"What men want to know, everywhere I go, is how they can succeed too," Gibbs writes in "Game Plan for Life: Your Personal Playbook for Success."
"And they're not just talking about becoming rich and famous or winning trophies. They want to be happy. They want to be good husbands and fathers, good people. They want to find true success and relevance in their lives."
Gibbs has been in the company of other men his entire life. He has played sports almost from the moment he could walk. He had a brother and, with his wife Pat, has two sons. He coached the Washington Redskins for 12 seasons, leading the team to eight playoff appearances, four NFC Championship titles en route to his three Super Bowl rings. In 2010, he was named NASCAR Illustrated magazine's Person of the Year reflecting the respect he also has earned in motor sports.
"I know men," Gibbs writes. "Life's not easy for them these days. Wherever I go -- on business or for speaking engagements, sporting events or whatever -- I run into guys who all seem to have the same questions and challenges. I can relate to these men because I've faced many of the same issues in my own life."
Describing himself as an average Joe, Gibbs notes: "Forget what you might have seen or read in the media, or anything else you might have heard; I'm not that different from you.
"Here's why. Maybe I've got a nice resume and have created some really special memories, but the best -- and hardest -- lessons I've learned in my life have come from failures, my own shortcomings and buying into some of the biggest myths our modern society has to tell."
If Game Plan for Life and its accompanying resources can help men avoid some of the mistakes he has made, Gibbs said, "I'll consider it a success."
In preparation for writing Game Plan for Life, Gibbs retained a research firm to survey a cross-section of American men about the top issues they face as well as subjects they want to know more about in their search for success.
Gibbs said the survey was necessary to confirm his notions of what men are interested in and to uncover other topics concerning men that he had not considered. And Gibbs wanted to gain insight into how men viewed spiritual concepts so he could communicate clearly about God and His ultimate game plan for life.
A third-party research firm in Washington surveyed 700 randomly selected men in 2008, asking 97 questions about key life issues. One-third of the men were nonreligious, one-third had some religious influence in their lives and one-third were interested in growing spiritually. The respondents included 100 pastors, priests and elders, selected randomly from national church lists.
The sampling confirmed 11 key issues that became the focus of Game Plan for Life: the Bible, God, creation, salvation, sin/addiction, finances, relationships, vocation, health, purpose and heaven.
LifeWay Christian Resources released Vol. 1 of the "Game Plan for Life" group edition in July 2010 designed for laymen to lead each other in exploring the first six issues that surfaced in the survey.
The kit's resources include "team training" (group Bible study), individual training (personal Bible study), Gibbs' Game Plan for Life hardcover trade book, a DVD and CD-ROM. The DVD relays six teaching segments with Gibbs and host Derwin Gray, a former NFL player and lead pastor of Transformation Church in Fort Mill, S.C.
Gibbs calls on other experts to help lead the DVD discussions and write part of the corresponding chapters in the book: Ron Blue on finances; Ken Boa on the doctrine of God; John Lennox on creation; Josh McDowell on how the Bible is the ultimate playbook; Ravi Zacharias on sin and addiction; and Chuck Colson on the doctrine of salvation.
"The purpose of this resource is to call men to deeper, spiritual ways," said Phil Davis, a marketing strategist for LifeWay.
"Gibbs has assembled experts -- 'assistant coaches' as he calls them -- to help explain the issues more clearly," Davis said. "The experts communicate in a down-to-earth way that we can relate to and understand."
Vol. 2 of Game Plan for Life releases this summer, focusing on the remaining five issues from the survey as part of a lineup LifeWay will release on godly masculinity in the coming years.
Stephen Howard, who led a class for 15 men through Game Plan for Life at Riverbluff Church in North Charleston, S.C., recounted, "The connection of football and NASCAR grabs men's interest and makes them feel relaxed and comfortable enough to talk about elements that they face every day."
The group enjoyed the video talks Joe Gibbs "and they also liked the experts and their take on each element," Howard said.
Small-group Bible studies like Game Plan for Life encourage stronger men's ministries, Howard added.
"I believe that men's ministry is important to help good men be better men," he said. "We need to stand together and battle together. Men's ministry leads to a strong spiritual family. It also helps them find accountability partners and develop a group of men they can rely on to help them through the hard times."
Riverbluff pastor Curt Bradford agreed, describing Game Plan for Life as "a great discipling idea. It brings together great Christian minds using sports to present Christian truth to guys."
Kelly Shrout is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tenn. "Game Plan for Life" is available at LifeWay.com. Visit www.LifeWay.com/GamePlan to learn more about Joe Gibbs Racing and his ministry to men.
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