Jerry Leachman’s message given at The Center Men’s Breakfast at The Birmingham Country Club (BCC)
Get in the Game, Jerry Leachman, November 18, 2005
The guy came up and told me they were in the Auburn section and gave me one of those little orange tiger paws, little sticky things and said, you’re supposed to wear this on your cheek. I will wear it on my cheek, if you know … I just don’t know if it’ll be the right or the left one.
Well, it’s unbelievable seeing so many people here. I’m sure we have all kinds of faiths represented here. We can learn from one another, boys. One of my favorites, I’m sure you’ve heard, but I like it every time I tell it. There’s the one about these two nuns; these Godly nuns that worked in a nursing home and they went out to run a few errands. They were getting on down the trolley line, kind of elderly. I’d been with our president several times. By the way I heard why he was in a nursing home last year in Florida. His brother is the governor down there and he walked up to these two little old gals, and he didn’t want to startle them. I mean, he is the president. He said, excuse me, do you gals know who I am? They said, no, but if you don’t know who you are, you can go right out there to the front desk, and they’ll tell you. These nuns were getting on down the trolley line and they went out to run a few errands and ran out of gas, looked in the trunk, there was no five-gallon plastic gas can, nothing. What they did find was a few bed pans, so, they went and put some gasoline in these bed pans and they’re out there on the side of the road filling them up, with bed pans, and about that time two Baptist preachers come riding down the street, look out the window and see these Godly little nuns putting gasoline in their car out of bed pans, and one says to the other, brother you can say what you want to about the Catholics but that right there is what I call real faith. Even those Baptists know when they’re licked, don’t they?
Well, it’s unbelievable Richard has such a ministry he has friends like Luther Strange, who’s been an old friend of mine. I used to have Luther in a youth group. He says his last memory of me was going down a freeway to Tuscaloosa riding on the back of a motorcycle I was driving, doing about 80 miles an hour. I have no recollection of that whatsoever, but these two guys I’ve seen really grow in their faith and I tell you, I want to report in to you, the three of us went to one of the largest Bible conferences in the country last summer. It was quite an experience. I guess because Luther’s so tall they asked Luther to come up and open up this conference with prayer. All the great theologians and teachers were there. We don’t know how we got invited. Luther was on his way to the podium and Richard taps me on the shoulder and he said this is going to be a nightmare. I go, what’s the problem and he says, they’ve asked Luther to say the Lord’s Prayer. He doesn’t know the Lord’s Prayer. I said, oh come on, he goes to one of the finest Episcopalian churches in Birmingham. I’m sure they’ve said the Lord’s Prayer there before. He said, I’ll bet you twenty dollars he doesn’t know the Lord’s Prayer, and I said you’re on. About that time, Luther gets up to the podium, and he says, let us pray. Three hundred preachers and theologians bow their head. Luther begins to pray, twinkle, twinkle, little star how I wonder where you are. Wish I may, wish I might, have this wish, I wish tonight, Amen. Yeah, that’s right. They looked at him like you’re looking at me right now. Stunned silence. About that time, Richard tapped me on the shoulder again. I turned around and I saw a crisp twenty-dollar bill. He said, I can’t believe it. He got it word for word.
You know, good things happen when men gather around the name of Christ. Paul said in Ephesians that every person you’re around should feel built up just for having been around you. I have a goal that anybody I’m around would receive an ongoing dividend just for having been around me, to think about them, to serve them, to be a light to them, to point them towards Christ. One of my teachers was, he’s an old fellow with the Lord now, Dr. McFarland, told one time that he had a little farm in Kansas and there was a high school junior, Tim, that used to work for them from time to time, and they just loved having Timmy around the place and Timmy loved working on Dr. McFarland’s Farm. And Timmy came to Dr. McFarland one day and said you know my dad’s getting transferred down to Topeka. We’ll be coming by here in the U-Haul on Saturday. Dr. McFarland said, Timmy, what do we owe you? He said, well I’ve been keeping my hours. You owe me fifty dollars. He said, you stop by with your parents on Saturday and the Mrs. and I will have your fifty dollars and we’ll settle up with you. He said, okay.
