A coach’s influence

Dr. John Ed Mathison

By John Ed Mathison

I love coaches.  I don’t know of any profession that has the opportunity to impact young people’s lives in a positive manner any more than coaches.  I know I’m biased because I love sports, but coaches have had such an impact on my life.  I’ve heard, “If somebody gets a foot in the door with young people – it will have cleats on it.”

I have been influenced in high school and college by wonderful coaches.  I’ve met many great coaches in the junior high, high school and college arena.  I’ve had the opportunity to speak at 4 different coaches conferences this year.

A few years ago I was speaking at a coaches conference and met coach Chan Gailey.  I was with him recently when he came to speak at the Montgomery Quarterback Club.  He is a great example of what an influence a coach can have.  I had an opportunity to visit with him and then write an article about him for the Montgomery Advertiser.

Coach Gailey was a 3-year high school All-State selection as quarterback at Americus, Georgia.  He played quarterback and was a 3-year letterman at the University of Florida.  He was a very successful college coach at the Air Force Academy, Georgia Tech, and Troy University.  He led the Trojans to a 12-1 record and the Division II National Championship in 1984!

His success continued in the NFL.  He was head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills.  He is the only Cowboys coach to make the playoffs every season with his team!  He also served on the staffs of Kansas City Chiefs, New York Jets, Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins.

Coach Gailey is a strong Christian.  When asked about the greatest influence in his life outside of football, he immediately responded, “From my mother, father, and most of all Jesus Christ.”  He said, “I stand before you today, not as a coach who professes Christianity, but as a Christian who happens to coach for a living.  And there’s a big difference in those two!”  Read Col. 3:23-24 and Psalm 1:1-3.

Several players from that National Championship Troy team were present for his Quarterback Club speech.  They have a great admiration for Coach Gailey and give him lots of credit for their success in life today.  He was noted for his impeccable character and integrity.  He always coached players as if they were his own sons.  He believed in playing winning football, but more importantly helping young men become all that God created them to be.

One of those players was Mike Turk, the current head football coach at Huntingdon College.  For about 10 years, I spoke to the Jeff Davis high school football team every week.  Mike was a player.  He was small, but a great quarterback.  Everybody told Mike he was too small to play college football, but he doesn’t listen well!

When Mike graduated from high school, he did not play football his first year, but he missed it so much, he went to Troy as a walk-on.  Under Coach Gailey’s influence, he earned a scholarship, became a starter, became an All American, and led the Trojans to the National Championship!  I love to hear the stories about that season.

Several of the players shared with me that they are Christians today because of the influence of Coach Gailey!  One player said that Coach Gailey had the gift of being a strong disciplinarian, yet was respected by every player.  He said, “When he walked in the room, you could hear a pin drop.”  He also said that while playing for Coach Gailey at Troy, he never heard any cussing or any conversation inconsistent with living the Christian life.  What a witness!

You may not be a coach, but you have an opportunity to make a huge influence in the lives of a lot of people.  I challenge you to do in your sphere of influence what Coach Chan Gailey has done in his sphere.  If we all do that, the population of Heaven will be different, and life will be better for everyone!

Be a Barnabas!


Dr. John Ed Mathison

By Dr. John Ed Mathison

My dad used to tell the story about the time when the devil announced he was going out of business and would sell all of the tools of his trade.  On the day of the sale, he had all of his tools on display.  They were dangerous and bad looking.  On display were greed, envy, jealousy, hatred, sensuality, deceit, pride.  There was a price tag on each one.
   Away from these terrible looking tools of his trade, there was a very ominous, much-worn tool.  The price tag on it was much higher than the rest of them.
   When someone asked the devil about that tool, he said, “That’s discouragement.”  When asked why it was priced so high, he said, “Because it’s more useful to me than the others.  I can pry open and get inside a person’s consciousness with it when I could never get near that person with any of the other tools.  Once I get inside a person’s mind with discouragement, I can wreak havoc and pain, and very few people know it comes from me.”
   The amazing thing is that the devil’s price for discouragement was so high that it was never sold.  He is still using that tool today!
   Discouragement is one of the devil’s most effective tools.  Every person faces it.  The prescription for discouragement is encouragement.  That means to put courage into a person.  Everybody needs encouragement.  It is the best medicine many people could receive.
   I read about an interesting survey on the “attention span” for adults.  The average adult attention span will last for about 6 compliments, 5 encouragements, or 1 criticism.  We all have a healthy appetite to receive encouragement, but nobody likes criticism for dinner!
   One of my favorite Bible characters is Barnabas.  His name means “Son of Encouragement.”  Paul may have been thinking of Barnabas when he wrote 1 Thessalonians 5:11, exhorting us to “encourage and build each other up.”  Three verses later, Paul says to “encourage the timid.”
   There is a beautiful parable about a group of frogs that were traveling through the woods, and two of them fell into a deep pit.  The other frogs looked at the situation, saw how deep the pit was, and told the unfortunate frogs that they would never get out.  It was a discouraging situation.
   The two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump out of the pit.  The other frogs kept telling them there was no hope for them.  One of the trapped frogs listened to what the others were saying and finally gave up.  He fell down and died.
   The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could.  The other frogs continued to yell at him to stop the pain and suffering and just give up.  It made him jump even higher.  He finally made it out of the pit.  When his fellow frogs congratulated him, they asked him, “Why did you continue jumping?  Didn’t you hear us?”  The frog made no response.  They all soon realized that the frog was deaf.  All the time they were trying to discourage him, he thought they were encouraging him, so he never gave up!!
   Everybody is looking for some form of encouragement.  Today, you can participate in shortening the attention span of others by criticism, or you can expand their attention span by encouragement.  God said to Moses in Deuteronomy 3:28, “Encourage Joshua for he will lead the people across the Jordan.”  When Paul and Barnabas came to Antioch, Jewish leaders sent them this message: “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, come and give it” (Acts 13:15).
   Be a Barnabas today!

