Bogged Down in the Red Zone?

Excerpted from Every Man Ministries by Kenny Luck

Every fall, like the swallows that return to the San Juan Capistrano Mission not far from our Southern California home, our family makes its annual return to the Rose Bowl, where the UCLA Bruins play their home football games. From the opening kickoff, I always edge up in my bleacher seat when the Bruins reach the red zone, that patch of grass between the twenty-yard line and the goal line. Everyone knows UCLA has a great chance to score when they reach that zone. The offense is in full attack mode while the defense stiffens in a do-or-die effort to hold the Bruins to a field-goal attempt. As my father-in-law likes to say, ‘It’s mano a mano in the RZ’, and he’s right. The red zone is all about the heart and desire to drive the ball all the way in.

I’ve long felt that the red zone is an apt metaphor for our spiritual journeys. Early on, we think we’re moving the ball for God, but it’s really more like losing a few yards here and gaining a few there. As we spiritually mature and reach the red zone ‘ where we can score against Satan and for the kingdom ‘ all too often we fail to get the ball all the way in. For one reason or another, we never completely reach full attack mode. We lose focus, Satan gets us too busy, we fall into sin, or we lack the experience to make the right call in a hotly contested domain of our lives.

You don’t want to be in a hurry-up offense when you’re in the red zone. But all too often we live in a rush, rush, rush, shoving aside the time to read God’s Word or invest in relationships with other Christian men or volunteer for God’s work. For many men, this lack of time is a major source of disconnection. One guy in the church where I teach a men’s bible study spoke for thousands of others when he told me, ‘I’m always running late! I wake up late, I leave the house late, and I arrive at work a little late ‘ really late if the traffic is bad. I must not be prioritizing my time well.’

Far too many men do not give themselves
fully to being God’s man.
It’s like going three-and-out in a football game.


In football, a blitz is intended to distract and disrupt the opposing offense. In life, Satan has been calling in spiritual blitzes on each of us. ‘Hurry the man’ is one of his most effective drive-stuffers for men in the red zone. Or he may blitz our thought life, leaving our offense spinning its wheels in muddy sensuality. Whatever it takes, he’ll blitz us with any behavior or distraction that limits us to no gain or the equivalent of spiritual field goals instead of touch downs.

So what can be done about it?

Like a good football team, we must read the blitz and adjust. Look, I’ve been sacked more than once in the red zone. More important, I’ve fumbled away my intimacy with God by choosing my own way rather than adjusting according to the gifts and the training He’s given me.

I started Every Man Ministries in 1999 to help other men in their spiritual walks and in building better marriages and strong families. That quest has taken me to every part of the country, where I’ve spoken before thousands of men at various men’s conferences. When I’m home in Southern California, I sit down each week with one hundred men to study God’s Word, which often leads to numerous counseling sessions. The chance to be a listening ear, offer advice, and pray with these men has been an awesome privilege. As a pastor friend once said: ‘If you reach a man, then you reach every relationship he has.’

All of this man-to-man experience has convinced me that far too many men do not give themselves fully to being God’s man. It’s like going three-and-out in a football game; they make three lackluster attempts to run or pass the ball, then they punt away their opportunity. Next month we’ll talk about getting back in the ‘zone mode.’

For more help on this subject, see Every Man’s Battle.