When it was announced that “Rudy” Ruettiger would be speaking at our church this weekend, I thought we’d hear more about his fabled journey to Notre Dame Stadium. We even watched the movie last night with our girls. He didn’t disappoint the football fans, but he shared much more than that.

Here are three new lessons that Rudy shared tonight. I think they’re even more powerful than the previous ones.

1. Leadership reflects what you do, not what you say.

As a parent, this is a relevant reminder. We can talk to our kids until we’re blue in the face, but that matters little if our actions don’t line up.

The same is true for anyone we hope to lead, and even those we don’t even know we’re leading. Someone is always watching.

. . . Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.
-1 John 3:18

2. One thought can stop you.

I’ve been a student of positive psychology for years, and I’ve never heard this concept captured so succinctly. Our thoughts really do matter, and one “goofy thought” (as Rudy calls them) can stop you dead in your tracks.

If you let it take root, one thought can discourage you, derail you, and cause you to make poor choices that take you away from your goals. For this, it’s important to have a good defense that prevents negative influences and a good offense that supports positive messages.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
-Proverbs 4:23

3. When the journey gets hard, don’t ask someone else for permission to fail.

Ouch. This one hit home with me.

Often, we know we’re knee deep in our calling, where the going gets tough. Instead of hanging in there and enduring the pain, we look to those around us for permission to quit. Of course they’ll endorse that thinking. They can’t possibly understand the mission we’re on – because it likely isn’t their mission.

Plus, quitting makes us more “normal” anyway. It’s safer there.

Instead, let’s maintain our faith in Him.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. -Galatians 6:9


Update: Here’s the video of his talk. Enjoy!