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Game Plan for LifeChalk Talks
By Joe Gibbs
ZondervanCopyright © 2012 Joe Gibbs
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTIME LINE OF JOE GIBBS
November 25, 1940 Born in Mocksville, North Carolina
1955 Relocated to southern California with family
1959 Graduated Santa Fe High School, Santa Fe, California
1959 - 1963 Attended Cerritos Junior College and San Diego State University (SDSU)
1964 - 1966 Graduated from SDSU and earned a master's degree in 1966
Started coaching career under Don Coryell as a graduate assistant
January 29, 1966 Married Pat
1967 - 1968 Offensive line coach for Florida state University
1969 - 1970 Coached under John McKay at Southern California (USC)
February 21, 1969 First son, J.D. Gibbs, was born
1971 - 1972 Coached under Frank Broyles at University of Arkansas
December 9, 1972 Second son, Coy Gibbs, was born
1973 - 1977 Rejoined Coryell as running backs coach for St. Louis Cardinals
1978 Offensive coordinator under John McKay for Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1979 - 1980 Rejoined Coryell once again as offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers
1981 Named head coach of Washington Redskins
January 1983 Redskins win super Bowl XVII
January 1988 Redskins win super Bowl XXII
1991 Announced the formation of Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR)
1992 Redskins win Super Bowl XXVI
1993 JGR wins first-ever NASCAR race with the 1993 running of the Daytona 500
March l993 Gibbs retires as head coach of the Washington Redskins after twelve seasons
October 1997 Son, J.D. Gibbs, named president of JGR
2000 JGR wins its first NASCAR Cup championship, with driver Bobby LaBonte
2002 JGR wins its second NASCAR Cup championship, with driver Tony Stewart
January 2004 Gibbs returns as head coach of the Washington Redskins
2005 JGR wins its third NASCAR Cup championship, with driver Tony Stewart
January 2008 JGR Motocross (JGRMX) founded by son, Coy Gibbs, runs first race
January 2008 Gibbs resigns as head coach of Washington Redskins
2008 JGR wins NASCAR Nationwide series owner's Championship
August 2009 Game Plan for Life, Coach Gibbs' third book, becomes NY Times bestseller
2009 JGR wins NASCAR Nationwide Series Driver's and Owner's Championship
2010 JGR wins NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship
FROM THE COACH
What does it mean to win? How do you define success? My entire adult life has involved competition in two professional sports with over 100 million fans between them. As the head coach of the Washington Redskins, we won three Super Bowls and four NFC championships. As the owner of Joe Gibbs Racing, we've won three NASCAR Cup championships and over 175 races so far. Along the way I've learned a lot about what it takes to win. But, you know what? I also know something about losing.
Standing on the sideline in front of 91,000 fans at FedEx Field in Washington when a decision I made may have contributed to the Redskins' defeat is tough. Watching one of our cars dominate a 500-mile race only to get taken out by equipment failure is hard to take. In my personal life I haven't always been the perfect husband and dad. To be truthful with you, many of the most important lessons I've learned in my life have come from personal failures and professional losses.
Along the way I've learned the value of setting aside time to connect with the Lord by reading the Bible, praying, and doing a short devotional; this time is one of the most important resources I have to live successfully. My quiet time with the Lord gives me perspective and the strength to get up and move into the day with the assurance that my Heavenly Father cares for me and is interested in helping me find true success—as He defines it.
When it comes right down to it, I'm just your "average Joe" looking for practical solutions to the challenges life throws at me. I believe God gives us the guidance we need in His Word. Maybe you're like me, and if that's the case, my hope is that as you read these devotionals, you'll be encouraged to "trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding" so that He can "make your paths straight" (Proverbs 3:5-6).
WINNING THE GAME OF LIFE
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3
From the time I was a young kid in middle school my hope was to one day become a professional football player—I loved competing against other teams and taking on challenges with my teammates. Later, at San Diego State, it became clear to me that although I was a decent football player, I just didn't have the skill it would take to become a great professional player. I set my sights on coaching instead, starting as a graduate assistant at SDSU under Aztec head coach Don Coryell. Pat and I have never looked back—coaching is one of the things I was created to do.
One thing I love about coaching is that there is no mystery at the end of a game. The scoreboard says it all—when that clock runs out and your sixty minutes are up, the only thing that matters is the final score. Someone wins; someone loses. I was fortunate to win a few Super Bowls as the head coach of the Washington Redskins and to end my football career with a winning record. Along the way I learned a lot from those wins, but I learned a lot from the losses as well. I believe that God used my experience in the NFL to impact the way I look at life.
