Monday, December 05, 2016

Amazing Graciousness

John Unitas was in the news several years ago, posthumously. On a Sunday night in October of 2012, Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints surpassed Unitas' record of throwing a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive NFL games. It was noted that the son of Unitas told Brees his father would have wanted his record broken. Each news cycle is filled with accounts of celebrities, often athletes, who act as if the world revolves around them. Fortunately, not every famous person suffers from this 'I disease.' The following is from February 8, 2006.

Her name is Laura Beth and she played basketball for me in high school. You could fill scrapbooks with her accomplishments; valedictorian and college homecoming queen are just two of LB's countless awards. After graduation, she became a teacher, a wife, and mother. A highlight of my life was being blessed to participate in her (and Chad's) wedding as a minister. One discovery I have made over the years is that my students teach me more than I teach them. One summer, Laura Beth spent her time working as a waitress at a Cracker Barrel located right off Interstate 40 in Lebanon, Tennessee. When she was preparing to go back to school in August, I asked what the experience had taught her. I remember her words verbatim. "I learned that there are alot of unhappy people in the world." Wisdom from a teenager! Knowing Laura Beth, I would guess she made a tremendous amount in tips simply by being gracious to folks who find graciousness not often extended to them.

On ESPN radio during the Mike And Mike Show, football great Bill Curry was interviewed on the obligation players have to the game. Curry recounted an illustration from the funeral of Johnny Unitas, the Baltimore Colts' legendary quarterback. His daughter in the eulogy spoke of her dad being mobbed by autograph seekers. Once, when they had gone as a family to a restaurant, Unitas saw disgust on his child's face as he graciously signed one autograph after another, interrupting their meal. The Hall of Famer told his offspring to look around at all the unhappy expressions on people's faces. He told her that every time he signed someone's napkin or slip of paper, they went away glowing. Johnny U did it to bring a small measure of happiness into the life of a stranger. That is the measure of graciousness. The famous are portrayed as arrogant but that is a generalization. Many in baseball credit Cal Ripken with healing the rift between players and fans after an ugly strike in the 1990's. Ripken signed countless autographs after games while in the midst of his streak that would eclipse Lou Gehrig's consecutive game record. After signing each item, Ripken would blow on his signature to hasten the ink drying, insuring there would be no smearing. That is class. 

Most of us get impatient with the distractions in our relatively uncluttered lives. We have no concept of spending our days in a fishbowl. Jesus was the most gracious person who ever walked the earth. Hounded and attacked, the Son of Man kept his composure and genuineness. It looks like he was tugged from every direction. He had to go off by himself just to pray. But, people could tell he was different. In Luke 4, the people in the synagogue were amazed at his gracious words. In Colossians 4:5-6, Paul ties together our actions and our speaking in reaching out to others. He tells us that our conversation should be full of grace. My mother, from Arkansas, influenced me to use eight words that in an impolite society attract positive attention: "Yes, ma'am. No, ma'am. Yes, sir. No, sir." I am much more willing to work with kids who have sir and ma'am in their vocabulary. It's a small thing, a gracious thing, but it can help make a connection with someone who feels their lives are unplugged. The world can be affected by gracious, polite people. Just look at Jesus.

Applicable quote of the day:
"If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world."
Francis Bacon

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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Jon said...

Thats so cool u get to preach ure old players wedding

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