Here’s a great lesson, one of our first little lessons of this morning. You know, sometimes to build people up, it’s not just doing the right thing by them, it’s doing the right thing in the right way, and it doesn’t take that much extra effort. Dr. McFarland went by the bank, and he got a crisp brand new 50-dollar bill. His wife went to the Franklin dime store and got one of those leather wallets with that little gimp weave around the outside of it and had the guy brand Tim, put his name right there on that wallet. It was one of those little wallets, you could zip it shut so your money wouldn’t fall out. They put that brand new 50 dollar bill into that wallet that cost about five dollars then the Mrs. wrapped it up in a beautiful package and Dr. McFarland, who had a PhD, he was the superintendent of Education in that part of Kansas, he was a very eloquent man, and he wrote a note addressed to Tim’s parents about what a fine young boy they were raising, how they looked forward with anticipation to keeping up with his life, to seeing what a fine man he would grow to be, and wanted to congratulate them and thank them for allowing their son to just help them out around the farm and how much they’d be missed. When the boy and his family came by, Dr. McFarland said, now don’t open this until you get about 10 miles down the road and have your mother read it to everybody in the car. Now that was a simple thing, didn’t take that much effort, but you know what? Their whole family received a blessing. I want to inspire you a little bit today to get creative, you know, to get off the sideline, to get on the field and get creative, and with the time you have left, the way you spend your life, when you’re around people, to build them up, to give them a lift, to be a blessing, to point them towards Christ. You know, every time that boy, if you think about it, looked at that wallet, no matter how many years he had it, he received an ongoing dividend, a continued blessing. I mean, this is really the way we can love people and show the love of Christ and just stop talking about it.
Now, there’s a couple in our neighborhood, I’ve known before they were married. I think they met in our living room. We used to be on the Young Life staff, and they were volunteer leaders for us and worked in a high school. Now they’re married with four kids. They helped us get our house in this neighborhood, and we love where we live and real estate’s gone up so much in Washington, it’s the most money I’ve ever made for doing nothing in my whole life, but it was their idea to check into this house. They knew the people, they knew everybody. They’re the kind of friends, everything we do, they cheer-lead for us. They’re happy about every good thing that happens to us. I’ve decided that’s one way to find out who your real friends are is when something really great happens to you, they really are excited. Other people are a little, well that’s real nice, you know, or they’ll gossip why you didn’t really deserve that.
Well, I decided I wanted to do something back for them. I was thinking about Dr. McFarland’s principle of an ongoing dividend, but being from Alabama, I know I’m in Washington, but I’m kind of an undercover blue-collar redneck, just basically running around teaching real smart people the Bible in Washington, but I’m not confused about who I am. One day I was over at their house, and I said, Donna, are there any stresses in your life, and she said, yeah, our toilet in the master bedroom, it clogs half the time you flush it. A light went on and I thought, you know what, I work on cars, and I do plumbing. I know the perfect solution to her problem. It’s the American Standard Cadet toilet. It is sold at Home Depot, and it is guaranteed to flush 25 golf balls and that impresses somebody like me. Some of you may have the American Cadet standard. It’s one of the joys in my life. I’ve got four. Tell me I’m not a wealthy man. I could flush a hundred golf balls all at the same time in my house if I wanted to. That’s great capacity, isn’t it guys? And I drive a pickup truck. You don’t think they let me in up there in Washington? It’s a big black Chevrolet four-wheel drive pickup truck. You know they’re going to let me in. NRA, redneck, he’s going to kill us, just let him in, you know. I show up with that toilet in the back of my truck the other day at Donna and Eric’s house and I went in and took their old toilet out and threw it in the back of the truck and I installed that brand new American Standard Cadet toilet, and I said, Donna this may not mean a lot to you, but this thing will flush 25 golf balls. Now, if y’all clog this up, don’t call me, you know. Just call your doctor or somebody. Man, every time I see her, she lights up like a firefly, how’s it going? Great! Zero clogs in a year. Now, I’m receiving an ongoing dividend because I know for a fact every time they flush that thing they are praising God for Jerry Leachman, you know. I’m the man in that house.
We’ve got to stop looking at ourselves and get a vision to serve Christ and really serve other people and have fun doing it. Now I want to give you a quick report on the Fox guys just because everybody asks me about them down here so much and then I’m going to give you our talk for today. Those guys are just growing in Christ like you can’t believe. We meet on Monday mornings. Right now, we’ve been working in the Book of Matthew. Mort Kondracke lost his wife, Milly. Someone told me they even made a television program about it not too long ago and Mort had me preach at the funeral service, but that was the summer before last. She had a long battle with Parkinson’s and Mort really stepped up to the plate, loved her, took care of her, till her dying breath. He’s met a new lovely lady. I think she’s just retiring as the chief executive of the LPGA. I know he went to the Masters this year and they’re engaged to be married, and Mort’s in the study and he’s growing in his faith. You know, Mort for years would not accept the deity and the resurrection of Jesus. He sat in a group I teach for probably six years; loved hearing about it but he just said he just wouldn’t accept the resurrection and the deity of Christ. Men are so funny but they’re all kind of alike in strange ways. I get a call at 10:30 one night in my house, he said, Leachman, men love to call each other by their last name, I said, yeah, is this Kondracke? He said, yeah. He said, hey, you know that deal I didn’t accept the deity and the resurrection of Christ? I go, yeah, how’s that going? He said, well, now I do. I said, well that’s great, Mort. He said, just thought you’d wanted to know, bye. And he hangs the phone up. But he is growing.
