Friday, June 20, 2008

The Joy of the Lord

I recently picked up a copy of Tony Dungy’s memoir, Quiet Strength. Dungy is the head coach of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts who were winners of the Super Bowl in 2007. It’s a great read whether you’re into football or not. It’s mostly about life, character, values, leadership and especially how Dungy’s life is impacted by Jesus Christ.

When Dungy was playing for the Pittsburg Steeler’s, one day he was doing his summer workouts at Three Rivers Stadium. In those days the Steeler’s football team shared the stadium with the Pittsburg Pirates baseball team. When Dungy finished the workout the Pirates’ players were showing up and getting ready for an evening game. The Pirates’ locker room was noisy and boisterous. Guys were playing loud music, cooking chicken on the grill, playing cards, watching TV and generally enjoying being with each other.

This was in stark contrast to the Steeler’s locker room during football season. The Steelers were all business. Their locker room was always quiet, focused, and intense.

The contrast was bothersome to Dungy. In the hallway Dungy ran into Pirates all-star Willie Stargell. After they chatted for a moment Dungy asked Stargell about the Pirates’ locker room atmosphere being so noisy on a game day.

Stargell laughed and said to Dungy, “In a little while we’ll take the field and then the umpire will shout, ‘Play ball!’. He won’t say ‘Work ball!’ It’s a game Dungy.”

That comment has continued to impact Dungy to this day and has influenced how he approaches his coaching.

The minute I read that anecdote I sensed God speaking into my own heart. I’m an intense guy. I take life and service to God very seriously. The mission of Christ to save and redeem those who are headed toward eternity lost from God is life and breath to me. Yet in that moment of reading I sensed God saying to me, “Scott, ‘The joy of the Lord is your strength’ (Nehemiah 8:10). With all of your seriousness, don’t forget to enjoy Me.”

In that moment I decided that I was failing to enjoy God and that I had better seriously enjoy Him. Whoa. I was about to miss what God inviting me to experience with Him.

“Today is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)

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