Tony Dungy and Mike Tomlin are two gifted and successful football coaches. Both have led Super Bowl winning teams. Both are Christian men of high character with impeccable integrity. These men share a common philosophy that is often summed up in the motto, “No excuses. No explanations.”
One of my early mentors was Dr. Robert “Bob” Dungy, an uncle of Coach Tony Dungy. Bob was the spiritual director of the Upper Room in Nashville, Tenn., and a servant leader in The United Methodist Church. Bob had that same quiet strength that was a staple characteristic of the Dungy clan. Bob seldom raised his voice and when he was angry, he spoke in even softer tones.
Bob was also a results-oriented person that did not want excuses or an explanation to rationalize one’s failure. He wanted to know if you learned from failure and how you would apply what you had learned so that you could achieve success. Bob was a successful United Methodist pastor, district superintendent, Conference Director, and a college and high school teacher. “No excuses, no explanations” was a staple part of his life.
When I think of some of the great women and men of the Christian faith, I see a shared core value of “no excuses, no explanations.” Mary, the mother of Jesus, other than asking how she could be expecting a child since she was a virgin, accepted the angel Gabriel’s announcement and willingly submitted to God. Mary could have crafted a wealth of excuses and explanations for her family, friends, and community, but instead she believed God and offered no personal defense. Moses, Israel’s greatest leader, lived a life that depended upon God time after time, and Moses never offered an excuse or an explanation for his own personal shortcomings. David, a man after God’s own heart, confessed his sins and asked God for forgiveness. Joseph, a man whose dreams were deferred and delayed, never offered excuses or explanations. Joseph trusted God and was vindicated.
Dr. Dungy would be embarrassed by the depths most of us go to excuse or explain our failures to the call and commands of Christ. We offer perfectly good explanations for why we are doing, or are not doing, what Jesus clearly requires. The problem with always having an excuse or an explanation is that we seldom grow past our mistakes and failures. Instead of moving forward we get bogged down in mediocrity and we never grow past our failures.
Dr. Dungy, Coach Dungy and Coach Tomlin all believe and practice grace and forgiveness, while expecting of themselves and those they lead, a commitment to improve and to grow stronger while eliminating the menacing areas of weakness. This commitment to “No excuses. No explanations” produces champions in every arena of life.
I am convinced that one day I will have to stand before the Lord, and he will ask me what have I done with all that I’ve been entrusted. There will be “No excuses, no explanation.” The good news for me and for you is that Jesus has given us a precious resource that eliminates our need for excuses or explanations. The Holy Spirit has been offered to us. The Holy Spirit brings all the tools necessary for obtaining “super bowl” caliber success.
“No excuses, no explanations” are needed when we are guided by God’s Holy Spirit.