Fred Barnes, who I think was down here somewhere in Alabama recently, he is just, he hosts the Bible study in a magazine he works with, The Weekly Standard, in their conference room. Brit Hume’s been growing so much, one of the guys kind of needed a counseling, some advice in our last group, and Brit said, Jerry you mind if I take this one? And he took off. I don’t really get to say much anymore. Brit’s but it’s so on fire. I could retire early if he keeps growing at this rate, and he has gotten on the board now with Coach Gibbs. Coach started a youth home in Washington and Brit’s on the board. And the last guy I’d like to report in to you is Tony Snow, who is really growing in his faith big time in Christ. He had called me about a year ago from the hospital and said, I’ve got cancer. They just told me I have colon cancer. They took out his large colon, and he’s lost a lot of weight, and they didn’t know if it spread, but he called me a couple of weeks ago from the doctor’s office, and said, I just found out and I want you to be the first to know, free and clear. After six months of chemo, they can’t find any cancer in my body, so he’ll have to be checked every three months, but, when you think of those guys, do pray for them. Do pray for them. They’re trying to exhibit and live Christ in a very hard area.
Now, for our talk today, let me have a little prayer.
Lord, I pray as we begin our session today that You would visit with us. It won’t much matter if You don’t visit with us. In Christ’s name, Amen.
I want you to ride with me for a little bit. There is a story in the Bible where Jesus is walking through a little village, and sometimes He only walks through a village one time. If He’s walking through yours, you better pay attention. He may not give you forever to decide on some of these things. And there was a blind man in this story named Bartimaeus. He wanted help so badly from Christ, he wasn’t worried about looking cool. He began to cry out with a loud voice that Jesus would help him. Jesus stopped, looks at this guy blind from birth and says, what do you want. I have to be honest, the first time I read that, I was astounded. What does he want? Jesus, I mean, I could tell you, he’d like to see, you know, if you need a little help on that one, but, you know I think this is really the way Christ works with us, men. You have to get to the point somewhere in your life where you got to tell the coach what it is you really want, and you know what, that guy could have said, I want to see, but he could have said, well, you know, you’re kind of famous, coming through town, I thought it’d be nice to meet you. And Jesus probably would have said, great, nice to have met you, goodbye. He said, I want to see. Now I’ve thought about this, and I’ve sat down and honest to God decided, what would I say to Jesus if he asked me, well, Jerry, all this running around and striving and effort, what is it you’re after boy? What do you really want?
I came up with four things I really want. Now while I tell you my four things, I want you to think what would you tell the Lord you wanted, because He’s asking. Some of you may have not even actually said anything, but I know this; just about every great coach I had, the talk they gave you in the summer was, look, you gotta want it. You can’t just show up in a uniform. You gotta want it, and you gotta love it, you gotta eat it, and breathe it, think it, and dream it; you gotta want it.
Number one, out of my four things. I would ask the Lord, and I have asked the Lord for all four of these things, by the way, and I have seen them come true in my life in perpetuity in the present perfect tense, they are coming through in my life, no kidding. The first thing is fear, no fear. I told the Lord one day, I said, I’m just sick and tired of being fearful, fighting anxiety, trying to act like I’m brave, trying to act like I have it all together, but inside man, you know, keep the wolves away from the door, I think I feel like some days, you look up, they’re not only through the door, they’re raising a batch of pups up under the stove. I get tired of being afraid. I get tired of worrying, and I get tired of anxiety.
Now when you look at the lives of the disciples, the very men that were around Christ, you know, Peter gets all the bad press for being afraid on that night they arrested Jesus, but you know how many of those disciples fled and left Jesus in fear? All of them. But look, listen how they ended up? Andrew was crucified on a cross. Barnabas, stoned to death by the Jews. Bartholomew, beaten to death with clubs. James, the brother of Jesus, was stoned. James the Lesser, thrown from the Pinnacle of a temple and beaten. John, died of natural causes. Jude was crucified. Luke was hanged on an olive tree. Mark dragged through the streets by his feet then burned to death. Matthias stoned and beheaded. Matthew killed by a sword. Paul was beheaded. Peter was scourged and crucified upside down. Philip was scourged and crucified. Thomas was thrust through with a spear, and James the son of Zebedee was killed by a sword. Thaddeus killed by arrows. You know, something happened to those men where they weren’t afraid anymore, and I decided that’s what I want. I’m just damn tired of being scared all the time and looking cool on the outside.
