Friday, March 12, 2010

Wrapping up Quiet Strength

This Wednesday my men's group finished up our eight-week look at Tony Dungy's book, Quiet Strength (Here's a photo of a few of the 15 guys who participated in the study). We enjoyed a strong commitment level, with a constant undercurrent of "If a high profile, Superbowl-winning, NFL coach can talk about this stuff, then it must be OK...."

We closed by having dinner together. We started out with a devotion, ate mass quantities of high-calorie, cholesterol-heavy foods, then talked about some of the key ideas we had learned during the two months.

Once we sifted through all the classic football-esque "It was third-down and our backs were against the wall" anecdotes, the detailed "inside scoop" on the complex lucrative industry that's supported by sixteen 60-minute games a year, and the constant name-dropping of professional sports icons, the thrust of the study was simple: The most important thing in life is not what we achieve, but who we follow.

Dungy is crystal-clear regarding his priorities as a man. So we talked about how we can implement such a perspective when our own, less famous, lives are defined by distractions such as:
  • office politics
  • dysfunctional school environments
  • angry spouses
  • political angst
  • broken relationships
  • rebellious children
  • financial pressures
  • chronic health issues
  • crises of faith etc. etc....
The answer is simple, really. Jesus laid out the basic principle during his "Sermon on the Mount", Matthew 5-7. ""Seek first God's Kingdom," he said; "and everything else will fall into place."

Christ wasn't talking about problems being magically solved; but he was reminding his listeners that there is a necessary order in terms of prioritization - where the world not only begins to make sense, but the world also tends to work more effectively; because seeking, first, God's Kingdom is fundamental to the way we were all created. It's engaging our core purpose; it's redemption from the ground up.

Jesus said the following, during his long conversation with his friends at The Last Supper: "I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face trouble/hardship/difficulty/persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!” - John 16: 33

Dungy's Quiet Strength comes from understanding that Jesus has conquered the world, and it's the kind of victory we can participate in, every day. When we live in the confidence of that realization, then nothing at all has the power to defeat us.

!!!! - DEREK

(picture from a blustery English hillside, last week)

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