As a coach, I view life as a game. You and I are the players. When our life on earth is over, there's going to be a scoreboard. Matthew 16:27 puts it like this, "For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done." If you're like me, you want to be on the winning team when the clock stops. The game of life is the most important game you'll ever play, and whether you win or lose there will be eternal consequences.
How do we make sure we're on the winning team? Well, if we are in a game, we have to have a coach. I believe our head coach in the game of life is God. Does a good coach just put his team on the field and say, "Go get 'em, guys ... Do your best ... I hope you win"? Nope. He wants the best for his players and crafts a specific game plan for them to succeed. I believe that God has given us the perfect game plan, which we can find in His playbook, the Bible.
In my experience, every time I veer away from God's game plan I run into trouble, even disaster. On the other hand, when I'm careful to trust Him and follow His playbook, I find success—maybe not in terms of wins and losses, but in the sense of being at peace knowing that the outcome is in the hands of God who loves me deeply and always wants the best for me. In Romans 8:28 we read, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."
I've been coaching and leading a long time now and have seen many people promoting countless game plans. Some promise to make you rich. Others promise to help you "maximize your potential" or whatever. I can honestly tell you that in my view there is only one game plan I want to execute. It comes to me from a God who loves me so much that He gave His only Son to pay for my sins. His game plan has a perfect playbook, the Bible, which includes everything I need to be successful in life.
How about you? Are you following a game plan for your life? If it's not God's, how is it working for you? Are you ready to follow the one game plan that promises you'll wind up on the winning team when the clock stops?
Dear Father, thank You for giving us a game plan to live our lives by. We all want to be on the winning team when our lives on this earth are over. We want eternal life in heaven with You. Help me to be disciplined to seek You daily. Help me to turn to Your Word for the plays I need to execute to be successful. Amen.
THE PERFECT COACH
Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. Psalm 139:4
As each NFL season comes to a close, a ritual takes place on the first Monday after the last regular-season game. The sports media call it "Black Monday," when general managers and team owners take stock of how well their team did that year—what went right and what went wrong. Then they look at their head coach, evaluating whether or not he is capable of helping the team perform at a high level next year. A lot of coaching changes take place on Black Monday. The sports media love to cover the firing and hiring—the "coaching carousel" as they sometimes call it. Being an NFL head coach is not for the faint of heart nor for those seeking job security.
Yet although being a head coach is tough, there is no question he is arguably the most influential factor on any team. He sets the direction, and the coaching staff supports his decisions. The players, from the future Hall of Fame veteran to the greenest rookie, look to him for leadership. They need to have confidence in his skills as a leader and coach. They also need to know that he cares about them and that his job is to help them become the best player they can be. No matter how great the player may be, he will not win a game on his own skills alone. He will win the game by playing on a team with talent that is coached and organized for success.
In the game of life, God—our head coach—is the single most important factor in winning. As the great Christian writer A. W. Tozer noted, "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us." Asking Christ to be my Lord and Savior, submitting to God as my head coach, is the most important decision I've ever made, and it has impacted every area of my life—from how I treat my wife and sons to how I spend my money to how I interact with the people with whom I work. Whether you spend your life trying to collect wealth and fame for yourself or loving others and storing up treasures in heaven depends almost entirely upon how you view God.
And yet so many have not made that connection. Frequently someone will say to me, "Joe, if I had proof that God really did exist, I would believe." To answer this I share four commonsense observations I've made. First, I've witnessed profound changes in other people's lives that are just short of miraculous. I've seen guys completely turn their lives around. Second, I believe the complexity of the universe and creation speaks to the existence of God. Third, the Bible itself is amazing; though people have tried to debunk it throughout history, centuries later it is more relevant than ever with a clear, consistent message and more historical evidence authenticating it every year. Last, I talk about the changes that came about in my own life, some of which are documented on other pages in this devotional.
Have you made God your Head Coach yet? When you think of Him, what comes into your mind? Do you realize that He loves you and cares about the struggles you are facing today and that He wants to be in a relationship with you ... to be the Head Coach in your life? From the very first pages of the Bible, we learn that we are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). The rest of the Bible is about His unyielding efforts to be in relationship with fallen mankind. He knows our very thoughts (Psalm 139:4). Why wouldn't we want Him to lead us?