I started to study these guys to see what happened. Something happened to those guys where they weren’t afraid anymore, and I decided it was two things that happened to them. First, the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection of Christ, and the second thing, the coming of the Holy Spirit is what changed those. You can go get counsel, you can make a bunch of money, you can get in your favorite club; it won’t take the fear and anxiety out of your life.
Now, let me make two brief comments about these two things that changed these guys life. If you’re not connected with these two, get connected or just keep living a life of fear and anxiety and looking cool on the outside. Hey, I know what I’m talking about on this one. Every man I minister to fights fear. The resurrection. You know, the Bible says, 365 times about, approximately 365, fear not, and yet, everybody’s scared to death. The angels appear to the shepherds, fear not. They appear to Mary, fear not. Joseph, fear not. Seems like through the Bible, everyone’s being told, stop being afraid, and yet, do you know the Bible only gives one reason for us not to be fearful. Christ said, I’m with you. The only reason the Bible says not to be afraid is God Is with us. Now in our journalist’s group, last Monday, there’s a famous guy in there who’s being investigated. We believe he’s innocent; he says he’s innocent, but they’re trying to make some criminal charges out of something this man has done in Washington. When he came in Monday, his hands were just shaking like this, and I said, all the lessons, all bets are off, we need to minister to a brother here this morning, and he was fearful. I said, are you sleeping, and he said, no. You know, I read to him out of Matthew 6 this teaching Jesus said, when you give alms, when you do a charitable deed, don’t do it to be seen by people, because that’s your little Mickey Mouse reward. Some guy says, oh, way to go. He said, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing because your Father Who sees in secret will reward you openly. You know how Jesus is. There’s a lesson and then there’s one under that, one under that, one under that.
The lesson underneath all of this is God sees you. God sees in secret. He knows everything about you. He’s there with you. You get focused on that, and it’ll take some fear out of your life. Jesus said, don’t fear men. Stop being afraid of people. He said, if all they can do is beat you up, even if they can kill you, don’t be afraid of them. You better be afraid of He Who can beat you up, kill you, and throw you into hell. Be afraid of that one, so I decided to stop being afraid of men. I decided to focus on the fact that God sees me in secret. One of my mentors told me the silliest little thing one day, it means so much to me. He said, Jerry Leachman, God loves you so much, if He carried a wallet, He’d have your picture in it. I love that one. God’s with you, men, whether you see Him or not.
I just read about some people that were on one of those paddle ships going down the Mississippi; all the passengers were on the deck and the fog was so thick. they couldn’t see five feet in front of them. and they ran up to the bridge where the captain was in panic to rebuke him for the speed that that boat was going. But when they got eight feet up, there was no fog at all. The captain was seeing perfectly clear. Listen, that’s the way it is fellas. The next time you think you’re in a fog, just remember this, God’s not in a fog, God’s never been in a fog. You are, but He’s not. This stuff will change your life. Christ said, I’m with you. You believe it or you don’t believe it. I believe God’s with me. I just decided and that was the thing that mattered. I tell you what. I had a teacher that told me something else. He said, Jerry, if God put Alpha Centauri and all those stars up there, you might as well relax, He’s on it. He’s run the universe quite well without you, since you got here. Just relax. If He didn’t put all those stars up there and all this isn’t true, then you’re screwed, blued, and tattooed, and there’s nothing you can do about it anyway, so relax. But worry is the absolute dumbest thing.
Seek first the kingdom and God knows what you need. God’s with us. You ask yourself these two questions, is Jesus alive or dead. You ask yourself this. Now if you say He’s dead, well go out there and roll around the grass and kick your feet, it doesn’t matter, you’re doomed, but if you say He’s alive, go to question number two. Is He with me or not? Yes or no. Now if He’s alive and He’s with you, just relax. I tell you; I knew my life was changing when I started thinking this way; Holly, my wife woke me up, told me there was somebody in the living room, I jumped out of bed, honest to God, sprinted down the hall, got in a good football stance, and I was bummed that there was nobody in there, guys. I kind of started getting that attitude like you’re in high school and the loudspeaker comes on, Jerry Leachman, the principal wants to see you. Yeah, I’d kind of like to see him too. I’m not afraid anymore, guys, and I’m praising God about that. I’m not afraid of you because I come here in love. I just come to serve. I don’t want anything from anybody.
