In the NFL about this time of year, dreams die. That is, another team loses and is knocked out of the playoff race. Their dream of making it into the playoffs and hopefully getting to the Super Bowl can vanish in a weekend.
However, does that mean that the dream really died? Not at all. Pretty soon every team will begin to strategize for the next season, the next run. And the dream will live again.
Think about Joseph and his dreams in the book of Genesis:
Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words (Genesis 37:5-8).
Then through a series of incidents he found himself in an Egyptian prison. The years passed. As he sat in the prison cell I can imagine his dream continually surfaced in his mind.
I wonder, did his dream ever die? After a series of providential circumstances Joseph not only got out of prison, he rose to an unprecedented level of authority. Now Joseph was governor over the land. He was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground (Genesis 42:6).
Maybe your dream didn’t die. Maybe its just not the right time. As you get ready to begin a new year, maybe it’s time to dream again.
John Lynch is a former NFL football player. But let’s start at the beginning of his story. Lynch went to Stanford University to play football as a quarterback. However, he never made it onto the field for the first two years.
After his sophomore year the coach suggested that he move to free safety, a position on the defense. But still he rarely played. He got on the field only about thirty percent of the time.
Since he was also gifted at baseball, Lynch decided to go pro and signed a contract with a professional baseball team, the Florida Marlins.
This happened at the same time Stanford got a new football coach, Bill Walsh.
Coach Walsh got wind of his decision to leave and called him into the office. Walsh had just spent hours reviewing the team’s game films and was convinced that Lynch was the best defensive player Stanford had. That day Walsh persuaded Lynch to stick with football.
As they say, “the rest is history.” Lynch went on to play in the NFL and become a star player for many years. Of course, that doesn’t mean his path to stardom was easy.
In his second year in the pros he did not even know if he would make the team.
Once again, a new coach arrived in town and saw his potential.
John Lynch repeatedly discovered the power of others. His rise to fame may never have happened without the influence of others, particularly those 2 coaches.
In the Bible it’s rather amazing that one day Jesus looked at a fisherman named Peter and saw incredible potential. And then He invited Peter to join His team. He became one of the 12 disciples, wrote 1 & 2 Peter, and became one of the pillars of the early church.
Later the apostle Paul met a young man, Timothy, and invited him along to participate in the ministry. Timothy became Paul’s ministry assistant and the pastor of the church at Ephesus.
Sometimes we simply need the right people around us. People who see potential in us and believe in us.
You can’t always control who is in your life, but you can pray that God would send the right people into your life.
So that you too can experience the power of others!
Once again let’s gain some insight from the NFL Playoffs. Let me start by saying that everyone knows that Peyton Manning continually attempts to get the defensive line to jump with his unique style of calling signals.
In the San Diego/Denver game I’m sure that was talked about among the coaches and players. Easy enough. Or perhaps not so easy.
During the game the defensive line jumped into the neutral zone bringing upon themselves a five yard penalty. Not once, but several times.
Why? Lack of discipline.
Actually the game turned out to be decided by just seven points, one touchdown.
In a close game those multiply penalties absolutely kill you.
As I said in the last post just lacking in one of these areas in your personal PDA can kick your butt. Someone said, “If if could kick the person responsible for most of my problems I wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week.”
The defensive line still may not be sitting down!
This is not always as easy as it sounds. Typically there are several things in our day or week that we simply are not fond of doing.
That’s why it takes discipline.
We know what we need to do. San Diego knew they needed to be aware of the hard count and not jump.
Discipline is doing what needs to be done even though you don’t want to do it, so you can eventually do what you want to do.
Had San Diego not jumped off sides, they may be still playing. That’s what they wanted to do.
Discipline, or the lack of discipline kept them from their wants.
Today, identify just one thing that needs your attention and go out and do it.
Carol and I recently were out of town for a meeting so we decided to grab a bite to eat. Following dinner Carol suggested we look for some dessert. Not wanting to disappoint, I pulled up a bakery on the Yelp app.
Three-tenths of a mile away. Perfect. I got the brownie and she got a cream filled puff of some sort.
Since we had just eaten dinner we decided to wait and eat our dessert when we got home. After arriving home rather than eat the whole brownie I opted to eat half and save the other half for the next day.
Actually I wanted the whole thing, but felt like that was overeating.
That’s not the only time I struggle with overdoing. I try to read too many books, watch too many football games, and take on too many projects.
To be honest I have never eaten too many carrots or apples. Desserts, low quality food, is what I struggle with. I do try to read only very good books. I clearly don’t have time to read books of little value.
The same applies to football. As the season kicks off I have to be selective. There is no way I can consume seven or eight football games in just one week. Actually three to four are about all I can watch. That is healthy number for me. Often while watching I like to read a book between plays and during commercials.
Football is like food. I can’t just indiscriminately consume it just because it is available. Diet affects us. Whether it’s food, football, or just plain fun excess is not healthy.
So let me ask you. How’s your diet?
A new era has begun at Penn State. Coach Bill O’Brien has somewhat of a formidable task. Due to the unfortunate incidents over the last several months several of Penn States top players left for other colleges to continue their football careers. When Coach O’Brien arrived the situation was already bad. However, after his arrival things became even worse as players left. With that sad here are some of my thoughts.
You have walked into a mess. The current is against you. There are few favorable winds at your back. But you took the job knowing all that, and because you believe your previous experiences, your character, and your success coaching football have prepared you for this undertaking.
I would add at this point that unless you have ever been broken at some point in your life, this job will become even tougher. You have walked into a broken situation, you will be surrounded by broken people, and you must be able to walk in their shoes.
One of the great stories from the book of Genesis centers around the life of Joseph. Let me encourage you to read that story multiple times and learn from how he led during a great famine. And quite frankly, Penn State football may be entering a time of famine, and it may last for a few years.
Here are six lessons to begin with:
1. Not all leaders can lead during a famine. Egypt went through seven years of famine and Joseph led the way. Part of your job is going to be to lead Penn State through the current crisis.
2. Do not complain. Everyone knows the circumstances. Everyone knows there is a famine in the land. Be proactive and lead.
3. Don’t play the blame game. Yes, people previous to you made some poor decisions. We get all that. Remember, you took the job knowing all that, and you felt like you measured up to the challenge. Deal with it, and do not bring up the earlier administration.
4. Set the example. Avoid spending too much time looking in the rear view mirror or you will wind up in the ditch.
5. Identify some benchmarks or milestones to track your progress along this long journey. As you travel, you will gain hope as you reach these along the way.
6. Cast a compelling vision for a bright future. Stay positive, encourage those around you, and serve your coaching staff and players well.
Yes, the sun has gone down on the University of Penn State. But it will rise again. And you can be the coach who is at the helm when that happens.
One more thing.
Remember that the country is pulling for you. Yes, Penn State has that much influence. And many will be cheering for your success.