Two-time Super Bowl-winning NFL coach Tony Dungy shares five ways for believers to share their faith and represent Jesus, even in places some would think are antagonistic to the gospel.
1. Remember Colossians 3:23.
That’s the verse that anchored me. “Whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord.” Whether playing, coaching, being in my neighborhood or on my job, whatever I do, I’m serving the Lord. I keep that first. Yes, I have employers and players I serve. But I’m serving the Lord first. If I keep that in mind, no opposition can harm me, and I know I’m going to be okay.
2. Don’t forget about grace.
Do what Jesus modeled – balance truth and grace. The Bible tells us to speak the truth in love, but we also have to have the grace to see people where they are and the ability not to be easily offended if they don’t always agree with what we have to say. In those tough cases, we should remember the grace God had on us and give that to others.
3. Always be ready to demonstrate.
When you demonstrate, it makes your points very clearly. Once I demonstrated to my players I was in their corner, they listened to what I had to say – not just about football, but life, the Lord and everything else. Sure, we had our team goals. When we were in Tampa, we wanted to make a Super Bowl and win it. But we also wanted to make Tampa a better place to live. But you had to show them that you were real first. And when you did that, they’d listen to you about other things.
4. Keep respect as a staple of all interactions.
You have to understand that, yes, I’m a Christian, but everybody doesn’t have my views. I want people to respect me for my beliefs, but it’s going to have to be mutual, and I’m going to have to demonstrate that grace as well as tell people what is true. If you do it that way, you let people know it can be done. You can have and share your beliefs and still demonstrate God’s love even in the midst of disagreement.
5. Be ready to be the example.
There’s so much hatred and vitriol out there in all of our public discourse. But as believers, we can’t afford to do that. In fact, the world is watching us, and Jesus says we have to be different. As more hostility sets in, it’s going to cause Christians to make a decision. Are we going to serve the Lord and show people the Christlike example of how to handle disagreements, or are we going to give in to the hostility? We can’t do that if we’re going to be Christ’s example.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tony Dungy is a former professional football player and coach in the NFL. He is now a football analyst and speaker. Reprinted with permission from On Mission magazine, North American Mission Board.)