Football and discipleship, what do they have in common? How can looking at the most disciplined coach in football history equip you to disciple new believers?
I have never been a football fan. Honestly, for most of my life I really couldn’t care less about professional sports. After living in Wisconsin, I discovered the commitment of the Packers fans to follow and support this team is unlike anything I have ever experienced before.
Wisconsinites make it difficult to not love the Green Bay Packers. It did not take long to make me a true follower too! There is a historical foundation to the Packers’ structure that resonates deep into who they are today.
Effective discipleship is the very root of this football team. It is no wonder people from all over the world support and love the Packers. At the root of this team is a disciplined coach and a team that desired to make a difference.
The Right Coach
In 1959, the Green Bay Packers were on a massive losing streak. With a massive losing streak, the Packers were gearing up for failure in the football industry.
Vince Lombardi, is one of the greatest football coaches of all time. Therefore, he was hired to bring the Packers back to the top. Interestingly, he previously vowed to never associate himself with a losing team. So why would he take the job? The first season the Packers experienced with their new coach would mark the beginning of a winning streak that would go down in football history.
But how did Lombardi transform a losing team into a winning team in just one season?
Back to the Basics
Coach Lombardi came in to a losing streak with a plan that started with these words,
“Gentleman, this is a football.”
He brought his team back to the basics of the game. Because the team had lost so many games, they lacked the confidence to rebuild on their own. He had to start with changing their perspective.
To implement new training methods, the coach needed to light a fire in His players that would motivate them to choose to win again.
It’s true, this involved not only skill development, but also discipline. Because they practiced longer and harder than ever before, the coach never left the sidelines. He pushed his players to go hard and strong. He empowered them.
Coach Lombardi lived out his passion in such a way that it was the basis of his coaching style.
There are three things important to every man in this locker room. His God, his family, and the Green Bay Packers. In that order. – Vince Lombardi
Prioritize Faith, Family and Work
If the Packers were going to become winners and change the face of the team, they had to get their priorities straight. Lombardi had a way of building a team that propelled them to the top of their profession. It changed the way the football was played for future generations of the Packers. It changed their entire outlook on faith, family, and work.
What was the key to Lombardi’s success? Discipleship. The way he trained, and the methods used, looked similar to the ways Jesus equipped His disciples. With the heart of discipleship, he was able to make an impact on the future generations players. The focus in training was not on an immediate win. He was equipping a team to win for a lifetime.
Discipleship is a long term game
Like Lombardi, we want to disciple Christians in a way that will impact this generation and generations to come. Sometimes, as seasoned believers, you might feel like you are on a losing streak.
As the discipleship coach, what basics do you need to build a team that will impact the world? Coach Lombardi did a couple of things with his team that I think we can learn from as Christians seeking to make disciples that make disciples:
It started with the coach; his faith set the pace. Where are you at in your commitment to the Lord? What do others observe in your walk with God? Do you diligently teach Christians through your life by your example?
Each team member practiced the basic skills together. As the Packers practiced together, the coach could observe each player’s strengths. Therefore, the coach could position each player to play the game in their strengths rather than weaknesses. The team members had potential to work together for a greater impact. As a believer, can you identify the gifts and characteristics in others? Help them see that they have a unique strength in the family and the body of Christ and can use these gifts to make an impact today and generationally.
Practice. The team had to develop new healthy habits through daily practice. Some skills and drills felt redundant. Experts have a tendancy to forget they need to keep practicing.
Healthy spiritual habits like prayer, Bible study, fellowship and mentorship will help you grow in your faith. When you grow in your faith, your character reflects the practice you are putting in to becoming a follower of Jesus. How are you doing with the basic spiritual habits? Maybe you are not sure where to start? Check out iWrite Bible to get back to the basics of your faith.
Equipping Your Team
The greatest coach to live is Jesus. He equipped His team to make generational and eternal impact in the world. Imitating the methods of a successful coach is where multiplication happens.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
God’s Kingdom is relying on faithful players and focused coaches. It is never too late to make a comeback. Disciple makers are committed to following Jesus in a world that wants them to lose. The committed serve in their spiritual gifts and identify the gifts in others. They empower their team to serve God and use their gifts to reach the lost. They have developed the habits of prayer and Bible study and teach others the disciplines of the faith.
Are you committed to the winning team this season? What areas of your faith need focus?