Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
– 1 Peter 5:2-4 (ESV)
The sport’s world has lost one of the best “dadgum” coaches of our time. Not only was Bobby Bowden a “dadgum” fine coach, he was “dadgum” fine human being. His coaching record puts him in elite company. Bowden finished his career second in all-time wins by a Division 1 – FBS coach. Between 1987 to 2000, his Florida State Seminoles finished every season with at least 10 wins and in the top 5 of the Associated Press College Football Poll while winning 2 national championships. In 44 years as a head coach, 40 of Bowden’s teams finished with winning records. Three of Bowden’s sons went into the coaching profession as did countless others as a result of his influence and positive example. He was a proud family man. Bowden also took on the father role for many a young athlete who had no positive male role model in their life. Above all, Coach Bowden was a man of unwavering faith in God. He felt as though it was part of his job to share his faith with his players and coaches. “Why can’t a coach express to his players what he believes? You’re trying to help the kid.” “Dadgum it”, he’s right! Coach Bobby Bowden was called by God to coach and he was obedient to that call. Lord, I pray You will raise up more men and women with the passion of Bobby Bowden.
Bobby Bowden was a great leader. What are the characteristics of a great leader? Peter gives us four that are not only worth listening too, but applying to our lives. First, great leaders realize they are caring for God’s flock, not their own. Second, they lead out of eagerness to serve, not out of obligation. Third, great leaders are concerned for what they can give, not for what they can get. And fourth, they lead by example, not force. In my mind, Coach Bowden lived out every one of these four characteristics. Who are you leading—an athletic team, your family, those who work in your business? Hear the words of Peter and Coach Bowden, then live them out. Don’t settle for being a good leader, be a “dadgum” great leader!
Heavenly Father, thank you for the life of Coach Bobby Bowden. Help me to be a difference maker in the lives of those you have called me to serve. Amen.