The other thing is prayer. I want to encourage you men to pray more. Now a lot of you go, well, I’m not much of a prayer. Dr. Hendricks has been another person, Dr. Howard Hendricks out at Dallas Seminary who’s taught me through the years, and he told me, he said, you know, it’s always great to be around young believers. Their faith in Christ is so fresh. They’re still dumb enough to actually believe this stuff. They haven’t gotten all sophisticated. He said, this businessman came to Christ out there in Dallas and I’d teach him in the morning in my office, and he didn’t speak Christianese, he didn’t know about church people, he didn’t know anything, he just found Christ three weeks ago and he was pumped. He said, we’d meet early, and about the time we’d finish, the staff would be in there, and we came out of that study one day and he said, Dr. Hendricks, that was one hell of a Bible study, thank you. Staff was all, uh, uh, you know; he said, I knew what he was talking about. I (Hendricks) said, you know, would you have a little extra time? He said, I have a Friday morning prayer thing with a lot of these professors. Why don’t you come in there and come to this little prayer time? He said, oh no, I’m, oh, come on. His name was Joe. He went in there with Dr. Hendricks. Now all these PhDs in Theology started to pray and here they were, they began the review of world history, their tour of the universe, God thou did just hangest thus in the stars, you know, they’re doing all these theological prayers. Dr. Hendricks said, Joe, why don’t you say a prayer. He said, man, I can’t pray with these guys. He said, come on, go ahead. I can’t pray and he did his little funny nerve right there, and it kind of got quiet, and Joe prayed a prayer. He said, Dear God, this is Joe. Remember me? I’m the guy that found you three weeks ago> I am so excited. Just thought I’d say Hi. Goodbye. That room was silent. Dr. Hendricks said, what’s your best guess? Which one of those prayers was just a delight to God’s heart? Now look, some of you guys are probably a little rough around the edges, I understand that, but if you can talk, you can pray. That’s all it is. However you talk, pray. Remember God’s with you, start praying, and if God seems far away, praise Him. God lives on the praise of His people, and He will draw closer to you, no fear.
The second thing I would ask of God is a Godly heritage. You know, I came from a pretty bad chain. My family, I’m a child of divorce, and I was the first one that I know of in my family that found Christ and God used me, probably the biggest sinner in my family, to lead my whole family to Christ. My father was a war hero. I’ve mentioned that to you, I believe. June 1944, my father was at Utah Beach, and he went into Holland in a glider at night, he parachuted into Sicily, Naples-Foggia, North Africa, but you know what? My father and I were reconciled, my father found Jesus Christ. My mother and father died six months apart, and I preached at my father’s funeral, military funeral with a 21-gun salute. Even with that military record, the only thing that mattered is my father knew Jesus when he crossed the finish line. My mother knew Jesus when she crossed the finish line. My wife and I love Christ, all our kids love Christ, have two grand-kids now, and there’s no way I believe they’re not going to love Christ. Four generations in my family have been changed by the Gospel.
Now I want to confess something to you. When I first started out in the ministry, I was ashamed of the Gospel and I was ashamed to be a minister because I feared men, and I wanted to be one of the rich guys that sent guys like me money, but I didn’t want to talk about it, but somehow I wanted it to leak out how generous I was, and everybody talk about what a great guy I was. I wanted to have power to do favors for people out of a position of power and when God called me to be a minister, I’d get around successful people and they’d say, what do you do, I’d be slightly ashamed, well, I’m kind of in the ministry, you know. I’m not anymore because guys, I’ve gone so far in this journey, I believe with all my heart, in the end, apart from the Gospel, there’s nothing out there. There is nothing out there. I’ve gone into the bedrooms of a billionaire who was dying and no children, not one servant was in his whole estate, that was it, no family, no anybody, he had no relationship with anybody. Apart from the Gospel, there’s nothing out there. I’ve seen how temporary all this stuff really is. I want to have a Godly heritage. I tell people all the time is if all you have to leave your children is money, that ain’t a whole lot. That’s just not a whole lot.
