In the News:
Waco, Texas—During a successful football-coaching career, Art Briles has become known as someone who transforms longtime losers into winners. Players and colleagues say he’s an expert at making people believe that anything is truly possible.
Yet for the past 37 years, Briles, now head coach of 9-1 Baylor, has been plagued by guilt over the darkest day of his life. In October 1976, when Briles was playing college football at Houston, his parents and aunt were killed in a car accident while driving to one of his games. “If I hadn’t been playing, it would never have happened,” Briles said. “They were coming to see me.’
Afterward, a grief-stricken Briles switched schools and never played football again. He rarely discussed the accident, even with his own kids. “It’s not a topic I like to share or talk about. It hurts.”
Briles is finally sharing his story in a newly released autobiography, titled Looking Up. Although he admitted feeling “hopeless” at first, Briles, a devout Christian, said he was “raised right long enough to understand that there’s a purpose in life.”
He began coaching high school and then college football. Of Briles’ work at Baylor, ESPN’s Mark Schlabach wrote, “Somehow, Briles has transformed one of college football’s traditional doormats into an improbable BCS championship contender.”
Briles said, “Very easily, I could have gone down a wrong path with alcohol or an undriven lifestyle. But I decided I was going to try to live nobly for my parents’ name and honor. If anything good came out of [the accident], I think it’s that I’ve learned to care and respect people differently than I would have.”
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What’s your reaction to hearing how Briles persevered through difficulty? As a result of this adversity, what life lessons do you think the coach is able to pass along to his players? Do you think his success at turning around struggling programs is related to what he’s come through? If so, explain.
What are some different ways people cope with hard times or crises? When life gets tough, why is it so easy to get sidetracked? How can we avoid going down a wrong path when we’re hurting or filled with despair?
Think of something for which you’ve felt guilty for a long time. What effects has that guilt had on your self-esteem? on your relationship with other people? on your relationship with God? How can you let go of the guilt and move on?
If all things are possible with God, why do situations often seem so impossible? Why do you think God allows tragedy to happen—especially to Christians? How might these trials be a sign of God’s love for us, or a way for him to show his love to us?
What good have you seen come out of a painful experience in your own life? How did it change your priorities, attitudes, or faith?
If people don’t want to talk about stuff when they’re hurting, what are some other ways you can express your love and concern?
Are you confident that God has a purpose and a plan for your life? What can you do if that seems fuzzy—or if roadblocks appear in what you thought was your plan?
Scripture links: Job 1:12-22; Proverbs 3:5-6; Jeremiah 29:10-14; Luke 1:37; Romans 8:31-39; and Philippians 4:10-19.