Our boys' basketball program at Westbury Christian School has produced tremendous players with ten of our alumni on major college rosters. It's fun for me to go to websites and see mentions of former students who are playing at Cornell, William and Mary, West Virginia, Southern Cal, Tennessee, etc. One of our ex-Wildcats is seeing considerable action at Wichita State as a freshman. My brother Dave lives in Wichita and keeps up with the Shockers, attending in person when he has the chance. WSU had a huge win yesterday in double overtime versus conference rival Southern Illinois. Dave called last night on an unrelated matter but the talk turned to roundball and he filled me in on the game. Our WCS product was an invaluable part of the victory and has seen the floor much more lately. Improved play is only part of the reason. Not long ago, a teammate was removed from the Wichita State program because of punctuality. The young man, who from all evidence is a good kid, was late on a number of occasions. Apparently, the final straw came on a road trip when he came in several minutes after the beginning of a team meeting. The accumulation of small offenses resulted in the ultimate punishment for a player, being divorced from your second family, your team. In an interesting side note, Dave read an interview with the banished player's father who happens to be a high school basketball coach. The dad fully supported the decision of the Wichita State staff, saying his son is a wonderful young man but part of growing up is learning to be on time. Tough love includes tough lessons!
This morning, I heard a story. We have a former major league baseball player in our congregation, Bo Porter. After a college career at the University of Iowa, Bo made it to the big time with the Cubs, Athletics, and Rangers. Now retired in Houston, Bo runs a baseball school and is having a terrific influence on youth programs locally. At a recent banquet for youngsters, his wife told a story. In Bo's junior year of high school, his team made it to the state title game. Bo had a 10:00 pm curfew, imposed by his mother. The night before the finals, Bo made it back to his house at 10:05 pm. His mother refused to let him play the next day; he had broken her rules. It did not matter he was ONLY five minutes tardy or that playing for a state title is the dream of kids everywhere or that the coaches attempted to intervene. His mother said NO. Bo's team lost. As a senior, they made it again to the championship. This time, Bo made curfew and his team won the state title. More than fifteen years later, that was the story I heard. No one told me how many hits he had in the title game or his impact with an acrobatic play defensively. What I heard was that his mother stuck to her guns. Our society is desperate for mothers like Bo's.
Being on time is a little thing... except it isn't. We need boundaries set that give us the capability as we grow to make mature decisions. However, boundaries not enforced are worse than not having limits at all. The Wichita State coaches and Bo's mother could have renegotiated with the young men but that just teaches that no does not necessarily mean no when the stakes are higher. Jesus told a parable that involved being prepared and on time, The Wise and Foolish Virgins. In Matthew 25, no excuses were accepted for the five who didn't make it into the wedding banquet and the punishment was severe. I ask my students if they know what you call a person habitually late for work. The answer; UNEMPLOYED. When I taught in Tennessee, one of my students was Brett Tipps. Brett had a brain injury that caused him to have a shunt inserted into his skull to drain fluid. Although Brett was very bright, his speech was sometimes slurred and his handwriting was, at times, indecipherable. He walked with a severe limp, dragging his feet. (He would go through a pair of athletic shoes in no time flat.) Brett stuffed all his school supplies into a duffel bag which he dragged behind him. In spite of all that, Brett was NEVER late to my class. The period before mine, he was in chorus which met in another building. The school allowed him a small exception- they let him cut through the office instead of going around the building. After entering, he still had to negotiate a set of stairs. Let me repeat, Brett was never late. On the other hand, I have had students whose third period was across the hall from my room and they would be late to my class for fourth! If Brett, who never asked for favors could make it, anyone can. He died a number of years ago, never making it into his thirties. In spite of being the world's biggest University of Tennessee fan, Brett was my hero. He taught me that I can be where I am supposed to be at the appointed time. Jesus called it being ready- Brett was.Applicable quote of the day:
"The trouble with punctuality is that nobody's there to appreciate it."
Franklin P. Jones
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