Friday, January 8, 2021by Reverend Dan on January 8, 2021
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
On Veteran’s Day back in November, I saw a short story featuring Hall of Fame and Super Bowl winning football coach Tony Dungy. Dungy was the first African American to win the Super Bowl as a head coach, and is now a TV commentator, motivational speaker, author, and mentor to players in the NFL who have lost their way. From all appearances, a very humble and Christ-centered man. And he seems to have come by it naturally.
On the segment, Dungy was sharing the story of the funeral of his father, Wilbur Dungy, who died in 2004. That day he heard friends speak of his father’s education, a BA and MA from the University of Michigan and a doctorate from Michigan State, and he simply nodded, having heard the stories before. Then another friend stood up and said, “One of the proudest moments of our lives was when Wilbur Dungy became one of the Tuskegee Airman.” Dungy said before he could stop himself, he said out loud, “Wait . . . what? Wait?!” Dungy never knew that his father had been a member of the nation’s first all-black fighter pilot unit.
Like his son, Wilbur Dungy was not a braggard. He didn’t need accolades and honors. Living his life with honor and dignity was enough. But at least some of the things his father had said to him growing up finally made sense. Once when he was a teenager, Tony complained about unfair treatment from white people and his father made it clear he didn’t want to hear it. “Don’t worry about that, you just take care of your business and do the right thing”, was his father’s advice. “If something goes wrong, fix it. If you can’t, learn how. There was a time when we didn’t know how to fly, so we taught ourselves.”
Or in 1993, when Dungy was the defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings. Even though he had the number one defense in the league, when head coaching jobs opened up, he never got a call. He was discouraged and reached out to his father and remembers him saying, “Don’t worry about it. Teach yourself how to fly and keep going.” Tony had always thought those references to flying were just a metaphor to quit making excuses when in fact, they were literal.
When we live our lives in humility and service to others, the results are reward enough. There is no medal or plaque that can match the ability to lay your head down at night knowing you have done the right thing. God grant that we can all live our lives in such a humble way.
Gracious God help us to realize that only in becoming the least can we become our very most . In Jesus’ name, AMEN.