At age 45, Vince Lombardi became a head football coach in the NFL for the first time in his life. It was 1959, and he had the challenging task of leading the Green Bay Packers, a team that had only won two games the previous season. He clearly had his work cut out for him.
But Lombardi wasn’t going to let last year’s record shape his expectations. This was a new season, after all — just as each new year can be a new season for each of us today!
When the discouraged group of players gathered for their first preseason meeting, I’m sure they wondered how their new coach was planning to turn things around. Coach Lombardi entered the locker room and stood silently for several seconds. Holding out a football in front of these men, he spoke one of the most famous quotes in football history:
“Gentlemen, this is a football.”
In just five words, the new coach had communicated his philosophy for the team’s success: They were going to start with the basics and make sure to execute the fundamentals. You see, the Packers had been losing, not because they lacked talent, but because they’d forgotten the basics.
This is a powerful message for us as believers. As we enter a new year, our success or failure will be determined by how well we execute the basics of the Christian life.
A New Beginning
Vince Lombardi brought the Packers a new philosophy that led to incredible success in the following years, including several league championships and Super Bowl victories. A seemingly hopeless team was given a new beginning, and Lombardi became one of the most successful coaches in NFL history.
What a great lesson! No matter how poorly things may have gone for you in past years, your turnaround can happen amazingly fast. But the key to your turnaround is the same as it was for the Packers — you have to get back to the basics.
However, “going back to the basics” means a lot more than just being able to quote a few Bible verses. It means allowing God’s Word to become such a part of us that we can stand in victory and impact the world for Jesus.
The early Church was such a great example of this. They were known as “uneducated and untrained men,” yet they rocked the world! How did this happen? Because “they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
The Day of Pentecost had brought these early disciples a new beginning. In a moment’s time, they received power from on high — reversing all the failure and frustration that had gone on before. Instead of denying, doubting, or betraying their Lord, they now were bold witnesses (Acts 1:8, 2:1-4). The same can happen to you!
Just like us, the early Church was tempted to get busy with other things and lose sight of the basics that had given them such strength and favor. Thankfully, God brought them back to a renewed commitment, and they said: “We will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).
Going back to the basics resulted in a time of breakthrough for the church in Jerusalem, just as it will for us today: “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly” (Acts 6:7).
You see, the world won’t be changed by religion or theology, but by believers who’ve had a personal encounter with the living God. So let’s get back to the basics — and turn the world upside down for Jesus!
Ben Cerullo has been named by Charisma Magazine as one of the “30 Emerging Voices” who will lead the church in the next decade. His ministry carries a powerful anointing and prophetic message. Traveling extensively, both domestically and internationally, he has spoken in more than 27 nations. God continues to use him to reach people with the Gospel, confirming His Word with signs following.