Giant Dreams - Giant Results
Sunday, February 5th, my family was part of the estimated 111.3 million viewers that watched Quarterback Tom Brady throw a Hail Mary pass to the New York Giants’ end zone. As the football came toward the players like a shooting star, players lunged for it. But the football fell to the ground just out of the reach of Patriot Rob Gronkowski. That last gasp throw and incompletion sealed the victory for the New York Giants. If you pulled for the Giants, you jumped for joy like MSU FANS who celebrated their last second victory over Wisconsin via a Hail Mary pass. If you sided with the New England Patriots, the “agony of defeat" hit you like it did Wisconsin fans that saw an MSU team wrestle victory from defeat in one play.
After watching the hoopla and musing over Tom Coughlin's post-game interview the following day, some GIANT lessons came out of this with regard to his team’s pursuit of victory in the Super Bowl. They were clear about their goal and they were clear about what it took to get there. The team invested itself 110% in the pursuit of the prize with no guarantee of success. Would that you and I had the passion "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world" like teams striving to reach the Super Bowl. Tom Coughlin's philosophy goes something like this - train as much as you can, play as long as you can, be a good team as much as you can, strive mightily and be persistent for as long you can to reach the Super Bowl and win it.
Excerpts of Coughlin's Super Bowl interview can be understood in the way he lived into this football season. Winning the Super Bowl was the major goal. But look at what happened…
THE STATE OF THINGS
At one point in the season, the New York Giants were 7-7. Making the playoffs, much less qualifying for the Super Bowl, seemed remote. Injuries, teammates not on the same page, management thinking about firing him and other problems beset the organization. Despite the struggles, Coughlin said, "We never changed our goal...we never changed our objective... never changed our attitude. In other words, we didn’t spend time thinking backwards. We were always looking forward.” UMC TRANSLATION: They didn't spend time lamenting the membership loss of the past 40 years. Rather, they looked forward to making disciples today. It's still true, THE HARVEST IS PLENTIFUL BUT THE LABORERS ARE FEW. More importantly, the Giants kept the main thing - the main thing.
After the game, Coach Coughlin congratulated Eli Manning for his leadership, for his ascendancy toward making the Football Hall of Fame, on his name being mentioned alongside other quarterbacks of the NFL. Eli turned the tables. "All I want to do is help my team win. I'm just trying to be the best football player, the best quarterback I can be to help my team win.” That's more important than being an elite quarterback. UMC TRANSLATION: Ministry is not about me. As Bishop, DS, Pastor or Laity - nothing is more important than enabling Christ's church to reach its mission of "making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." It’s not about us.
In the interview, Coughlin talks about traits that help the team finish well. Late game drives are due to “mental toughness, resiliency and resolve...we do have great trust in each other, great belief that we can finish, and that if we keep playing one play at a time, as hard as we can go, that we will find a way to win. Excellent and exceptional plays kept us going in tough situations.” UMC TRANSLATION: We have to BELIEVE and not give up on the mission of the church. Along the way, certain individuals and churches will have to make some exceptional contributions and sacrifices for the church to move forward.
Coughlin's comments about the Jay Fund Foundation surprised me. He claimed that winning the Super Bowl would help him gather funds. Coughlin started the foundation to help families who have children with cancer. "When a child has cancer, everyone runs to help the child," he said. The Jay Fund focuses on other family members with needs e.g., mortgage needs, groceries, others things and other circumstances that occur in a family as it cares for a child with cancer. Tom Coughlin started the Jay Fund in 1996 during a coaching stint at Boston College. One of his players contracted leukemia and died. Coughlin visited the family and observed first-hand the financial and emotional toll it took on the family. Thus, the Jay Fund Foundation was born. UMC TRANSLATION: I discovered that Coughlin's view of the Super Bowl emphasized one of the focus areas of our denomination and Bishop's Day 2012. Tom Coughlin's Jay Fund Foundation seeks to IMPROVE HEALTH GLOBALLY. When the Giants won the Super Bowl, I clapped. But, when I found out that Coughlin’s Foundation improved health globally, I clapped and shouted all the more adding, “Deo Gratias.” See ya Bishop’s Day 2012!