Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
“But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.”
Exodus 4: 10 (ESV)
Ever wonder how many caps you have worn at different times during the course of your life? I’m a baseball coach, among other things, with an extensive collection of hundreds of baseball caps, but that’s not what I am referring to.
What I mean is—how many roles, how many different platforms of impact and influence do you occupy? Father, mother, son, daughter, grandparent, coach, teacher, pastor, friend, employer and employee, and many others. And are you aware of them? Do you recognize the individual importance of each one in your life? Maybe, like Moses in the passage above, you don’t feel adequate to be in that role, standing on that particular platform, to make a difference.
In his New York Times Best-selling memoir, “Quiet Strength,” written with Nathan Whitaker, Tony Dungy paints one of the best examples of being aware of the platforms God has given you, and being ready for still others which will tend to come your way when you least expect them, and even when you may feel inadequate to handle them. Such a platform moment unfolded involving Tony when he was a teenager in high school—at the time when he was playing both football and basketball after classes.
Tony’s high school football coach, Coach Driscoll, had done something related to the selection of team captains at the end of the season of his junior year, with the result being that one of Tony’s friends was not chosen as a captain. Whatever it was it had made a seventeen year old Tony Dungy angry enough to quit the Parkside High School football team, even though Tony had himself been selected as one of the team captains.
And so with his decision to quit, he realized that he wouldn’t play football his final and senior year, and for all intents and purposes his football career would be over. A few other players had also agreed with his position on the matter, and so they, too, followed him in that departure from the squad. He was going to hang up football and simply play basketball—which was his favorite sport anyway.
Turning the pages of the calendar back a few years, when Tony was in junior high school, there was an African-American school administrator by the name of Leroy Rocquemore in what was predominately a white junior high school which was being integrated at the time. Mr. Rocquemore was great with all the students, but in particular, he wanted to make sure that African-American young men who were now attending the school not only felt welcome, but that they also grew and matured as people and students.
And so he would use that platform as a school administrator to get to know Tony and some of the other students by having lunch with them in the cafeteria on occasion.
As a result of spending time with them, the students got to know Mr. Roquemore and came to realize that he cared for them. And so a few years later when Tony was attending Parkside High School, and made his decision to quit the football team, Mr. Rocquemore had earned Tony’s trust enough to be able to call him and tell him that he wanted to talk to him about that decision. He knew that Tony would be open to listening to him, simply because Tony and he had built a relationship a few years earlier during Tony’s junior high school years.
At the end of their conversation, Tony had changed his mind. Mr. Roquemore had made a compelling case for Tony and the others to return to the football team. He had anticipated Tony would see the light, and had already arranged a meeting for Tony to speak with Coach Driscoll. And Tony did in fact speak with Coach about his decision, and asked him if he could return. As a result, he was reinstated to the team, along with the other players who had also quit when he did.
Mr. Rocquemore had used his platform as administrator to befriend a group of students, which established a relationship of trust between them. His platform as a school administrator in a small school in Jackson, Michigan, with a group of students known only to their families and some other students and teachers in that school, might seem small to the world. But to Mr. Roquemore, it was a platform that he recognized which was before him to positively influence a young man by helping him to make a different and better decision at that point in his life.
Without Mr. Roquemore putting on his cap, and stepping up on his platform of impact that day, more than likely Tony Dungy would have stopped playing football, and more than likely would have not played in college at the University of Minnesota. It would logically follow, that he would not then have played a few years in the National Football League, would never have coached in the NFL, and would never have had the opportunity to be the first African-American head coach to lead his team—the Indianapolis Colts—to a Super Bowl Championship with their victory over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI.
More importantly, as Tony would point out, is that without Mr. Rocquemore taking seriously his available, albeit seemingly small, platform of impact before him on the day when Tony quit the team, Tony would not have had the opportunity to stand on the Super Bowl post-game platform, and share a saving message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ before a viewing audience from all around the world estimated to be over one-hundred million people.
What platforms has God given you with which to make a difference? Don’t worry about the size of your platforms or whether you feel adequate to handle them; just be aware of who and what God is placing before you in your life to impact, with one of your platforms of influence—and let God do the rest. He will!
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2014. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.