By Kathy Barr
Tony Dungy is well-known for his many successes in his football career. Ten years of going to the playoffs persuaded football players all over the country that Dungy was a formidable player. However, thirty-three years ago he realized his priorities were not in the right place. “in junior high and high school,” he said, “athletics became my Lord. Jesus wasn’t first. Outstanding Christians showed me about Christian growth.” Dungy said he used to have a fiery temper and was very competitive. Winning was everything. That changed when he made Jesus the Lord of his life. Christianity was not something new to the football player. He had been raised in the faith and had some outstanding examples in his life. His grandfather was a Baptist preacher and his mother was active in the church they attended “My mother used to practice her lessons on us for Sunday,” he said. Tony shared these thoughts and experiences with his audience at the North American Christian Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. A yearly gathering of Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Christians from across the country gather to encourage one another, share thoughts and ideas and discover how they can become more effective in living a Christian life. Being a good father is also important to Tony. Tony’s father was an important role model and taught his son some important lessons, including the importance of using self-control. Photo courtesy of Kathy Barr Tony and his wife have seven children, aged 11 months to 25 years. Several are adopted. “Adoption is part of being pro-life,” he said. This active father wants to encourage other fathers to follow in his footsteps of being involved in his childrens’ lives. “Put as much energy into being a dad as doing your job,” he said. Tony also chooses the charities that he assists with to further his pro-family ideals. Charities that he supports include Family First and All Pro Dads. In his talk, Tony used the example of Michael Vick to illustrate what can happen when a young man grows up without a father. Often in this situation, a young man is more likely to become involved in illegal activities because he doesn’t have the guidance of a male figure in his life. Michael got involved in dog fighting and was recently released from Leavenworth. Tony met with and encouraged Michael to use the talents God had given him and to stay on the right side of the law. Tony also had some words of encouragement for ministers. “It’s a tough job,” he said, “but champions overcome problems. God wants you to persevere and believe in Him. You’re impacting lives and communities.” At the end of his speech, Tony shared a verse from Scripture to motivate the audience to lead lives that are worthy of a Christians’ calling. “Whatever you do, do it hardily as unto the Lord,” he told his audience. It’s obvious that Tony Dungy has put this verse to practice in his daily life. Photo courtesy of Kathy Barr.
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