*Blitz: noun\blitz\a: blitzkrieg, an intensive all-out attack or campaign…b: a sudden overwhelming bombardment…c: a rush of the passer-by a defensive linebacker, back, or end in football.
**LIFT: Life Is For Transformation.
There are numerous sports books out today that share game winning advice with you. Jeff Kemp’s new book “Facing the Blitz” is in a different league altogether. Over the years, Jeff has become a blitz-ologist. (Can’t find definition in dictionary?). Each thought-provoking and often dramatic scenario draws you closer to understanding what it takes to become your best self. But not in that self-centered, ego-centric way. Jeff shares about the importance of investing in other’s thus building strong, healthy, God-centered relationships.
Jeff spent 11 quarterback seasons in the tumultuous NFL; playing for the Rams, the 49ers, the Seahawks and the Eagles. . His relationships with God, wife Stacy, and 4 sons are his greatest passion and reason for his desire to build energetic, purpose-driven families. . This book is for anyone who dares to care enough to make a genuine impact on other people’s lives and in the process capturing their own true identity. It’s about thinking long term and not about the quick fixes. It’s not a book about the past… it’s about the present and the future (Warning: Don’t read this book if life hasn’t thrown you any punches to the gut.)
Before we get to your book, can you tell us what it was like to play professional football in the shadows of your very famous quarterback and politician father, Jack Kemp?
I think the toughest part of the climb for me was coming from an underdog, small school (Dartmouth) situation. My dad did a great job of keeping expectations where they should have been. I, on the other hand, put a lot of pressure on myself. You don’t just get a spot on a team because daddy was a great QB. That doesn’t mean a thing when you get in that huddle.
Have you ever had a desire to follow in your father’s footsteps and go into politics?
Growing up in the Kemp household and choosing to major in economics would make you think so. I have had inklings and many people have asked me this through the years. But I don’t have that raw love of politics and policy that dad had. He really wanted to affect laws in order to give people hope in prosperity. I prefer to concentrate on families… starting with my own. I wanted to be there to coach my boy’s teams and be present. My passion now is helping marriages and families to thrive, helping men find their identity and find solutions to problems in a world that is undercutting true love and the essentials of family.
Please share about role models in your life?
My father has always been about underdogs and was extremely good at “lifting”** people’s sight, vision, confidence, and initiative. My mom Joanne’s personality certainly has had great influence on me. She is all about the personal. Connecting and encouraging people and relationships. I also remember Chuck Obremski, Chaplin of the L.A. Rams in my book. He was a huge inspiration in my life. He taught Scripture, loved well and became one of my best friends. He was instrumental in helping both Stacy and me in our spiritual growth. His blitz was cancer. He died with no fear. Just joy of what was to come. He delighted in ‘fighting the good fight’ and pointing people to the real King and lasting Kingdom.
How important were Christian Youth Groups in your life?
Extremely important! I was mentored by small group leaders and learned much to shape my faith through bible studies and retreats. I gained some solid head knowledge, had several uplifting emotional spiritual retreats and got a good “flavor” of Christ.
You say that your success in college left you feeling empty. Can you share more about that?
Of course. I had a knowledge and strong belief in Christ but I was more focused on success, popularity and all that comes with being a college quarterback. I wanted God mainly as an ingredient in my success formula. Jeff was my purpose. Things went well…very well eventually. But, I was empty. God wanted way more for me. He wants to love us and for us to surrender to who He wants us to be. I have found that real joy comes when you let Him own your life, and find yourself serving others.
You and Stacy have a wonderful marriage. How did you two get involved in marriage and family ministry together?
Well, we were having our own set of struggles in marriage. From the outside, everything looked perfect. My pro football career, we were blessed with great kids right away and we were committed to each other. But… it wasn’t fun. Our personalities are so extremely different except for the part where we are both dominant leader types. Both of us were 100% committed to God and we realized we had to conscientiously work on our marriage. We became involved in marriage conferences, watched videos, read books, and were mentored by older couples. We found ourselves surrounded by people reaching out to us who genuinely cared, were fun, interesting and most definitely, not preachy. Now this is what married couples really need. (It is important to note that people have no interest in being mentored by someone fake or seemingly perfect.) Soon we were doing learning and growing enough that we had to share it with others! We started inviting couples on the team to our house, neighborhood friends and church friends as well. Soon our pastor asked us to help in the ‘young married’ class at our church.
As a father of 4 boys, do you have any advice about raising kids in a difficult culture?
The main thing to keep in mind when raising kids is that they feel loved and validated, that they learn their identity is secure in God’s love and their parent’s eyes. Play with your kids. Build an energetic, fun relationship with them on their terms…what they’re interested in vs. what you are interested in. Inject a hyper-dosage of fun whether it be around music, sports, hiking, board games, etc. Enjoy them! Your children are more apt to adopt your values and faith if you lovingly do this. Preaching at them is not a winner.
Be sure to model love in your marriage. Date each other, be affectionate, resolve conflicts in front of your children. By truly loving your spouse, your children will develop a healthy sense of security. (Note: Jeff gives a beautiful example in his book about a divorced father that modelled love to his ex-wife thus impacting his daughters view on what kind of man she truly wants to marry herself. This book by no means leaves out divorced or single people.)
Can you tell us about “Family Life”, your position there, and groups that you have worked with?
Family Life is a Christian organization that is devoted to supporting and mentoring families and couples to grow strong together. My official title is Vice President and catalyst for helping others. I spend the majority of my time networking and speaking on how to strengthen marriages and families to many groups like men’s conferences, churches, and marriage conferences. I network with groups like the Fatherhood CoMission, National Coalition of Ministries to Men, Pro Athletes Outreach, Athletes in Action, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Jack Kemp Foundation.
For more information go to: www.familylife.com
Let’s talk about your new book “Facing the Blitz”. Can we start with an explanation of “the blitz”?
A blitz occurs when the defensive team attacks the offense with significantly more players than normal. This can be very bad or very good for the offense. It’s both dangerous and an opportunity. The key is being ready for it. A well-prepared offense looks for the blitz anticipates it and adapts to it. Some of the best scores come from plays that adapt to these intense situations. A bad thing can turn into a good thing if you’re prepared.
Why write this book and what do you hope it will accomplish for your readers?
So people can gain a strategy. Bad things happen, people face problems… whether it is personal, health, marriage, financial. People like football stories and metaphors. My hope is to teach through stories and help people strategize to face the blitzes that come their way. I want to help them make a positive impact on others. It’s about Turning negatives to positives and sharing with others.
What do you feel is your mission in life?
My highest priority in life is to intentionally love and uplift my God, my wife, and my family. I want God’s presence and love to fuel my life so that I may lift and unite other people to invest in relationships, teamwork, and family.
What advice for overcoming a complicated world do you detail in your FACING THE BLITZ?
The book goes over 3 simple principles or strategies.
Take a long-term view. (No quickie short term fixes)
Be willing to change. (Not about just hoping circumstances or others will change for you.)
Reach out to others. (Take your focus off yourself and focus on blessing others.)
Although those strategies sound simple, they are not easy to practice unless we see life through paradigm-shifting lenses. Team, not solo. Investor in relationships, not consumer. Connected to a power source greater than self.
To find out about the book, or sign up for Jeff’s free weekly 1-minute videos, please go to:
Here’s a recent video: http://www.facingtheblitz.com/investors-consumers-jeff-kemp/