Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love.
Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.”
Ephesians 5:1-2 (The Message)
Dick Enberg, legendary and respected sportscaster, said it well:
“His greatness was only exceeded by his goodness.”
John Wooden’s passing on June 4th, just a few short weeks ago, to take his place within that great cloud of witnesses with his Heavenly Father, was quietly and respectfully observed throughout the nation and world. He left a legacy that will never be matched in both the arena of basketball he so dearly loved, and also in the lives of everyone everywhere his path crossed theirs—lives he so dearly loved.
Coach Wooden was born October 14, 1910 near Martinsville, Indiana on a farm that didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing. From that humble beginning he became a three-time All-American basketball player at Purdue University and a member of the 1932 Purdue Boilermaker National Championship team. As head coach at UCLA he led his teams to seven consecutive national championships while notching ten in all. The greatest of the great basketball coaches consider him to be the greatest basketball coach of all-time.
But not just for his accomplishments on the hard-court. But it was also for the impact he made in the lives of his family, players, coaches, students, teachers and administrators, fans and all who were touched by this man who taught them that life was so much more than wins, awards and things. His day-to-day life was a reflection of the words he shared with his players and all who would listen:
· “People who win at life know God intimately, and they know He only wants a few things from them…to do everything to His glory by being efficient with all He has given us.”
· “Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
· “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
· “What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as a basketball player.”
· “Material possessions, winning scores, and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord, because He knows what we really are and that is all that matters.”
· “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
Our world has lost a great man of God in Coach John Wooden. A.W. Tozer once wrote that “when a great man of God dies, nothing of God dies.” Of course, we all know that to be true. But we can’t help but wonder—who will stand in the gap to touch and lift lives for God as Coach John Wooden once did? It’s a question which often crosses our minds when some of the great saints who have walked among us, pass into eternity.
At the Memorial Service held a few days ago at Pauley Pavilion on the campus of UCLA before four thousand who came to honor this man’s life and legacy, one of Coach Wooden’s players, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (formerly Lew Alcindor) shared this insight:
“Many people have asked me if Coach Wooden was for real. They wanted to know if he really didn’t use foul language or really didn’t tell his teams they had to win a specific game. I’m aware how cynical the world has become. Coach’s value system was from another era, it was developed in an America that has passed on.”
Another player, in a voice choked with tears, shared this about Coach Wooden: “He believed in hopelessly out-of-date stuff that never did anything but win championships.”
If we look around at our nation we can understand his comment. In so many places so many of the values which Coach Wooden brought with him from the farmlands of the Midwest to the shores of UCLA—seemed to have “passed on.” But remember for a moment that they are eternal and Godly values, and as Tozer reminds us “when a great man of God dies, nothing of God dies.”
They are values which we as a people and nation need to find, dust off, reclaim and embrace for every day and every step of the rest of our lives and the lives of those around us.
Who will do it?
Who will stand in the gap as Coach Wooden, and so many others like him, have done throughout the years. Who will restore the values to our lives, and to those around us and our nation?
A husband or a wife? Maybe a mother or a father of children needing courage, encouragement and an advocate to face peer pressure, secular temptations and lessening societal morals? Maybe a coach or an athlete who understands that others watch what they do? Maybe an employer or co-worker? Maybe a pastor who remembers the sacredness of the pulpit when you share the Word of God?
Maybe it simply starts with you and with me.
No maybe about it! It starts with us.
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2010. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.