...It's up to you and only you.
Some say the phrase got it's beginning from Bud Wilkinson, legendary football coach at Oklahoma, in the 1940's. Others say America became familiar with these five words because of a request Lou Holtz made of Laurie Wenger to paint a blue and gold sign that the players could hit on the way out to the field.
I'll stick with the Notre Dame story; but both are actually correct.
After Coach Holtz became the head football coach at Notre Dame in 1986, he went through all the books he could find on the storied football program's history and came across a photo with a "Play Like a Champion Today" sign.
Holtz asked everybody who took down the sign? Everyone he talked with didn't remember it even being up. So Coach Holtz said, 'Get that painted up. I'm going to put it in the same place and everybody is going to hit it on the way out to the field to remind them of all the sacrifices they have made, their families have made and other people have made for them to be there."
It took Wenger about a week to paint the 4-foot-high by 3-foot-wide wooden sign, preparing the wood, priming it, painting it gold and then hand lettering it in blue.
John Heisler, senior associate athletic director, said Notre Dame has tried to find out where the sign Holtz saw in the photo came from. He said no one, including former coaches remember it.
"I don't even know where the phrase came from, but it certainly has become associated with Notre Dame," Heisler said.
Few people knew about the practice of players slapping the sign on the way out to the field until NBC started putting a camera in the tunnel in 1991, Heisler said.
The rest is history.
The sign, which Wenger said she had to touch up once about 10 years ago, has become another tradition on the tradition-laden campus. Many Notre Dame players don't know the history behind the sign, but they all touch it on their way out to the field. "I don't know if it's tradition or not, but for me, individually, it adds to my energy," tailback Darius Walker said. "I'm all energetic coming down the stairs but once you touch the board its like the board just bounces energy into you so it gets you even more pumped up and hyped up before you go out there."
Five simple words; one powerful sentence.
Holtz talked about the sign when he left the school after the 1996 season.
"I'll think about you coming out of the tunnel. I'll think about you touching the 'Play Like a Champion' sign," he said. "I'll relive it each and every week, and I'll have the fondest memories."
Motivation is so key and vital to our lives. Living for the right thing and pursuing it with laser like focus, passion and motivation is almost unexplainable once we experience it or see others engaged in it. And though most of us will never run out onto the field at Notre Dame, or the fact that most will never be in the Fighting Irish's locker room to touch the hand painted 36"x48" sign located at the stairwell doesn't mean we can't Play Like Champions Today.
The good news is that we can be champions; winners, in many areas of our lives. And as we celebrated fatherhood yesterday we soon realize that this is an area that every man can excel at if he chooses to.
We all can be Champion Dads.
Allow me to share.
1 Timothy 5:8 states; If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Those are strong words with even a stronger consequence if not heeded.
When we read the word "provide" we immediately think of fiances, or at least I do as a man, but there are other things that are equally as important as earning a living and providing financially for your family.
Below is a Top Ten list of what a Champion Dad would seek to provide for his family.
1. Provide Stability
Proverbs 29:4 states; A leader of good judgment gives stability; an exploiting leader leaves a trail of waste. The Dad is the head of the household and with that large responsibility he needs to recognize the importance of displaying good judgement, being appropriate in his response and being committed to a lifelong pursuit of wisdom. Easier said than done, but the stakes are high. I believe that peace, prosperity and purity are worthy pursuits for a father; Peace through excepting Christ as your savior, Prosperity as a goal spiritually, physically, financially, relationally and socially, and finally, Purity in our actions and our thoughts. As a man the last one might be the toughest of all to pursue and attain. It is tough to live a life of complete purity. In the end, Just as soldiers in battle look to their leaders for command and confidence, a family looks to a Champion Dad to do the right thing and to lead.
2. Provide Financially
Genesis 2:15 states; "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." Work is important, and rewarding. Dr Henry Cloud in his book Necessary Endings says this; " God has promised us an abundant life, but has not promised us an abundant life without work." Well said. Does that mean that we will we never find ourselves between jobs or careers? No... but it does mean we are not to be lazy and that we always are seeking to provide through our efforts for those who depend on us.
3. Set an Example
I think it is safe to say we all are teachers, we either are teaching what is good or what is bad... and everyone is watching. if we all are setting examples, and all of us are, then lets make sure it is a good one.
4. Be a Teacher
Part and parcel of what I just shared in number 3, an example often just happens, but being a teacher means you determine the subject matter:
- How to put a worm on a hook
- How to treat a member of the opposite sex
- How to treat a person who has a different point of view or a
different belief system than you do
different belief system than you do
- How to live
Deuteronomy 4:19 states; "Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them."
5. Provide Opportunity for Relationship
A Champion Dad accepts responsibility for his children and accepts appropriate responsibility for others who may call or look upon him as "Dad". Be available. Be involved.
6. Pass on a Future
The key here is not to simply pass along "material stuff" like David did for Solomon to build the temple, or an inheritance. A Champion Dad passes on a future by blessing and believing in his kids. A Dad who says, "I believe in you" goes a long way. Most importantly pass on your faith in God. It is simply the greatest possession you have to pass onto to your children. Remember the words from Jeremiah 29:1; "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." We are ALL God's children and he has a plan, a future for each and everyone of us. Let's do the same for our children. It's vital.
7. Stay Connected to Christ
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." -John 15:1-5
8. Stay Connected to other Godly men
Proverbs 27:17 states; "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Friends, good friends, Godly friends, are one of the most precious and meaningful treasures any man could ever have or hope for.
9. Stay faithful in the little things...
...and you'll be amazed at how the big things take care of themselves. This is often very difficult for me. Everything is important, not just the big stuff.
10. Have some fun
Make your home a fun place to be. Don't be the sheriff with guns a blazin' waitin' for the kids to do something wrong. Have fun with them, build memories.
In the end, Warren Buffet has had much more success in financial world than I have had as a husband and a father. I was the main reason for two failed marriages and two families breaking up. I have made more promises than I have kept and though my intentions in many instances where good I still failed many times over. But with that being said, it is my main goal, apart from living a committed life for Christ, to finish well. My wife deserves it, my children deserve it, and in the end, I deserve to finish well. I owe it to myself.
I want to play like a Champion today.
I hope you do too, and if you do, what might be the one thing from the Top Ten list that you could work on to provide for your family?