Tony Dungy Reveals The Moment He Put Faith First: ‘You’ve Got to Have Eternity in Mind’

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Tony Dungy Reveals The Moment He Put Faith First: ‘You’ve Got to Have Eternity in Mind’

By Movieguide® Contributor

Tony Dungy had Christian faith instilled in him from a very young age, but he recently revealed he didn’t take those lessons seriously until he was playing for the NFL.

“My mom was a Sunday School teacher. And she always talked about, ‘Hey, no matter what you do in life, you’ve got to put the Lord first, you’ve got to create that time for the Lord. You’ve got to do things for Him.’ And I heard it when I was a kid, but it didn’t really register,” Dungy shared. “My mom was telling me this the whole time, but it’s going in one ear and out the other.”

Dungy became a football star while playing for the University of Minnesota, and signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers after graduation. 

It wasn’t until he joined the team that Dungy reconnected with his faith. 

“I was 21 years old … and the first thing [head coach Chuck Noll] said to us, he said, ‘Men, I want to welcome you to the National Football League. You’re now going to get paid to play football. So that makes it your profession. But don’t make football your life. If you make football your whole life, you’re gonna be disappointed,’” he remembered. “And I was like, ‘Wow, are you kidding me?’ Well, up to this point, it kind of [had] been my whole life.”

After that, Dungy started spending more time with the 20 “really, really strong, committed Christian guys on that team.” 

“And they invited me to Bible studies, and they invited me to chapel, and for the first time, I really started reading the Bible, trying to get out of it what those guys got out of it,” he continued. 

The football coach said the situation reminded him of his mother’s favorite verse, Matthew 16:26: “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”

He explained, “That’s what these guys we’re trying to get through to my head. You’ve got to have eternity in mind. You can’t just focus on the sport. And I learned that as a 21-year-old, and that’s when I first started really carving out that time, going to chapels, going to players’ Bible studies, and really trying to grow in my faith.”

Movieguide® previously reported on Dungy’s faith:

Former NFL coach Tony Dungy is vocal about his faith and biblical worldview regarding abortion.

He recently came under fire for expressing his thoughts on Twitter, where he wrote: “The question is: does the baby have any rights? If you don’t believe it’s a life, then it has no rights. But…if you believe it’s a life, then it has rights. 38 states have fetal homicide laws implying they think it is a life.”

Dungy and his wife, Lauren, certainly believe that God creates life in the mother’s womb and felt an early calling to care for children in need.

The couple co-authored a new book called “Uncommon Influence: Saying Yes to a Purposeful Life,” to talk about their 30 years of experience serving the Lord in the foster care system through adoption.

“We believe that we’re being obedient to God’s calling on our lives,” Lauren told Air 1 Radio.

“We just think that Christianity – people can say ‘It’s weird.’ People can say it’s different. But Jesus said, ‘We go down a narrow road,’ and the path is not the broad path that the whole world is on,” Tony added. “So, we choose to look at that as not weird or different but, uncommon. And then with influence, we wanted to let people know that they can have an influence in their world in a lot of different ways.”

The couple added that while life in Christ offers freedom from a life of sin, it also means that there is a new responsibility to be obedient to God’s calling on your life.

“Saying yes means being obedient to God’s calling,” Lauren said. “He asks us, He requires us to be obedient and so we’ll respond by hearing His voice and doing what He asks of us … that’s saying yes. It often involves sacrifices but that’s what we do and Tony and I have done this our entire lives … saying yes. It may be uncomfortable or we may have questions as we obediently answer to God but He doesn’t take us down a path for nothing.”

“He has a purpose and a plan for everything we do in life,” she added. “Early on, He called us to use that platform with football. We had an audience and were able to influence and speak to many people but it comes with a price if you will. You have an audience and you can use it to build yourself up or you can point people to Christ and let them understand the calling is a purpose to give glory to God. We strive to do that and will continue doing that until we go home to be with Him.”

For Tony, understanding God’s calling starts with prayer.

“We just have to get used to listening and hearing and that’s where prayer comes in. One thing Lauren and I talk about amongst ourselves is, is it something that is glorying God? Is it something that we’re passionate about? And if both of those are yes, then there’s a good chance we are hearing from the Lord,” Tony said.

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