I often wonder if people are guided through life by an inner calling, or are they moved along a pathway toward great accomplishments by those who have influence over them.
If your parents provided you with good role models, they were giving you the formula for achievement. How you respond to the stimuli of your surroundings is the difference between failure and success.
Take the case of a man who grew up in a small town in Iowa and rose to become a state wrestling champ and an all-state football player. After being offered full scholarships from different universities he chose to attend the United States Air Force Academy. Upon graduating with honors in 1988, he entered undergraduate pilot training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, as part of the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program. He became an A-10 pilot and was assigned to the 92d Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS), a unit of the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing based at RAF Bentwaters in the United Kingdom in June 1990.
While with the 92d TFS, Chad Hennings deployed twice to the Persian Gulf. From April to June 1991, and October 1991 to January 1992, based at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, he flew 45 A-10 missions in support of Operation Provide Comfort, an effort that helped provide relief and humanitarian aid to Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq. He was twice awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal, a humanitarian award and an Outstanding Unit Award for his actions in the service. He was promoted to captain on June 1, 1992.
Although drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1989, he finished his commitment to the Air Force before joining the team in 1992 as a 27-year-old rookie. Chad’s fame on the gridiron is well-established and doesn’t need to be repeated here. Suffice to say that he earned three Super Bowl rings with the Dallas Cowboys as a defensive lineman.
On the personal side, Chad is married, has two children and lives in Flower Mound. Following his football career he became a Christian motivational speaker and author. His character-building book for men, “Rules of Engagement: Finding Faith and Purpose in a Disconnected World,” was published in 2009.
As a guest at our home for breakfast recently, Chad talked about his Christian faith and how his Air Force experience taught him structure. He stresses the values of religion training and how it can form the foundation of success in one’s life.
“What I try to share with kids is to maintain a balance in life,” Hennings said. “Translated, this means success does not necessarily come through monetary gain, or peer status, or social status. It comes from within you; who you are and how people view your character, your morals, your values. That’s what has carried me through my career as an Air Force officer, as a Cowboy, as a father, as a husband, as a Christian. The whole nine yards!” he added. When Chad talks about Christianity his devotion is evident in every fervently uttered syllable.
Putting his faith into action, Chad founded Wingmen Ministries, a men’s ministry in the North Texas area that strives to help men form strong friendships and support one another as they grow in their faith and live out their Christian lives. Wingmen Varsity (WV), modeled after Wingmen, is a ministry that mentors 6th to 12th grade young men of faith to form a relationship with Jesus Christ and to strengthen their spiritual growth. Based on the Wingmen core values of Acceptance, Affirmation and Accountability, WV does not replace the church experience; it focuses on encouraging and empowering a fulfilled relationship in Jesus Christ through fellowship. Marcus High School’s Marauder Stadium will be the venue for a WV event on Wednesday, November 20, at 7 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend and meet Chad and other WV speakers.
The time my wife and I spent with Chad could be viewed as a motivational seminar and a chapter and verse lesson from the Scriptures. This is a man who lives his life according to the principles set forth in the Bible and can answer questions confidently without a hint of proselytizing in his demeanor. There’s just something about being in the company of a true believer that brings one’s own faith into focus. He combines an obvious capacity for physical strength with a soft-spoken abundance of spiritual tenacity.
One of my favorite passages from his book reads: “All I have is my word. All I have is my character. If I compromise that, I’ll never gain it back. It’s gone forever. It’s as true in business as it is in war that you have to be able to trust, and if you’re going to trust, you have to be trustworthy as well.”
In addition to his many other ventures, Chad is a principal in Rubicon Representation, LLC, a commercial real estate firm in Dallas. Moreover, in November 2012, he was named as a 2013 recipient of the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award, presented each year to six distinguished former college student-athletes on the 25th anniversary of the completion of their college sports careers.
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor. In addition, Bob has 7 published books that include “Murder in Black and White,” “City to Die For,” “Powers that Be,” “Ruthie’s Kids,” “Deadly to Love,” “Short Stories of Life and Death” and “Out of Sight,” all of which can be found on Amazon.com and other major online bookstores.