The winningest collegiate football coach of all time is not Paul “Bear” Bryant, Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden, Eddie Robinson, or Amos Alonzo Stagg. And on the very short list of coaches with over 300 wins is one of our own—Carson-Newman University’s coach Ken Sparks.
But the man at the top of the list is John Gagliardi who retired in 2012 after a 64 year head coaching career, 60 of which were at St. John’s University in Minnesota. He won four national championships and 30 conference championships. He won an astonishing 489 games. Coach Gagliardi’s story is remarkable. His strategy for winning is radical. He won with no’s:
No tackling in practice.
No full contact practices.
No calling him “coach.”
No blowing whistles.
No lifting weights.
No practice over 90 minutes.
The coach had a limited agenda of a few focused excellent priorities that led to a lot of winning. As Vance Havner said, “The Apostle Paul said…‘this one thing I do…’ not these 1,000 things I dabble with.” There is the great power of focusing on a few important priorities. But to get there you’ve got to say “no” to lesser things. It is pretty radical and against human nature for most of us to understand that we must say no to many things in order to live our lives seeing that which matters most really matters most. For the sake of your marriage and family, what is it you need to pronounce an emphatic “no” over? For the sake of a victorious walk with the Lord, what “no” is needed in your personal life? For the sake of a growing ministry, what must be excluded?
Some things we can’t do in order to accomplish that which we must do. Dabbling with a thousand things gets pretty tiring. Focusing on a few very impactful and important high priorities brings energy, life, and Godly success. Our Lord said it like this in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…” Our priorities cannot be based upon our wants, but upon His will. Are you seeking those things which matter most to the very heart of God? Under His Lordship, prioritize your life and learn the power of saying a gracious, “no.”
It is a joy to be with you on this journey.