Published by Compassion on August 9, 2022
Genres: Non-Fiction, Christian Life, Memoir
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Tony and Lauren Dungy remind readers that in order to live our fullest life, we need to be prepared to say yes to the opportunities God puts in our path. When we determine to be available to the possibilities that come from God, we discover a sense of fulfillment and contentment that is unparalleled by any other circumstances. The exact situation will look different for everyone, but the choice to say yes is the same for each of us. The Dungys teach us that the only way to know a life of true fulfillment is to totally give that life away.
Tony Dungy doesn’t know it, but his coaching style had quite the effect on my own. I read his first book, Quiet Strength, just after he retired from coaching the Indianapolis Colts. Growing up in southern Indiana, the Colts were “my team” and my dad’s company saw to it that we got to go to a game every year or two. Football was never really my sport, but after finishing out a gymnastics career, I turned toward coaching and found a philosophy of teaching in Quiet Strength that has guided me as both a coach and a pastor for the past fifteen years.
I hadn’t really followed Coach Dungy’s writing career past that book. I was generally aware of his other books, but had never picked them up. Now, fifteen years later, in the midst of a doctoral program in leadership, dealing with the study of leadership influence, Tony and Lauren Dungy’s thoughts on having Uncommon Influence proved to be a nice change of pace from the academic leadership material I’ve been reading. I don’t know that my advisors will let me quote them in my dissertation, but I’m certainly going to try!
Uncommon Influence is a book about using your influence—your position, your wealth, your relationships, your connection, whatever it is you can use—to make the world a better place. The Dungys encourage readers to say yes to a more purposeful life, to take hold of the opportunities that God puts in our path. For them, saying yes to God’s calling has meant engaging in foster care and adoption. After reading this book, I’d love to see Tony and Lauren write a book just on foster care, adoption, and building a multicultural, multi-ethnic family. While they are careful to protect the identity of their children, the Dungys give readers access to their lives to show how saying yes to God has challenged and blessed them.
The book is styled so that some chapters are written by Tony and others are written by Lauren. The result is that there’s something for everyone. The football fan will get some insights into Coach Dungy’s time as both a player and a coach. There are a few Peyton Manning stories thrown in. Tony shows how his use of influence as a leader in a football organization changed his players and set them up for success on and off the football field. But if football isn’t your thing, don’t worry, because Lauren’s chapters will focus more on their family and adoption/foster care. It’s obvious that each has worked with the other on developing the chapters, but they retain their distinctive voices throughout.
Uncommon Influence is encouraging and exemplary. The Dungys are both coaches and cheerleaders, guiding readers toward living out a radical life of “yes” in following Jesus, using their own example as an encouragement to follow. I’ve often thought that I’d love to see Coach Dungy back out on the field, but after reading about what he’s doing with his life now, I wouldn’t take that away from him for anything.