My brother and I had the great honor of accepting a character award for my father at the Oak Ridge football game last night.
My dad and his little brother had been football phenomenons there, going on to both play college ball and coach.
I was always proud to mention my maiden name was “Pope” but for far more than my dad’s athletic skills.
As long as I can recall, people have told me stories of how my dad, as a teacher and coach, has impacted their lives.
My dad retired nearly 30 years ago. Still, last night, in tears, former students and players, now old and gray-headed, told me story after story of how much dad had caused them to be better men.
They recounted how he always encouraged them to make good choices, and do good things. They told stories, unheard of today, of how he would show up at players’ houses to ask their parents how they were behaving, even asking if they kept their rooms tidy!
My dad wanted those around him to be more than great athletes. He wanted them to be great men.
He saw the potential for that in everyone God brought into his path. He saw a responsibility to impact others and inspire them to love and good works. (Heb 10:24)
Last night, though Dad was unable to attend, he’s 91 now and has dementia, we FaceTimed with him and some of his former players in attendance.
His eyes welled up with tears, and for a few moments, he miraculously recognized those grey-headed men as the boys he had once coached. He began to compliment and encourage them. It was all I could do not to be a bucket of tears!
And I thought about my recent study of Philippians, and how I’ve watched my father, still today, even with dementia,“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Phil 2:3-4)
It’s not lost on me, how God has used this Christ-like mindset in my father to impact me and countless others.
Oh friends, may we live our lives encouraging others. May we look not only to our own interests; but may God open our eyes to the interests of others, for their good and God’s glory.
Oh, how I wish you could have seen the smiles and the tears last night. There sure is blessing when we seek to live our lives following godly principles. ❤️
And I sure am blessed to be Coach Pope’s daughter!