Throwback Thursday time this week brings us to the Miami Dolphins. John Offerdahl is the subject of the post. Offerdahl was drafted in the second round of the 1986 draft (#52 0verall). He would play 8 years in the NFL, all with the Dolphins and is listed at in this columns at phins.com as one of the top players in team history. (He is #25)
Five times he was named to the Pro Bowl including in his rookie season when he started at Inside Linebacker. He also won the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 1986. He retired in 1994 after injuries reduced his time on the field the three previous years. He is a member of the Dolphins Ring of Honor.
Since the end of his playing days, Offerdahl has moved into the world of food. This November he will host the 7th annual Gridiron Grill-Off Food and Wine Festival . The event raises funds for many charities in Florida that work provide homes for children in crisis, scholarships to students interested in culinary and hospitality careers, and food banks around the USA. Offerdahl’s passion for food has come along since his retirement and can be seen in his chain of fast-casual restaurants called Offerdahl’s Cafe Grill. But where did the desire to mesh food and charity together come from? When Offerdahl attended a Lifework Leadership class hosted by the National Christian Foundation, he was challenged to consider his significance and purpose in life. He asked himself “What is my significance, and how can I leverage what I do for eternal gain?”
In this article by the Sun-Sentinel, Offerdahl recounts his relationship with another charity – Sheridan house. where he played in a fund raising flag-football game and how it connected with his heart’s purpose. He says “They are serving the community in awesome ways, … and I believe in the values. They have very strong Christian values.” He continues saying “I guess you would say I am a very strong Bible-believing Christian, And I was looking for a ministry built on … Jesus Christ. While I was playing football [for Sheridan House], it turned into something more.”
This article from Calvary Chapel in Fort Lauderdale shares more about how Offerdahl came to faith in God. The Blog post reads “Growing up in Wisconsin with four older sisters and playing the French horn, John says, “I knew I needed God.” A stand-out football player at Western Michigan, John’s relationship with Christ deepened after he was drafted by the Dolphins and became a part of Pro Athletes Outreach (PAO) with fellow Dolphin Norm Evans. Early in my career I realized that although God had blessed me with certain gifts, I was just a ‘regular Joe’ in need of His grace and wisdom. In the business world, in my philanthropy, and in my daily life, I’m always looking for the balance between my faith and my environment.”
So being in a place where Offerdahl can connect faith, family football and food is a place where Offerdahl knows he was created to be. The article continues by saying “Foster care children and homeless families are close to God’s heart—and mine,” John says. “To bring together my top priorities in one event that leverages football, families, and food is incredible. This is where it all comes together for me
My takeaways from Offendahl’s story:
1- Leveraging – The article from Calvary lists a definition of leveraging as “an individual’s power of influence to accomplish an outcome” Offerdahl is using his leverage as a gifted food guy and former pro football player to help people in need and to share God’s love in his community and around the world. Ephesians 3.20 says “… Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” That verse chokes me up. I want to be used, I want to have a purpose but I am so flawed and weak. But that doesn’t matter. God is writing my story and making me part of His greater story. He is able to use us and our story and all the parts that make us who we are to impact the lives of people around us. I have a pretty good imagination and to think that He goes far beyond my imagination is an exciting thought. I love being a part of what God is doing. I pray that He continues to use my story and life as the leverage to help others know Him more.
2- Regular Joe – Because I am just a regular guy, no different or better than anyone else. I need forgiveness, grace and God’s love to change me. But now, having experienced that, I want to let others feel the joy and freedom that I have felt in knowing God’s forgiveness. Offerdahl talks about the same thing. It is true for all of us. How has God worked in your life? How have you experienced God’s offerings to deal with your failures and shortcomings. Now is the time to share your stories with other Regular Joes so they can meet the God who changes lives face to face. Let’s impact our world!