A coach by definition is suppose to instruct in fundamentals and direct strategies, I think there are none better at doing this than those who are led by the Lord. I know I was influenced by several different coaches throughout my life, including my own Dad who coached all my little league and Boy’s Club baseball as well as basketball. I had other coaches like the Varsity Football coach who tried to teach and instill in us that every day it was a “great day to be alive.”
Coaches that hold Christian beliefs are going to more equipped to carry a team through the adversities of the down times. He will also be apt to instill the humility that is needed for a winning team to have sustained success. Sadly however there are not very many coaches percentage wise that are outspoken Christians. We have compiled a list of some of the top coaches from the sports world today who aren’t afraid to wear their faith on their sleeve. Every coach on this list has been blessed with great accomplishments, some even reaching the championship level. Enjoy as we countdown the top 10 Christian coaches in pro sports today.
10. Chan Gailey
He is the current coach of the Buffalo Bills whose coaching credits includes going to 2 playoff games with the Cowboys as well as coaching on Super Bowl teams in Denver and Pittsburgh. During his time in College he set a record taking Georgia Tech to Bowl games in all of his first 6 seasons.
Christian Quote: “I pray that I will honor God with my life. That’s what I pray for. I want his wisdom, and his strength, and his power, and his discernment to filter through me, and if you have a close enough walk with him, it will.”
9. Marvin Lewis
Marvin Lewis is the coach of the Cincinnati Bengals and has led them to the playoffs more times than not. He was the 2009 NFL “Coach of the Year”, he is a permanent fixture at the chapel. He also loves one on one time with the chaplain as well as group Bible studies.
Christian Quote: “I’ll basically mandate that everyone goes to chapel at least once because I want them to have the experience of it.”
8. Lovie Smith
Lovie who was recently fired by the Bears actually had a winning record with the team and had been in the playoffs several times under Lovie. In the 2005 season they came up just shy losing the Super Bowl to fellow Christian coach Tony Dungy and the Indianapolis Colts.
Christian Quote: “Jesus Christ is the center of my life. Every day starts with him.”
7. Joe Gibbs
Coach Gibbs had two different stints as the head coach of the Washington Redskins. He retired once in 1992 only to return in 2004 until 2008. He had a total of 12 seasons as coach of the Redskins with 8 playoff appearances, 4 NFC titles, and 3 Super Bowl Championships. His final coaching record was 171-101. He is also a championship caliber race car team owner in Nascar. Joe Gibbs racing has won 3 championships, 1 with Bobby Labonte and 2 with Tony Stewart.
Christian Quote: “I get mad at our players, because believe it or not they won’t wear thigh pads, a lot of them. I said, ‘you’re crazy, you’re going to battle without a lot of the armor that you need. So if a football player needs to be prepared and dressed for battle, how about you and I as we go forward during the day?”
6. Urban Meyer
Meyer is certainly best known for his National Championship teams in Florida and the time he spent with fellow Christian and team leader(QB) Tim Tebow. Those title seasons came in 2006 and 2008 and by the time Meyer was done in Florida his win percentage was a record .842 which is incredible. He is now currently the coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes as he tries to help them regain championship form.
Quote: “It’s so easy to be average, It takes that little something special to be a great player. We don’t want to coach average.”
5. Monty Williams
Coach Williams (New Orleans Hornets) was recenty professing his faith to the media regarding struggling through the highly-publicized trade of his franchise player Chris Paul to the Los Angeles Clippers. Monty says he leaned on God and got through it with prayer. Williams is no stranger to having to rely on prayer, while in college he was given a fatal diagnosis for a heart condition he had. Coach said it cleared up and could only credit it as being a miracle. He also has spoken about being suicidal in the past due to being molested as a child. He then instead of going down a path of destruction turned his life over to God.
Christian Quote: “I've forgiven them, those family members....in my heart. By the grace of God I'm here."
4. John Harbaugh
He sits right now at the apex of his young coaching career. Having already had a winning record and much playoff success the Baltimore Ravens had never made it as far as the Super Bowl. Until this year that is when they upset the New England Patriots in the AFC title game, snapping a hard to believe streak that the Pats were on (They were 68-0, when leading at halftime at home under Belicheck and Brady). Now John will coach opposite his brother Jim Harbaugh who is head coach of the San Francisco 49’ers. John has fellow Christian and previous Super Bowl MVP Ray Lewis leading the charge for for the Ravens in Super Bowl 47 as this is Ray's retirement game.
Quote: “So you just take it as an opportunity, there is no greater teacher than experience.”
3. Bobby Bowden
Bobby coached in Florida State from 1976-2009, he is retired now and holds the record for most career wins. Bowden led the Seminoles to two National Championships in 1993 and 1999.
He likes to get his day started the right way for both his faith walk and his marriage, when he starts each day reading the Bible in the morning with his wife. Bobby says the Holy Bible is the most underutilized tool in all of sports. I very much agree with that statement, the truth is power.
Christian Quote: “You want to know what a real test of faith is? That’s when you go to church and reach into your pocket, and all you got is a $20 bill.”
2. Mike Singletary
Singletary first gained fame as the vicious middle linebacker for the Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears in 1985. Few people however know that his intensity for loving the Lord is greater than the intensity he played the game with. Mike is currently coaching on the Minnesota Vikings.
Christian Quote: “What I do now is I’ll go out with a couple of coaches. If they order a beer, that’s fine. I’ll order a sparkling water. And let them talk about whatever subject they want. We can sit there and talk. But I want them to know that I love them and that I’ll do anything for them. I’ll meet them halfway, just so long as I don’t cross the line where I’m oversteppin my bounds with the lord. The Holy Spirit will guide me with that.”
1. Tony Dungy
The below featured bible verse from the book of Matthew is Tony Dungy’s favorite. Having lived the NFL lifestyle amongst all the other players and coaches Tony says he has seen plenty of examples where guys had all the money and materialistic things they needed and wanted but yet couldn’t direct their lives away from the chaos that consumes so many of the rich and famous.
“The Truth” Matthew 16:26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
Christian Quote: “It’s about the journey- mine and yours- and the lives we can touch, the legacy we can leave, and the world we can change for the better.”
These are all awesome and outstanding coaches who I'm sure have inspired a great number of superstars over the years. Lots of Championship titles credited to these men who followed God to achieve their success. Please let us at F&E know if we missed any of your favorite Christian coaches in the comments section. God Bless, Jesus is King!
Resources- www.youtube.com, The Holy Bible, English Standard Version“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”,photo credit: Keith Allison via photopin cc