Heavenly Father, thank You for being the Coach of my life, always wanting what is best for me. Please help me to know You more intimately. Help me learn to turn to You with all of my struggles, disappointments, and failures. Help me also to learn to talk to You through my prayers and praise You in the best of times. Amen.
WHAT ARE YOUR IDOLS?
You shall not bow down to them or worship them. Exodus 20:5
As the 2010 Sprint Cup season was coming to a close, I could hardly sleep. The championship would be decided in one last race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Leading the pack was our driver, Denny Hamlin, winner of eight races—more than any other driver that season. Yet he was only fifteen points ahead, and within striking range was Jimmie Johnson, a four-time NASCAR champion. It was turning out to be one of the closest chases for the Cup in history. Competition like this was great for television ratings and sports writers, but it was a lot of pressure on our team, knowing what was at stake.
If you're unfamiliar with NASCAR, the Sprint Cup is the top division. Starting with the Daytona 500 in February, we race thirty-six races. All along the way, drivers and teams rack up points awarded for wins, laps led, and a number of other factors. Whoever has the most points at the end of the season is the champion—the best in the sport.
In the nights before the final race, I lay in bed consumed with how much I wanted to win. I'd think about our employees at Joe Gibbs Racing and how much another championship would mean to them. Then there was FedEx, such a great sponsor—having Denny in victory lane would mean so much to that company and its thousands of employees. Our manufacturer, Toyota, would win its first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Then there were the title winnings that go to the victor ... these added financial resources could help in so many areas of our race team. I don't know about you, but my mind can just go on and on like this, especially at night when it is quiet.
But during this time, the Lord had another message for me. No matter how busy I get, I try to spend time studying my Bible and praying daily. Exodus 20:5 was the particular verse in the daily devotional I was reading at that time. This verse is the second of the Ten Commandments: we are to have no idols. Idols are anything we put before the Lord, anything we adore other than God. Often idols are things that we think we can't live without. I had to ask myself, "What if we lose this race? Can I live with that?" It was important for us to do everything within our power to win, but I had to leave the outcome to the Lord.
In my video devotional that week on our Game Plan for Life website, I asked people to pray for us. I wanted to make sure that we had the right attitude—no matter how the race turned out. I wanted to make sure that we trusted that our loving God would allow whatever outcome was best for us ... even if it was different than what we hoped it to be.
You know what? I'm glad we had folks pray that prayer! We ended up losing the race and the 2010 championship; we finished second. Denny was devastated. Every competitive bone in my body was disappointed. It was tough on our entire organization, our sponsors, and our families. We had come so close. Talk about an emotional letdown!
But the truth is that as hard as that was for us, I knew in my heart—even in the painful moment of that defeat—that my God always gives me the things that are best for me. This is the same God who gave His only Son to die on a cross for my sins. His plan for us is so much better than one we could ever make for ourselves. My experience working through other disappointing results over the years had given me the knowledge that I could trust Him, no matter how bleak the situation appeared.
What are your idols? For me, I can idolize winning. I'm a competitive guy and I don't like to lose. For you it may be something else. Is it the things you own? Is it your social position? Perhaps winning the next golf game? What about money? Or your kid's athletics? The bottom line here is that you and I are not to let anything get between God and us.
Lord, thank You for the clarity of Your Word. Over and over You show us clearly what we need to do and what we need to avoid. Help me be aware of any idols in my life. Help me to renounce them and stay focused on the one true God who made me, loves me, and knows what's best for me. Amen.
THE PERFECT PLAYBOOK
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. Psalm 119:105
Have you ever played that party game that starts with a phrase whispered from person to person until the last individual repeats out loud what he was told? Most of the time it's unrecognizable from the original statement and everyone has a good laugh. It is amazing how easy it is for us to miscommunicate with each other.
Early in my NFL career I had the distinct displeasure of experiencing a similar failure to communicate. At the time I was the offensive coordinator for John McKay at Tampa Bay. John had always called the plays for his offense, but when I joined his coaching staff he was willing to turn play calling over to me. This was before we had electronic communications between the sideline and the quarterback, so we devised a system of hand signals to relay the plays.
Our play-calling system got off to a good start but the season didn't; we lost our first two games. Coach McKay pulled me aside in practice one day. "Joe, I'm not comfortable with these hand signals," he said. "I want you to tell a player on the sideline what play you want; he can run in and tell Doug Williams (our quarterback), then Doug will call the play to the team in the huddle. This way I can hear what you're calling without having to understand these signals."
Excerpted from Game Plan for Life by Joe Gibbs Copyright © 2012 by Joe Gibbs. Excerpted by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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