Matt Eberflus may be the head coach for the Chicago Bears, but he knows he’s not the one ultimately in charge. That assignment belongs to God incarnate: Jesus Christ.
Formerly the defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts and the linebacker coach for the Cleveland Browns and the Dallas Cowboys, the 53-year-old Eberflus joined the Bears as the team’s 17th head coach on January 27, 2022.
The newly minted coach had a rocky start to his time with the Bears. He won his coaching debut with the team against the San Francisco 49ers on September 11, 2022, but the team struggled for the rest of the season, finishing with a 3-14 record.
In a recent interview with the Sports Spectrum Podcast, Eberflus spoke about his Christian faith, and how God continues to transform his life.
“Seven years ago, I started doing the One Year Bible, so I’ve done it seven times now,” Eberflus shared, referring to a Bible with daily readings that take the reader through the entire Word of God in a year.
Speaking of Jesus, he said, “It’s remarkable how He cleans … and how you change from the inside out. And you can affect other people.”
Eberflus also told Sports Spectrum,
When you’re walking with the Lord, He kind of reveals things to you and shows you where it’s going. And our call is really to bring others to Christ … lead like Jesus. And that’s what we’re trying to do.
In terms of leading like Jesus, there is often a distorted perception of what good leadership should look like. Some see a leader as someone who is wholly competent, egotistical, larger than life and a “one man show.”
But that’s not what we find in the leadership example of Jesus Christ, who gives His life for the sheep, washes His disciple’s feet and lays down His life for His friends.
In fact, secular research has borne out success of this latter style of leadership, one that is oriented to service, self-sacrifice and humility.
American author and researcher Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, surveyed some of the most prominent leaders of Fortune 500 companies, and found something remarkable. He discovered that the typical “Level 5 Leader,” one who was leading a successful and growing organization, displayed “a powerful mixture of personal humility and indomitable will.”
“They’re incredibly ambitious, but their ambition is first and foremost for the cause, for the organization and its purpose, not themselves,” Collins found. “They are often self-effacing, quiet, reserved and even shy.”
Those are qualities we might not typically associate with leadership. But as Collins found, one of the most important ingredients making a good leader is humility. For Christians who see Jesus as the epitome of a good leader, that shouldn’t shock or surprise us.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8, ESV).
For Eberflaus, he will need all the leadership help he can get as he looks to turn around a flailing Chicago Bears team.
He is just one-and-a-half months away from the kickoff of his second season coaching the Bears, with his team facing the Green Bay Packers on September 10 to open their 2023 NFL season.
The head coach will look to improve upon his last season, especially with quarterback Justin Fields suiting up for his third season with the Bears.
And yet, no matter what happens, Eberflaus knows what is most important in life. And it isn’t football.
“The closer you get to God, the more truth you see. And sometimes it’s revealing, and you have to get on your knees and pray and say, ‘Lord, you know, I want to be like you. And please take this part away from me,’” he shared on the podcast. “And that’s the walk you have every day. It’s ‘take up your cross’ that to me is so important.”
Paraphrasing Matthew 22:37-39, he added,
It says, “Love the Lord with all your heart and your soul. And the second thing is love your neighbor as yourself.” So that, to me, are the two most important commandments, and that’s how we’re going to live.
May God also give us the grace to live like that.
If you’re having doubts about your faith, Focus on the Family is here to help. Consider the following resources.
Christian author and apologist Lee Strobel recently appeared on the Focus on the Family Broadcast to discuss his new book The Case for Heaven. On the broadcast, titled “Believing in the Hope of Heaven,” Strobel examines why our culture chases immortality and the evidence for the existence of the soul.
You can also purchase a copy of The Case for Christ here.
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