Strange Road to Success

Written by Joe Gibbs

faith_jgibbs All my life, I wanted to be a head football coach of an NFL team more than anything else.

At times, I even wanted it more than God or my family. I bought right into the world’s game plan. In my eyes, being a head coach would give me all the things I wanted, things like money and prestige. My goal became an obsession.

God gave me my first wake-up call in 1972 when I met a small, unassuming Sunday School teacher named George Tharel while I was coaching at the University of Arkansas. He was a man at peace with himself and God. Being driven was one of my strengths, but I envied people like George who could relax and enjoy life. By looking at George’s life, I started to see that there was another game plan besides the world’s. God’s plan was not based on money, position or winning football games. God was only concerned with me having a right relationship with Him. And even though I had become a Christian when I was nine-years-old, I had never made God a priority. George helped me to see this.

One night in church I went forward and confessed in my heart that though I knew God, I had not been living for Him. After re-dedicating my life to God that night, it became evident that I was different. Some of the changes were immediate; others have been a process.

One major process God took me through was being able to trust Him with my career. In 1978, my first year as the offensive coordinator for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I just knew I was one step away from being a head coach. That was until we finished the season 4 and 12 — the first unsuccessful program I’d ever been a part of. After that season, I was offered a job with the San Diego Chargers. The only problem was that the job was not as the offensive coordinator. I would have to be a backfield coach-go backwards in my career-and work under another assistant coach. My pride got in the way, and it really bothered me. I took the job, but I had no peace about it.

So I decided to go see George back in Arkansas. I got on a plane, but a snowstorm prevented me from making it to see him. I started asking God Why? Why are you doing this to me? Back at the airport, I came across a Bible. I picked it up and turned to the first chapter of James. Out of nowhere, a guy about my age tapped me on the shoulder and said, ‘I claimed the verses in that chapter about six months ago.’ Without me saying a word, this guy rattled off a story that paralleled mine almost exactly. He had the job that he’d always wanted, lost it and tried everything he could do to get it back. Then God, in His timing, gave it back to him. This was no coincidence! God brought this guy into my life to show me what I needed to do. So I turned my situation over to God. Within two weeks the offensive coordinator left, opening up the position for me. Two years later, I became the head coach of the Washington Redskins.

When I quit listening to the world’s myths about success and happiness and left the job of promoting me to a head coaching job in God’s hands, He did it. And even though I’ve always felt that my family was important, it wasn’t until God helped me get my priorities straight in other areas that I realized my wife and family needed to come before my career.

Like anyone else, I wanted to be happy and successful, and that was the path I had been on my whole life. I took the long road but discovered that what I was looking for was not something to be pursued. Success and happiness were by-products of a life given over to God. It seems I had to learn that lesson more than once, and in many ways I’m still learning it.

Living with hope

If you are looking for peace, there is a way to balance your life. No one can be perfect, or have a perfect life. But every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace through a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.

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