NFL Coach Tony Dungy speaks on campus and at Distinguished Lecture Series

Tony Dungy, head coach for the Indianapolis Colts football team and the guest speaker for the 2008 Jack Maddox Distinguished Lecture Series, can trace his spiritual development to four distinct periods and the Scripture verses he has meditated on during those times.

Dungy spoke to an audience of nearly 1,000 people-which included chapters of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes from regional high schools-in the gymnasium of the college's Student Life Center and to more than 1,500 people at Tydings Auditorium at Hobbs High School on March 13. During his lecture at both the afternoon and evening session, Dungy spoke openly of his Christian faith. College of the Southwest is a non-denominational Christian school.

The Jack Maddox Distinguished Lecture Series is sponsored by the J.F. Maddox Foundation in honor of its founder, Jack Maddox.  The purpose of the Series, which has been hosted by College of the Southwest since its inception, is to contribute to the quality of life in Lea County and the surrounding area by providing nationally recognized speakers for intellectual stimulation and entertainment.

"There's more to life than just playing and winning games," said Dungy, whose Colts team won the 2007 Superbowl. People have to have a meaning to their existence, he said, that's based on a spiritual life and can carry them through difficult times.

As a child and adolescent, Dungy considered himself a Christian, but "Christ wasn't my main focus," he said. Sports and going to schools were his objectives. His favorite verse at that time was John 3:16 which states: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life."

Later, when he played in Pittsburgh, Dungy became introduced to players who were passionate about their faith. "They were good guys and they were winning Super bowls," said Dungy of his teammates. "But they had a snap in their step [that I didn't have]. They had a relationship with Jesus Christ."

What he learned from them, he said was to put Jesus at the center of his life. During this time Dungy became active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, an organization in which he is still heavily involved.  During this period I Corinthians 9: 24-25 was his favorite Scripture which states: "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown."

Later, as he moved from playing professional football into his coaching career, Dungy's study of the Scripture directed him to Proverbs 16:3 which says, "Commit your work to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established."

Now, in this most recent phase of his spiritual growth, Dungy's favorite verse is Matthew 16:26: "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" He meditates on this verse, he said, because of his own unexpected success in football, and most recently writing-his book, Quiet Strength: The Principles, Practices and Priorities of a Winning Life (July 2007) is a New York Times bestseller.

Dungy said his life is a testimony of what God can do for an individual who is faithful in his Christian walk. "I am doing things when I was 14 or 15 I never dreamed about," he said. "Don't think there's anything you can't do. The Lord can have you do anything."

Of all of the accomplishments he's achieved, being of service to his family and community have been his most important roles. He encouraged audience members to consider how they could help other people.

"And work hard," he said. "Hard work covers everything...but more than that have your priorities squared away. The spiritual side of things is important."