If You've Ever Thought Of Quitting...

"At one point I actually decided to hand in my resignation the next morning; then I changed my mind." Bill Walsh, San Francisco 49ers.

Good move, Bill!

Just sixteen months later Walsh would guide the 49ers to victory in Super Bowl XVI, the first of three the team would claim under his leadership. But that particular night, after a heartbreaking loss to the Miami Dolphins, his young NFL coaching career seemed doomed. In less than two full seasons as a head coach, Walsh had 5 wins and 22 losses, the worst record in the NFL. No wonder he sat sobbing in the front of the plane that carried his team back to San Francisco.

If you have ever thought of quitting, read The Score Takes Care Of Itself, the posthumous book detailing Walsh's philosophy of leadership. The coach will make you rethink waving the white flag. He had me with his first story:

"At times like that I would think back to my days as an amateur boxer, when I'd see a guy knocked flat on his back and then awkwardly struggle to one shaky knee. Everything is blurry, his balance is gone, consciousness is tenuous, he's bleeding and bruised, but as bad as things are there is one message he hears ringing inside his head: 'Stand up, boy; stand up and fight.' I know because as a young man I was that boxer.

NFL football is no different from any professional endeavor, boxing or business or anything where the stakes are significant and the competition extreme: When knocked down, you must get up; you must stand and fight....

Failure is part of success, an integral part. Everybody gets knocked down. Knowing it will happen and what you must do when it does is the first step back....During the ensuing fourteen years, the San Francisco 49ers won five Super Bowls. It happened only because at that moment of deepest despair I had the strength to stand and confront the future instead of wallowing in the past....The competitor who won't go away, who won't stay down, has one of the most formidable competitive advantages of all."(pages 10-11)

I admire Walsh. His tenacity is laudable, his accomplishments are legendary, and his words are inspiring. He's right, "When knocked down, you must get up, you must stand." The Apostle Paul understood that better than most. On a God-given mission played out on the gridiron of life Paul was beat up, worn out, and ready to quit. Like Walsh he got back up. But when I read Paul's words I find that the source of his strength is significantly different than the great coach.

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 ESV

If you've ever thought of quitting, listen to Bill. You've got to get up! But heed the word of God through Paul: Tough times are tools God uses to make us lean on Him. So lean on His strength, not your own. If God raises the dead (and He does!) He's got all the power you need.

Where are you struggling today? Set your hope on Him!