Chad Hennings is best known for his role with America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys. Chad’s successes began long before his professional football career. During his four-year stint with the Air Force, he flew 45 missions in northern Iraq, received two aerial achievement medals, a humanitarian award, and an outstanding unit award for his actions in the service. After his honorable discharge, Hennings joined the Dallas Cowboys, quickly earning a starting position as a defensive lineman. He spent his entire 9-year professional football career with the Cowboys, retiring in 2001 with three Super Bowl rings.
Peace: You postponed going into the draft to fulfill your commitment with the Air Force, but how did it feel to be drafted by the Cowboys?
Chad: It was bittersweet knowing that I wasn’t going to play. I wanted to play in the NFL, but because of my commitment to my country and joy of flying jets, I had to decline. It was really tough, since I was being torn from both sides. Luckily I was able to fulfill my commitment when our armed forces downsized after the first Gulf War and still get the opportunity to play for the Dallas Cowboys.
Peace: How was your relationship with God during this time, especially since you were able to get out of your commitment with the Air Force early?
Chad: My relationship with Him was the one thing that sustained me. My faith helped me keep my commitment to the Air Force, because of the morals and values —to be a godly person, a man of your word — requires us to make sacrifices, personal sacrifices. As a Christian you have to put away your personal agendas, make them secondary to what your desires are. My faith walk and who I was as a person helped to define my personal identity as a Christian individual that helped me during the process.
Peace: Do you remember the moment you decided to give your life over to God and follow Jesus?
Chad: I always believed in God, because of the upbringing my parents instilled in me. I was one of those kids who was raised in a Christian home, but my faith never became personal to me until later in life — particularly when my son became sick. This all happened while I was playing with the Cowboys. I struggled with who God was and how to deal with the adversity. It was during this time that I really tried to become the man God wanted me to be, that’s when the faith my parents instilled in me became personal and not superficial.
Peace: You mentioned your son, Chase, who had a life-threatening condition. How did this test your faith and how did you grow in your faith?
Chad: Like all lessons in life, I grew close with God through the hardship and the pain. I learned more going through that experience with Chase than I did winning any Super Bowl or success in life. I think that’s why God allows us to go through those painful moments, to realize who we are and learn not to rely on our own strength, but to totally give it over to Him. For me it truly was when I realized who Christ was in my life. It was difficult balancing everything going on in my life at the time. It’s only through His grace alone that changed my whole perspective of the world.”
Peace: You were a member of the Dallas Cowboys and won three Super Bowls in four years. You’ve had some amazing things happen in your life. What would you consider to be the most successful moment in your life?
Chad: The word success can be a very interchangeable term and success means different things to different people. For me it truly was when I realized who Christ was in my life. I was able to put into perspective all the things that I had done in my life and that’s when I realized I am a child of God; That by no feats, works, strengths, or abilities of my own could I be saved. It’s only through, His grace. That point changed my whole perspective of the world.
Peace: Do you have any advice you would give to young athletes who are trying to exceed in the sports world?
Chad: My advice to kids is to put life in perspective, that your individual sport is not an identity as to who you are. Don’t gauge your success in life based upon how well you perform on the field. True success is having an identity with Christ. Regardless of what profession that you choose — that’s what you do, not who you are. Draw a line in the sand that your identity is in Christ. That is the foundational principle that your energies are built upon. Once you have that figured out, the rest of life flows.
Peace: You’re a very well-known man, you’re running multiple businesses, writing books, and a motivational speaker. How do you keep God first in your life?
Chad: First and foremost by studying His word, and engaging with relationships with godly friends. I am active in my local church, but I also realize that my purpose in the world isn’t only to be serving and worshipping Him only within the four walls of a church building. As Christians we need to have the mentality of being that special operations soldier that is out in the world making an impact by being the salt and light that God is calling each of us to be.
To learn more about Chad Hennings or to read his book visit, chadhennings.com for more information.
article by Ariel Rosentswieg