Does success drive redemption?The Michael Vick story is an interesting one (probably, a great understatement). With his recent success on the football field, fans are happy; Vick jersey sales are up; and full forgiveness may be around the corner. Is redemption driven by being successful?

There are variations on the definition of redemption. One that seems most appropriate is:

Improving of something:  the act of saving something or somebody from a declined, dilapidated, or corrupted state and restoring it, him, or her to a better condition (according to Bing)

The first part of the definition is the act of saving. In the Michael Vick case, the act of saving includes at least three chapters:

Chapter 1 – Admitting guilt: Michael Vick admitted guilt and served his time in prison.

Chapter 2 – Asking for forgiveness: Michael Vick asked for forgiveness and took responsibility.

“I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding as I move forward to bettering Michael Vick the person, not the football player.

“I take full responsibility for my actions. For one second will I sit right here — not for one second will I sit right here and point the finger and try to blame anybody else for my actions or what I’ve done.

“… I accepted responsibility for my actions of what I did and now I have to pay the consequences for it. But in a sense, I think it will help, you know, me as a person.

“Once again, I offer my deepest apologies to everyone. And I will redeem myself. I have to.” (August 2007)

Chapter 3 – Accepting guidance: Michael Vick received sound guidance from a great mentor leader, Tony Dungy.

Tony Dungy: “What I look for, [is] ‘What do you want to do from here?’ That’s something my dad used to tell me all the time. When you’re in a situation you can complain about it, you can feel sorry for yourself, you can do a lot of things. But how are you gonna make the situation better?” (September 2009)

For the most part, Michael Vick seems to have remained focused on changing, doing better, and listening to the sound advice given. There was a potential glitch, but it has passed without any personal implications.

These chapters have turned, and a new one began last season with the Philadelphia Eagles. Even with that, people were not necessarily all forgiving and accepting yet. During the Green Bay game a few weeks ago, however, the transformation, or redemption, happened.  The starting quarterback, Kevin Kolb, left the game with a concussion, and Michael Vick took over with style and energy. The crowd was enthralled.

With Michael Vick as quarterback, the next game was even better, especially since the team won. Later that week, after the Coach said the Kevin Kolbe would start the following game, there was a not-so-quiet undertone of “are you crazy?” Michael Vick’s performance on the field cleared the memories of many people, and his redemption was maybe, mostly complete.

So, the three chapters mentioned above are important in being redeemed with a few added elements included. The principles for redemption may be then:

  • Admitting guilt and accepting the consequences of making bad decisions
  • Asking for forgiveness and really meaning it, as well as waiting for the acceptance
  • Gaining guidance from a mentor and truly learning from them
  • Being patient, waiting for the right time to shine again
  • Winning, achieving success in whatever you do
  • Keeping on the right path, humbly and thoughtfully – always doing your best without having success overshadow good judgment

People can change. A splash of success will facilitate the redemptive process, but the story continues. The second part of the redemption definition is restoring… to a better condition.

Success in life’s field of play creates a refreshed feeling and excitement for the people watching. This feeling can quickly evaporate if betrayed. If a later chapter involves a new series of bad decisions, then redemption will be lost quickly.

The expectation for redemption is being better as one goes forward. A “better condition” is a high standard which must be kept on and off the field.

The key points are: Redemption happens, and success may accelerate the process. The cautionary tale is redemption may be fleeting if bad choices return. Live your redeemed life in a better condition and with higher standards.

What principles do you think facilitate a person’s full redemption? Join the conversation.