After Clemson’s heartbreaking loss last Saturday night, I looked forward to hearing some wisdom from a most beloved inspirational speaker, Dabo Swinney. But when I heard Dabo remind his audience that “We still control our destiny,” I thought, what about God?
I have seen Dabo and the team members acknowledge God when entering the stadium and after making a touch down. I knew Dabo was known for his faith, so I did some research.
I will direct you to an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 24, 2013, in which the author describes the spiritual climate at Clemson, particularly as it is fed by the faith of Dabo Swinney and other members of the staff. I quote from the article, With God on Our Side,
At Clemson, God is everywhere. The team’s chaplain leads a Bible study for coaches every Monday and Thursday. Another three times a week, the staff gathers for devotionals. Nearly every player shows up at a voluntary chapel service the night before each game.
The players all know the coach’s favorite Bible verse, 1 Corinthians 9:24-25: “Run your race to win, don’t just run the race.”
“I’m a Christian,” Coach Swinney tells Clemson recruits. “If you have a problem with that, you don’t have to be here.”
The article goes on to describe how players have been baptized on the field, dedicating their lives to Christ, with team mates as witnesses. Coaches and staff members address all aspects of a player’s character, not just the player’s catching or running skills. Dabo and the rest of the staff and team turn to Christ not just to thank Him for a win, but also for wisdom when they lose. After a painful loss, Dabo prayed, “Lord, help us learn from this. We take glory in everything You do, win or lose.”
In my introduction to this blog, I describe what I mean by a teachable moment and I point out that athletic coaches have a unique opportunity to make an impact on a young person’s life; athletic events are teachable moments by their very crisis nature. By setting the focus of each athletic competition and the focus of life, as a whole, as being a spiritual race run with Christ, Dabo demonstrates how one controls one’s destiny. Setting one’s life to be Christ-centered, Christ-focused, and Christ-worthy is the best possible strategy for one’s life and one’s destiny…temporal and eternal.
Ebenezer (Ebo) Ogundeko, a freshman from Brooklyn, N.Y., picked the Tigers over Alabama, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, and other programs. One of his reasons: “I felt like coming to Clemson would bring me closer to Jesus,” he told The Chronicle. “Most dudes on the team, they take their religion very seriously, and their relationship with Jesus Christ. They’ve encouraged me to move closer and closer to God.”
I believe that what our Creator wants is our reconciliation with Him. To encourage a young person to move closer and closer to God…through dedication, through prayer, through sharing, through outward demonstration…affects one’s destiny, in the best possible way.
Dabo was right. We all control our destiny.