Friday, May 5, 2017

What if our daily decisions, actions and reactions were always led by "What Would Jesus Do?"

Yesterday, Larry (Staci's husband and I call him "my son"), was asked to be the speaker for the Regional Speech & Debate morning devotions here at Concordia University in Austin. I don't think I was ever prouder of him than I was of him, this day. Larry told his story to the students.

His dad left him and his mother when he was just a baby so he grew up being raised by a single mom that had to resort to working three jobs just to make ends meet for her and her young son. She had to make choices that weren't easy. For example, there was the time when she didn't have enough funds for child care so Larry was a "latch-key" kid, coming home from school to fend for himself -- cook, wash his own clothes and overall take care of himself. There was also the time when she bought a season pass to Six Flags Over Texas and she would drop Larry off daily as a sort of baby sitter while she went to work.

Later on, Larry's Mom told him that if he wanted to go to college he would have to get a scholarship or earn enough money, himself, to go to college. He knew he didn't have the academic ability for a scholarship (LOL! The kids laughed here), so he began to pursue athletics -- particularly, football. Larry's coach, who was also their neighbor, saw him hanging out with the "wrong crowd" and he walked over to Larry, pulled him aside and pushed him against the wall and said, "Larry, if you want to make something out of your life, you've got to stop hanging out with the wrong crowd." It was such an impactful conversation, that Larry made the decision to become the best version of himself that he could. He changed his friends, changed the things he was doing and began to work hard. That coach's support and encouragement in football and life paved the way for him to get a 4-year scholarship to Texas A&M, from 1989 to 1993. That was a great season of football at A&M. Their team went to 5 post-season bowl games, 2 pre-season bowl games, won 3 Southwest conference championships. Larry played defense and his team's defense was ranked #1 while he attended there. Larry went on to receive his Engineering Degree from A&M.

Even after graduating, "being the best version of himself" continued to be his mode of operation in life. He realized that he didn't come from a 2-parent family, or a family of means like many around him had. He could have looked at himself as deprived, rejected, troubled, lost, forgotten -- but he didn't. He knew that nothing defined who was except for who he believed God made him to be.

He went on to talk about the 90s bracelet and slogan (still around today) -- "What Would Jesus Do?" Though he wasn't raised in an environment of believing and serving God and attending church, he met his wife (my Staci) and attended a Bible Study she was teaching, gave his life to Christ and "What Would Jesus Do?" became the mode of operation that he would continue to live out in his life today in order to be the best version of himself. Larry went on to encourage the students that even in Speech & Debate Tournaments, competition is stiff, attitudes and actions can be on the edge toward their competitors and how they are being judged, but still, the higher calling and to be the best version of themselves is to always apply "What Would Jesus Do?" in every situation, conflict, and circumstance here or at home or in any place in life.

I like to think that way back when Larry's dear mom made the sacrifices she did for her boy and instilled hard work ethics into him, God was already working out His perfect plan for his life. That's just the God we serve. Jeremiah 29:11 "Oh the plans I have for you," says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future" was already at work in him when he was a latch-key kid, becoming responsible and able to be independent. God was at work in him when his coach became a male role model that would point him to doing what's right. God was at work in him when he moved to Tulsa for work and met my daughter and received Christ into his life. God was at work in him as he has become the most incredible husband, dad and even son to me, and who is the role model to so many others in business, in life and in his walk with God. Yes, Larry became the best version of himself.....What Would Jesus Do? not only was his mode of operation way back when, but it lives out in him daily. Maybe we should start living "What Would Jesus Do?" in our own lives to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be!