Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Price Of Greatness

Many of you, I'm guessing, have heard of Willie Franklin. A football player (Oklahoma Sooners/Baltimore Colts) turned evangelist, Franklin has been preaching the Gospel and telling of the love of Jesus to hundreds of thousands since the 1970s. In recent years, his name has come up in the news as the father of James Franklin, a premier quarterback for the University of Missouri and now a member of the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League. Willie's influence is huge at WCS as he brought Kenneth Okwuonu, one of our outstanding coaches and teachers, to the Lord during his college days and now Kenneth has touched many lives at Westbury Christian. It's always the ripple effect in in the Kingdom of Heaven.

More than ten years ago, we had a Spiritual Emphasis Day at WCS and the speaker was none other than the aforementioned Willie Franklin. He spoke to our student body several times and inspired the kids with his infectious enthusiasm for Jesus. During his sharing times, he talked about his family and the child-rearing principles he and his lovely wife, Pam, were implementing in the training of their kids. Most of our students come from conservative family backgrounds but some viewed the Franklins' theories on raising children as extremely rigid while still absolutely adoring Willie and the stories he told about their household. If you've ever heard him speak, my guess is you will remember Willie as a spellbinder who can make the case for the Christian life fascinating and appealing. It's a case youngsters need to hear....... and us older folks as well. After his group sessions, Willie spent time in some classes, including mine. I recall his interacting with one of my 8th grade Bible sections. He was a natural in the classroom as well as in the pulpit and the kids who sat at his feet that day were blessed with life-long lessons on spiritual matters through examples from the secular world. Like I said, he's really good.

The next day, I asked my class about the time they had the blessing of being in Willie's presence. They loved it! So I took a survey and it went like this:
How many of you think Willie is a great dad?
Every hand went up.
How many of you think his kids will turn out great?

Every hand went up.
How many of you want to be great?
Every hand went up.
If, heaven forbid, something happened to your father, how many would you want Willie (or his facsimile) to step in and be your dad?
Only one hand went up.
Why wouldn't you want him to be your dad?
Coach, he's too strict.
I thought you said he's a great dad!
He is.
I thought you said his kids will be great!
They will be.
I thought you wanted to be great!

We do.
So why wouldn't you want him to be your dad?

Coach, he's too strict.

There you have it. They knew having a dad like Willie could guide them on the path to greatness but it wasn't worth what they perceived to be the cost. I couldn't believe it but then my folks used many of the same techniques as Willie and Pam so I was used to it. The one who raised her hand as wanting to have a dad like Willie did not surprise me. It was Leah Holder, one of my basketball girls and best/favorite students ever. Her father, Olus Holder, was a legendary basketball player at Oklahoma State University and a minister. My guess is Leah saw in Willie many of the qualities she saw in her own dad. Perhaps not coincidentally, Leah is now a noted author on Christian purity and within weeks of becoming an attorney! Her folks hit a home run with their daughter!

Leah is not the only girl from that class I remember that same day. Willie went around and asked each middle schooler what they wanted to do in life. Another young lady on my team replied that her goal was to play in the WNBA and he predictably gave her some encouragement. I knew something Willie didn't. I knew young lady # 2, who was another one of my absolute favorites as well, was an average player in 8th grade and never touched a ball when we weren't practicing, not the track to be on for the highest level of play. And she never even became much more than an average high school player. My guess is she might have just said that for something to say. But she was like all of us in some arenas of our life. We say we want to be great but we don't want the discipline required.  Maybe that carries over into our spiritual walk as well. We forget Jesus taught taking up our cross and division within families and persecution. The believer's life is joyful but may be marked with stress and testing. The ability to withstand the temptations and inevitable trials can be forged within the home, by loving parents who love enough to be strict when needed. I know there are many parenting strategies and no perfect moms and dads but Willie and Pam Franklin have some pretty good results for their efforts....... strictly speaking. I'd like to think Roger and Nelda Hawley did as well.

Applicable quote of the day:
There is no job more important than parenting. This I believe. 
Ben Carson

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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