didn’t know that he is an outspoken Christian and that his life is characterized by a willingness to reach out to others in need–or did you?
I’ve been sitting at my computer for the last 15 minutes trying to figure out what to write about because there is so much to take away from this article. Here are a few thoughts:
The way in which Tony Dungy handles himself gets noticed and earns the respect of others. Tony Dungy is on “Football Night in America” with the likes of Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann, and Bob Costas. This is what Bob Costas had to say about Tony:
“In truth, I’m pleasantly surprised. I thought he’d be pretty good, but I’m surprised he’s this good. He’s not grabbing you by the lapels and shaking you. He makes some declarative and bold statements, but never grandstands when doing it. He never makes things harshly personal. He can criticize without drawing blood, and that is actually what makes him effective over time. You can only slash and burn so many times before people say that’s his shtick. He has no shtick.
Tony Dungy is nothing but humble, and he cares about the welfare of the people he helps. When asked about his ‘moral clout’ Tony never claims to be perfect, “The words and the deeds never match up totally. You have to know that. I think people can look at my motives and say that they’re pure. That’s why I resonate with guys. I’m not in it for something. I might be wrong in the way I do something, but they know I’m not in it to betray someone’s situation.”
Tony Dungy is solidly rooted in the reality that God is not here to meet his purposes. Rather, he is on this earth for God’s purposes. Tony Dungy speaks on the opportunities he can capitalize on by being where he is, “At the time, Indianapolis had its highest homicide rate and lowest graduation rate. I asked myself, ‘how else can I use this platform?’ There are other things I can do. I had been coaching 28 years. There was more for Lord had for me to do.”
In closing, Tony Dungy is using his celebrity status as a means of making the Gospel attractive. Even though he doesn’t get out a Bible every time he talks with a non-christian, his lifestyle is attractive enough to where people start asking “What is different about this guy?” (this is obvious in the article) His life is one example of thousands in the world that shows that God will take His Gospel to the ends of the earth – including the high profile celebrity athletes. God has given Tony a desire to seek out troubled athletes like Michael Vick, LeGarrette Blount, and most likely many more that we don’t hear about.
We might not be chosen to make the Gospel attractive on a national scene, but we have been chosen to make the Gospel attractive somewhere. 1Thessalonians 2:4 says “…we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, so we speak not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” My question to you (and to myself) is where is God putting you to make the Gospel more attractive? How often are you in the Word to gain wisdom and to be refreshed by God’s grace? Who has God placed in your life that hasn’t heard the Gospel? Reflecting on these questions and learning from Biblical qualities seen in men like Tony Dungy will make a big change in your life, and further the Gospel that has been entrusted to us.