Friday, August 24, 2007

Submission to Authority

I have been reading Coach Tony Dungy's Quiet Strength, listening to ESPN radio, and watching NFL pre-season games lately. So needless to say, football has been on my mind.

Thinking of football reminded me of a passage from The 12 Essentials of Godly Success by Tommy Nelson, a pastor of Denton Bible Church in Denton, Texas. This is from pages 81-82 of his book:

"In the early 1970s I was the chaplain of a high school football team. We love our high school football in Texas. We are connoisseurs of high school football. In other states they have high school football; in Texas, they live for high school football. For a whole bunch of folks it may as well be the state religion.

So to be a great player in Texas means you are doing something. And on the team I served was a young man who was the finest high school player I have ever seen. He was one of only three athletes in the history of Texas to be a three-time high school all-American (meaning, he was a high school all-American as a sophomore!).

When he was ready to graduate, he had his choice of colleges. He picked a school whose previous running back was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. The question was not whether this young man would be good, but whether he was going to win the Heisman.

After he made his decision, I said to his high school coach, "What do you think? Will he win the Heisman someday?" His coach replied, "He'll never carry the ball in college."

I was shocked. 'What do you mean?' I demanded. And he told me this young man had a character flaw that would eventually disqualify him. He knew that his college coaches would see it right away, and that would be the end of his career.

Well, this young man ended up attending four different colleges---he quit two and was kicked out of two. He finished without a degree. The last I heard he was living in a common-law marriage and struggling every step of the way.

What was the character flaw that the coach saw? 'He cannot submit to authority. He cannot submit to his parents. He cannot submit to an employer. He cannot submit to a teacher.' The coach told me, 'We've carried him along for the sake of the ball club. But I assure you, he will not submit to his college coaches. His football career is done.'

That coach could have just as easily quoted to me a verse from Proverbs: 'The eye that mocks a father and scorns a mother, the ravens of the valley will pick it out' (Prov. 30:17, NASB)."

What a sobering story. What a tragic story. I hope I can teach my son how to submit to authority so that he can live life well as he grows up.

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