I am a huge Peyton Manning fan. OK… so, Carol says I have a man-crush on him. I’ll own that. He’s fun to watch. Now, opinions are pretty polarized out there about whether he is as good as people say he is. I’ve personally followed the Manning family since I was kid growing up in Louisiana watching Archie play for the Saints. I’m also a graduate of the University of TN, Knoxville, where Peyton played 4 solid years before coming out as the #1 pick in the NFL prior to the 1998 season. He is just so fun to watch, calling all those audibles, engineering drives with such precision and timing.
One of his stats which just blows me away is his 4th quarter comebacks and game-winning drives. There are a number of sites depicting various stats on this topic, but this one probably has the best detail (and I’m a numbers guy). http://www.pro-football-reference.com/play-index/comeback.cgi?player=MannPe00
Peyton has completed 40 4th quarter comebacks and 51 game-winning drives! The level of intensity Peyton maintains throughout the game, but especially in the 4th quarter is unbelievably inspiring.
I liken parenting (really life in general… but for this topic, parenting) to the various quarters in a football game. We have 4 children, ages 5, 7, 11, 14. Things seemed easier in the 1st and 2nd quarter (the younger years) of our family life. Raising 2 boys who were close to 2 years in age that played pretty well together seemed… manageable. In fact, during that time, I would have even declared our family to be playing at an “elite level”. We were commended over and over for our children’s behavior and character. So young and prideful… Flash forward 8-10 years to the present, and well… life is very full and challenging. I would not trade it for the world, but it is challenging. Our approach and expectations as parents has been difficult to maintain when it is spread across 4 children with different ages, different needs, and extremely different personalities. And our once “elite level of parenting” (Ha!) seems to have dropped like an NFL team that loses a 30-point lead and goes on to lose the game.
So, today, we are in the 4th quarter of parenting. In fact, every day from here on out, I am in the 4th quarter. I desire to raise my family to become people who love God, love others, are productive citizens in society, and hopefully one day, lead their own families, ministries, or whatever they are called to do in life. To do this, I must maintain a high level of intensity and commitment to the goals we have as a family. Because in the moment, when I’m tired or have an agenda that doesn’t match their willingness to follow that agenda, I forget it and lose it. And those who watch football know that when a team starts to “lose their cool”, they forget who they are, and eventually kill themselves with penalties and turnovers.
But maintaining that level of intensity is not so easily done. For me, this means every day… every moment, much like every play in a football game… every moment could be that game-winning moment. Every moment counts. Make the most of them. Maybe that is what Paul meant with Ephesians 5:14-17:
14Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
Football games are won and lost in the 4th quarter. What things do you do to “win in the 4th quarter” of your family?