I spoke last night at the training table for the Central High School football team, it was a wonderful evening and one I enjoyed very much. I discussed the individuals that made a big impact in my life. The men and women who chose to teach me, invest in me and love me. I left the players and the towns people that were present with this charge; sit down today, put some thought to those people who made an impact in your, write down what they taught you and then let them know you love them and you appreciate what they did for you. I give you the same charge. Have a Blessed weekend.
In Salina, Kansas there was a little old man named Ralph Heatwole. Quite frankly he was just as weird as his name. He was a cranky old man who was always griping about the bratty little kids running around church knocking people over. One Sunday the Pastor announced that it was about time for church camp and several children wanted to go but didn’t have the money to pay for it. One of those kids was a rambunctious boy named Randy. Randy was the brattiest of the brats that rode the bus to church. Ralph’s wife suggested that they pay Randy’s way to camp. Ralph hit the ceiling at the very thought of throwing his hard earned money away on Randy of all kids. But his wife kept working on him until he finally gave in. The Sunday after camp all the kids went to the front of the church to tell about camp and to thank those who paid their way and Randy testified to accepting Christ as his savior that week. That was all Ralph needed to hear – after that, he paid to send at least one kid to camp every year. That’s not the end of the story though. God called Randy to preach. Years later Ralph was there when Randy was Ordained an Elder in the Church of the Nazarene. As people filed by to congratulate Randy after the service, Ralph was at the back of the church and Randy pointed to him and shouted “There’s the man who paid my way to camp when I got saved.” Ralph learned that when you invest in people, you invest in eternity.
Today I want to tell about some of the men and women who have impacted my life growing up and to tell you what they did for me. I hope this will speak to your heart the desire to sit down tonight and make your own list. Over the next few days call or better yet go by and see those individuals and let them know how much you appreciate their investment.
Mr. Digsby, River Road Elementary School Principal, he was a man who rewarded right and busted bad right square in the fanny. I had discipline at home and I had discipline at school. He was everywhere in the school. He taught me that if you care you will be there. Mr. Digsby was a teacher and he chose to teach me.
Luther Reeder, Jordan Vocational High School math teacher, he was the first man outside my family that talked with me about Jesus Christ. He was a man of God and there was no doubting he served Him with his whole heart. He was firm but very fair. He loved Jesus and wanted me to love Jesus. Luther Reeder was a teacher and He chose to teach me.
Coach Gene Sharpe, Jordan Vocation High School Head Football Coach, he was my high school football coach and athletic director. He showed me the importance of loving all people. I watched him care more about the young men that played for him than the wins they could produce. I watched him take athletes home, provide for their needs and invest in them as young men. Gene Sharpe was a teacher and he chose to teach me.
Mrs. Bland, Jordan Vocational High School 11th and 12th grade English teacher, she was a hard lady and a very tough nut to crack. It is my understanding that she failed her own son in senior English. She would not allow me to fail. She refused to allow me to half-step, she expected much more from me than I ever expected from myself; consequently, she received much more from me than I had given in the past. Mrs. Bland was a teacher and she chose to teach me.
Coach Paul Waldrop, Jordan Vocational High School, high school football and baseball coach, one of the toughest men I have ever dealt with in my life. He taught me to be tough, he would not allow anything else. He opened up his home to me. He allowed me to be a part of his family. He loved me and expected more than I could give; therefore, pushing me further than I would have ever reached on my own. Coach Waldrop was a teacher and he chose to teach me.
Coach Wayne Trawick, Central High School, Head Football Coach, he taught me the importance of knowing what you want and then going after it. He taught me hard work and dedication and that winners don’t punch a clock. As a rookie coach he treated me like I was his best coach and that I had been there for 20 years. Coach Trawick was a teacher and he chose to teach me.
Carey East, Phenix City Schools retired Assistant Superintendent, Carey East is a dear friend and he taught me to do the right thing NO MATTER WHAT IT COST YOU PERSONALLY. He was my mentor and he taught me how to deal with people. He taught me balance and loyalty. Carey East taught me to love what you are doing and to love those around you. Carey East was a teacher and he chose to teach me.
Dr. Larry DiChiara, Phenix City Schools Superintendent, Dr. D taught me that sometimes you have to fight when you’re a man. He taught me to make decisions based on what you know is right and best for your organization, even when the decisions are not popular and may cause ripples. He taught me to have a vision and that your decisions, actions and focus must be driven by that vision. He taught me about friendship and that his love and care for me went beyond the job and professional relationship. Dr. D was a teacher and he chose to teach me.
Jerri Dean, my sister, she taught me to never ever stop praying, because she never stopped praying for me. She taught me what it is like to be loved and to know she had my back. She showed me the need for surrendering to God. She taught me to love and protect. Jerri Dean was a teacher and she chose to teach me.
Patsy Wilson, my MAMA, she taught me that a mama loves her baby with every ounce of her being. She taught me how to be selfless. She taught me that, “no one,” better hurt her baby. She taught me that she loved me and so did Jesus Christ. She taught me that daddy would take care of most of my issues when he got home, but have mercy on me when she felt like the lesson couldn’t wait. My mother was a teacher and she chose to teach me.
Willie Wilson, my father, he taught me how to be a man. He taught me how to treat my wife and to raise my children. He taught me how to help others and to never let a friend go in need. He taught me what is to be respected and admired by those around you. He taught me that attitude is way more important than physical abilities. My father was a teacher and he chose to teach me.
Jesus Christ, my Lord and my Savior, He taught me how to live,
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
He taught me how to laugh,
Habakkuk 3:18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
He taught me how to love,
Matthew 22:37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
Jesus showed me how to take all these wonderful things that so many people taught me and to do them because of my love for Him. Jesus taught me how to live my life surrendered to Him. Jesus is a teacher and He chooses to teach me.
I hope that you being here tonight and listening to these words will cause you to give serious thought to the people in your life who along the way were teachers and they chose to teach you. Give thanks for them. Call them and tell them you love them and you appreciate them.