What’s Your HQ – Heart Quotient?



By Dr. John Ed Mathison

A couple of my friends have recently died unexpectedly from heart failure.  I had been with them in normal social settings just a couple days before their sudden death.  The heart is a strategic part of the human anatomy.  It must function effectively or we won’t stay alive.  About one in four deaths are the result of heart disease.

I read about a new $100 electrocardiogram machine about the size of two sticks of gum.  A person at risk with a heart condition can use this device to monitor their “ticker” without bulky equipment or frequent doctor’s visits.  Pressing his/her finger to the device for 30 seconds transmits a medical-grade EKG to their smartphone.

The AliveCor device is referred to as Kardia.  The company uses artificial intelligence to analyze their data and build the profile.  If the device detects a potential problem, the doctor is alerted to take a closer look.  Technology is helping to keep the heart healthy.  Kardia is experimenting with building this technology into smartphones, sensor-laden clothing, etc.  The goal is to make checking your heart as easy as checking your temperature.

Artificial hearts also have been developed.  These are used when a person is waiting on a heart transplant.  One biotech company is conducting clinical trials on an artificial heart developed from synthetic materials and cow-heart tissues and powered by tiny electric motors.  The first patient lived 74 days, but the second patient has exceeded that.  If further clinical trials are successful and the device receives Federal approval for commercial use, each artificial heart will cost about $180,000.

An artificial heart can be a substitute for a limited amount of time.  I understand there are about 4,000 donor hearts that come available each year, but 100,000 people are waiting for a heart transplant!

A Michigan man has a healthy heart but it’s in the wrong place!  When the man entered the hospital for tests, X-ray technicians thought they had put the film in backwards.  They discovered that the man’s heart was on the right side of his chest instead of the left side.  He had a rare, reversed-organ condition.  Figuratively speaking, always check to see that your heart is in the “right place!”

The essential contribution of our hearts to our physical condition is important to everyone.  But there is a spiritual dimension to the heart also.  I would suggest that it is more important than the physical function because the spiritual function is for this life but also for all eternity.  The spiritually healthy heart never stops beating!

The Bible gives high significance to the healthy spiritual heart.  John 7:37 says, “Out of the believer’s heart flows living waters.”  Romans 5:5 says, “God’s love is poured in our hearts.”  Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all diligence for out of it flows the issues of life.”  Matthew 6:21 says, “Where your treasure is there will be your heart also.”  If you want to know how healthy your heart is, look at how you use your money, time, ability, and resources.  Where you put your possessions indicates where your heart really is.

One day I received a phone call from one of my grandchildren.  He had just been attending a church function and was riding home.  He was very excited and said to me, “Pop Pop, I had to call you.  I wanted to tell you that I invited Jesus into my heart today.”  That was the best news that I could ever hear!  The health of the heart where Jesus resides is indescribable!

We all need to go to the Great Physician and have a heart check-up.  Is my heart in the right place?  Am I trying to stumble along with an artificial heart?  Can I check how healthy my heart is by examining what I do with my time and treasure?  Who resides in my heart?  Am I willing to follow the heart-healthy prescriptions of God’s Word?  The Great Physician is always ready to perform a heart transplant and give us a new heart!


What’s your HQ – Heart Quotient?