The third thing I want is a grateful heart. I’ve decided a grateful heart changes all the rules in your entire life. If a spaceship landed out here on the 18th green and said, Jerry we don’t have a lot of time, could you tell us what the essence of sin is, I’d go, yeah, Romans 1:21 and 22. That’s all you need to know. For while they knew God, they didn’t recognize Him as God, they didn’t give thanks to Him as God, and their foolish hearts became darkened. Your quickest route to a heart of darkness is to have an ungrateful heart. Those of you that catch yourself sitting around bitching and moaning and whining, you probably have an ungrateful heart. Look, I’m your coach, I’ll tell it like it is. I don’t have a chip on my shoulder. I’m not mad at anybody, but the truth is your friend. Once we have a grateful heart for what the Lord has done for us, we even realize He’s done so much more than we originally thought He’d done for us, and three things will be true about your life. I’ll give you a quick test this morning. One, you will have joy in your life. Joy comes from one source and one source only, a grateful heart. You get around grateful people, you just can’t suppress them; even when it goes bad, they’re still grateful. They still have a degree of joy even when they go … I’ve done prison ministry and met guys in prison that explode with joy. If you lack joy, check your grateful heart. I’ll tell you how to troubleshoot it. The second thing that’ll be true in your life is you’ll have a sense of worship. Now, I guess it is possible for a man to worship in church, singing those songs, but I mean, most of them are in keys for women, we can’t sing them unless Frank Sinatra is going to show up and lead singing at your church, he would have put one in our key. Nothing against church music, but I mean, most of the chicks are singing and the guys are counting the pipes on the organ and stuff like that. But that’s one way to worship.
You know, you can worship God anywhere, anytime. I love my son Josh. We love to play golf. I remember a few years ago, we were in the Shenandoah Valley, the leaves were changing, nobody was on this course where were they, and we were on the 15th green, just missed our putts as usual, and I grabbed him around the neck, and I go, God, I love him. I even like him. I’m so lucky. I get to play golf. I get to play with a son I just adore. God this is great. You know, when you have thoughts like that, you know what that is? That’s worship. I was worshiping the Lord out of a grateful heart. A grateful heart changes every rule in your life.
The third thing that will be true about your life is you’ll have a sense of mission. We talked about Airborne Rangers last year, let me tell you, the people with a grateful heart, they’re the ones that volunteer, they’re the ones that sign up. They just want to give something back. They just have to do something, they feel so blessed they want to serve, somehow, some way. They have a sense of mission in life. Now, do you know a grateful heart will be your most attractive attribute? Grateful people are attractive. They draw people like flies. And a grateful heart encourages everybody you’re around. You’ll be an instant encourager once your heart goes grateful.
The last thing I want to finish up with, no fear, Godly heritage, and a grateful heart, the last thing is, I desperately have asked the Lord to give me friends that’ll help me cross the finish line and help me be a friend like that because I’ve ministered to so many men in their darkest hour, basically, they had no real friends, and I thought, I don’t want to do that. I want real friends in Christ, connected to God, and if they have to drag me across the Finish Line, I want to finish my race. Now, I have a little test I give people and they don’t usually do well on the first half, and they all do well on the second half. See how you do. This test was by Charles Schultz, the guy who did the Peanuts comic strip. He was a devout believer in Jesus, died a few years ago, he’s in Heaven. The first part of the test is this. Now you have to be able to answer this instantly. Name the five wealthiest people in the world. Name the last five Heisman Trophy winners. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest. If you can nail that one, you’re kicked out of here instantly. Name 10 people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize for anything. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and best actress. Name the last 10 World Series winners in a row. You know, almost no one I’ve ever done this with, if I took the time, can do it, and if they could do part of it, they have to muscle it. Here’s the point of the first part of the test. These people are the most accomplished people on the planet, way the most accomplished people on the planet; nobody remembers them, nobody cares. What are you striving after? These people don’t change the world. You know who changes the world? The people on the second part of this test.
See how you do on the second part of this test. Now ride with me. We’re heading towards the finish line. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school. Name three friends who’ve helped you through a tough time. Think of a few people who’ve made you feel appreciated, special. Name a few people whose stories have inspired you. Think of three people you just enjoy being with them. You know, when I ask men that, they go boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. They can fill in that whole list instantly. You know what this proves? The people on the second part of this test are the ones that have impacted and changed your life. You know why? Because they cared. They cared about you, they served you, everything I’m talking about today, they did in your life. Are you doing it in other people’s lives? Because here’s the deal. I just was asked by the aide of Senator Santorum, he said, you know, Jerry you run around Washington trying to bring us a blessing, who blessed you along the way? He was given me the second part of this test whether he knew it or not. I said, my fifth-grade teacher, Miss Taylor. My 10th Grade B-team football coach at Lanier High School, and he taught me algebra in the 10th grade, Coach Raymond Boykin. Now, I was always good at literature, philosophy, religion, stuff like that, but mathematics, I could not organize a two-car funeral to this day. I took algebra under Coach Boykin and made a B; didn’t cheat. He wouldn’t let you. I would have if I could have. It was a miracle, and he was tough on us. He said, I love you boys but I’m not going to give you a dime. He really was like my father for a while. Coaches can be that way. Anyway, I was telling Santorum’s aide this, and he said, guys like that are the real heroes in this country. He said, hey, you want us to fly a flag over the capital of the United States for him. I said, can you do that? He said, yeah, it’s what we do at the Senate. We fly flags over the Capitol. They flew a flag for my coach over the Capitol, gave it to me in a glass box, it had a certificate from the architect of the Capitol on it, and I called his family. I went to school with his kids, they’re all grown with kids now, and I called up Raymond, Jr., who’s a farmer down outside of Montgomery, and I said Raymond, you’re not going to believe this, you know, and I told him the story, and I said, I’m going to mail it down there and y’all can give it to the old man. He said, let me talk to my brothers and sisters. We’ll call you back. He called me back and he said, here’s the deal. My dad is so loved in this town, when word of this gets out, there won’t be a place big enough to hold it, so, you’ve got to give us some time to plan this and we’re going to surprise him. Number two, we want you to personally fly down and give this flag to my father because we all knew what you were like when you were a kid and if people see how, you turned out, Jerry, they’ll know how truly great our father was. I went down there and gave the old man that flag and there wasn’t a dry in the place. He’s a former Marine, served kids 30 years in Lanier High School, never once did he ask anybody for anything.
