Reinforcing Your Calling

New to the 2013 schedule, each team in the NFL plays a nationally televised Thursday night game. The preparation between the prior Sunday’s game and the Thursday match-up is intense with one or more near all-nighters, but the weekend following the game becomes a mini-Bye with an enjoyable couple days off.

This past spring, we were informed that Mike was chosen to receive the Tom Landry Award from the Dallas/Ft. Worth Area Fellowship of Christian Athletes for excellence of character. As a young athlete, his first football love was the Dallas Cowboys, being fiercely loyal to them and their head coach, Tom Landry. It was an honor and thrill for him to be chosen, and the only challenge was to find a date in the fall when Mike would be able to be present in Dallas. The mini-bye weekend provided the perfect opportunity.

The two of us headed down to Texas for a whirlwind two days, the timing of which was contingent upon flights and connections going off without a hitch. Fortunately, the Vikings won that Thursday night game, bringing our record to 2-7 at the time. Winning the game before a long weekend was so much more enjoyable than losing, and we both remarked that we had almost forgotten how nice it felt to win!

The W-L record that defines each team in sports can seem so harsh and unforgiving. There are no asterisks, no moral victories, no ‘played hard but came up short in the end’; a simple W or L summarizes the week’s work. For the 2013 Vikings, the ticks in the L column continue to mount, and as a coach, Mike found his thoughts wandering often to ‘what am I doing?’, referring to far more than game plans and strategies when proverbially asking the question.

Some may know that Mike was asked to coach upon his retirement from the Bears as a player, but he had no intention of doing so, primarily because of the hours away from his family. We had young children when he hung up his cleats, and he wanted to be present and available for their growth and development. He vowed not to coach at all, but 8 or 9 years away from the game, he felt the Lord leading him to reconsider his stance on coaching. In fact, through some rather incredible circumstances, God made it very clear that back in football was precisely where He wanted us.

Eleven years later, in the middle of a difficult season ~ well, let’s be truthful and raw here … the fourth difficult season in a row for us ~ we were starting to wonder why He ever brought us back to this game. The 2013 NFL is worlds away from the NFL of the 80’s and 90’s that Mike played in. And what Mike had in mind when he stepped back onto the gridiron as a coach was to attempt to be a positive influence in the lives of the young men he would coach, even if his impact might only be a fraction of the positive influence his coaches were for him. But as the losses mounted, and the difficult seasons started to outweigh the enjoyable ones, he secretly wondered if God might not have a better way to make an impact.

Upon arriving in Dallas, he was met by his former head coach at Baylor, Grant Teaff. Coach Teaff singlehandedly changed the course of Mike’s life at the time, and Mike has a world of respect and love for the man.

Coach Teaff and Coach Singletary

 

He flew in from his own 80th birthday celebration in Virginia for the evening, simply to introduce Mike and thank him for his positive contribution to the world of coaching. Mike humbly accepted the award, whose past recipients include men and women of great character such as Tom Landry, Grant Teaff, Roger Staubach, Dr. James and Shirley Dobson, and Rev. Billy Graham, among others. What an honor to be recognized among such influential leaders. Receiving that award reaffirmed our committment to finish the race set before us. We aren’t supposed to do what we do for the recognition it brings, but it was certainly a boost to our morale.

It occurred to us as we boarded the last flight to Minneapolis out of Dallas that Sunday evening, the best kind of exhausted, that every previous award recipient surely faced a time when they wondered if they were making a difference. And they most certainly wondered why God would call them. But yet they pressed on, remaining loyal to their calling, going on to become men and women of tremendous world-changing influence.
Because of Coach Teaff, and all of the other award honorees, Mike was reminded of the power of a calling. And he has been called to coach. He’s a called, committed coach. Look out, NFL!
Galatians 6:9: ‘And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap what we have sown, if we faint not.’

 

 

 

 

 
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Comments

  1. Philip Dorr says:

    Kim…..This is really special. Thank you for sharing.

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