A Right Relationship
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself how in the world you got to where you are? In school, I was the guy who sat in the front row, pointed at my letter jacket and said, “I need a C. I need to be eligible.” So how did I end up as coach of the Washington Redskins?
My path to success has been interesting—one full of people and significant events that have greatly influenced me along the way.
While growing up in the hills of North Carolina, my mother and grandmother made certain that I was always in church. It helped shape my views as I had to choose between the Bible and what it said of how I was created versus the view being taught in school that I was formed when two amoebas happened to hit in a mud puddle a couple million years ago. At church, I was hearing that God looked down and loved me enough to make me and put me on earth with special abilities. I started searching for the truth. I wanted proof for what I believed. As I looked around, I came to believe one thing for sure—since there was a world, there must be a world maker.
My pastor, grandmother and mother encouraged me to read the Bible. It provided me with added proof that God exists. Think about it. It was written by 35 authors over a period of 1,500 years with a perfectly consistent theme from beginning to end. You know how hard that is to do?
While coaching, I had to call plays from the press box by telling an assistant coach who told a player who eventually told the quarterback. It’s next to impossible to get the message right. But through the pages of the Bible, God has given man the truth—plain and simple.
God created Adam and Eve, and you and me, for a purpose. He wants to have a relationship with us. So based on the truth of the Bible, at age nine I trusted Christ as my Savior and Lord.
As I grew older, I found there were other things the world wanted me to believe. You have one life to live and then you die, so you should do your own thing. Do whatever it takes to be happy and successful in life. I bought into the world’s game plan as my coaching career took off, thinking that were I to become a head football coach I would have all the money and prestige I would ever need. My drive to become a head coach became an obsession. I wanted the position more than anything else in life.
After a number of assistant coaching jobs, in 1972, while coaching at Arkansas, God placed a small, unassuming Sunday school teacher named George Tharel in my path. I was intrigued by his life and his teaching, amazed to find someone so at peace with himself and with God. I excel at being driven, but I have always envied people who could relax and enjoy life. As I observed his life, I started to see that there was another game plan. God’s plan was not based on money, position and winning football games. God was only concerned with me having a right relationship with Him.
Even though I had become a Christian at age nine, God had never been a priority. George helped me to see that; so one night in church I went forward and confessed in my heart, “God, I’ve known You since I was nine, but I have not been living for You. Tonight, I want to rededicate and commit my life to You.”
As I began to live out my faith, even through some trying circumstances, my life began to change for the better. Some of the changes were immediate, others have been a process.