Now, I was talking about this with a famous guy in Washington who got in trouble, he was depressed, and he said, yeah, his third-grade teacher. I said, is she alive? I think so. Have you ever thanked her? Back to this grateful heart. Jesus healed ten lepers and He said only one of them bothered to come back and say thank you. He said, where are the other nine guys? Now, which one are you this morning? I said, you ought to, you got to, your stationery, if somebody read it, they’d know who you are, it’s famous. Write her a thank you note, with love from your heart. You know, he did it, then he went to see her. You know what he said? The old gal had tears in her eyes. She was at the end of her life. When he walked in, she pulled out three envelopes with letters, and she said, you know, I can’t tell you, your letter meant the world to me. In all those years of teaching, those are the letters I’ve received. Three. Shame on everybody. Some of you probably ought to write a letter to somebody real soon. Make a phone call. Start having a grateful heart. Stop worrying about your own little red wagon. Stop being so afraid of all this nonsense. God’s with you. He knows what you need. I love that scene from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when they have to jump to escape. Sundance said, I ain’t jumping. I can’t swim. And Newman said, swim, the fall will kill you. Just jump.
My son Josh is on my list. He encourages me so much. One of the things he says to me all the time is like they say in New York, hey, who’s better than you? Well, who’s better than you, huh? Oh, who’s better than you? He’s told me that so much, I was actually driving my car the other day and I started thinking, hey who is better than me, huh?
People encourage you and they get on your list. Now I want to ask you a question and I’m going to tell you a closing story and we’re done. I’ve told you some people on my list today. There are a lot more on my list. Who’s on your list? Have you thanked them? Are you one of the nine lepers? You just can’t seem to drag your rear end back and say thank you? Shame on you. I’m not being mean to you. The truth is your friend. The truth is the way out. If I hung out with some people you spend a lot of time with and I asked them about this, here’s my question. How many of them would tell me you’re on their list? Because the moral of this lesson today, I’ve given you some real practical ways to fulfill the teachings of Jesus, to love God and to love people, stop being afraid. The moral of life is seeing how many people’s lists you can get on, because how do you get on them? By caring about them, by serving them. Jesus said He was a servant, that we were to be servants. You love people, you care about them, you serve them; you’re going to get on a ton of lists. I want to get on as many lists as I can because I tell you this, if you’re not on very many lists, put this in your pipe and smoke it. You can be a millionaire, honest to God, no offense, but you have wasted your life, you are wasting your life, if you’re not on a lot of lists. That’s the truth.
Now, I want to close with this thought. You know, when you read the Bible, the world does have a lot of bad stuff going on in it, but when you read the Bible, you do get the impression that our team’s going to win in the end, don’t you? Jesus’ team is going to win in the end. We know that. We believe that. We feel it, really do, no matter how bad it looks now. Another one of my teachers, I’ve had wonderful guys teach me; I feel like I had Jedi Knights for Christ disciple me, didn’t know it at the time, but I do now. Dick Woodward from Virginia Beach. Dick’s a small guy but he loves football. He told me, he said, you know, when I was a in high school, I thought my coach had gone insane. The last game of the year we were playing the big rivals the stadium was packed, he said, Woodward, go in, you’re going in, and he said, I ran out onto the field, I’d never been in a game, been practicing for four years and he said I was like this on the defensive line waiting for the ball to be snapped, and before the ball could be snapped, the referee blew the whistle and said, well, game’s over, this is all in the record books now. Sorry son, game’s over, he said to Dick. Dick said he stood there with tears in his eyes, and he was happy his team won, his family were, they were all in the stands, he said, but he was sad because all during the battle he wasn’t on the field, he was on the sidelines.
Now, I want to close with this thought. Are you on the field for Christ or are you on the sidelines? There are three levels of tracking with Christ. Come see, come follow, come die. Come see Christ gives people plenty of time just to hang out with Him. Nothing’s expected, but He’ll up the bar. He said, it’s time to come follow Me now, and He said, follow Me and I’ll make you Fishers of Men and I’ll tell you this, those of you that have been around church for a while, if you’re not fishing for men, you’re still in the come see stage. I was sharing this in Richmond recently and the pastor got up and was teared up, and he said, I’m still in the come see stage. I don’t fish for men. Now, you may not know how to share with them and say the Bible to them, but you can invite them to stuff, there’s all kinds of ways you can do. You do what you can do, but you got to want to be a player, you got to want to be on the field.
This is my last story about somebody who’s alive today. Some of you know this person in this story. I coached High School football here in Birmingham for seven years, and one of the schools I coached at for two years, we had a manager, and I never saw a kid that wanted to be on the field more than this manager, but he had some kind of palsy or something, you know, he couldn’t really walk right or run really fast, he wasn’t coordinated. That guy is the perfect example of this whole lesson I’m giving. He loved Christ and he loved people, and he loved football, and he served us all those years as our manager. He loved us. I was humbled to be around him. He had joy. You couldn’t make him unhappy. He had every principle that I’ve taught today. His senior year, the last game, I said, Hey Chris, you’re not going to wear a manager’s uniform. This is your senior year; this is the last game. You’re suiting up with the boys. That kid said, Coach, you’re joking. I said, no, you’re suiting up with the boys. I’m the head coach. I get to decide stuff like that. Boy, I tell you, you would have thought that guy was in a Marine blue dress uniform with medals all over it when he got on that bus never saw a guy wear a uniform with more pride than Chris that night. I said, now if we get up on this team 21 points, I’m going to put you in. I thought there’s no way on God’s Earth we’re going to get up 21 points on this thing. Sure enough, in the fourth quarter, we’re up 21 points and I feel one of those things like this on my side, and it’s Chris. He’s got his helmet on and he’s strapped up. Then the other players are looking at me and saying, are you a liar or what, Coach? I said, here’s the deal. You go in at middle guard, if they fumble it on first down, you’re out. If they go three plays in that, four play four and out, you’re out. If they make a first down, you’re out after four plays. Four plays Max, one minimum, you’re in, deal? Deal. Probably took him a good 45 seconds to go from the sideline to middle guard and the place was going crazy. Why? Because his heart was as big as a watermelon.
There is power in love, guys. There is power in it. That kid got at middle guard, and I could just hardly watch for four plays. I mean, the ball would be snapped, and he would disappear 30 seconds, you know, and somehow, like a high diver in Acapulco, just come back up out of the water sometime, and thank God, they didn’t get a first down, four and out. I can’t even tell you what his face looked like when he came off the field. I can’t tell you how I inspired I am even in this moment to want to be on the field for Christ half as bad as that kid wanted to be on the field. Do you know I saw that boy, he grew up, he’s a youth pastor, he has a wife and children, still the happiest guy you ever saw in your life. I saw him almost 30 years later somewhere, maybe I was speaking down here somewhere, met his wife, chatted with him, got caught up with him, and then, as we parted, you know what he said? Hey, Coach, thanks for putting me in the game. Thanks for putting me in the game. You know, that might have been the greatest achievement in my whole life was putting that kid in a football game.
Now why do I close with that? Guys, let me appeal to you today. I may never speak to you again in my lifetime, but don’t waste your life. If you’re not getting on lists, you’re not in the game. If you’re not fishing for men, you’re not in the game. Don’t get at the end of the game knowing that the coach was asking, do you want to go in? Do you want to go in? I’ll put you in anytime and you never got your tail out there on the field. That would be a tragedy. God wants you to be a player, fellas. Let’s Roll.
Let me close with a prayer.
Lord, thank You for Richard and all those that organize such meetings like this. Thank you that men from all kinds of areas and backgrounds can get together in Your name. Lord, there’s a lot of trouble out there and there’s more ahead. We just want You to be with us. Thank You that we can pray to You anywhere, anytime. Thank You that You offer us a uniform and a field to play on. Lord, I pray for a spirit of Revival here today, that every man would be inspired in his heart, by God. I want to tell You what I want, and I want to be out on the field, and I want to be a player. I pray every man here would just have a fire in him to get on every list he could get on until the end of his life. Lord, be with us, take our fear away, and give us grateful hearts. I just want to say thank You. In Christ’s name, Amen.