Some of the most powerful lessons you learn in life are unplanned.
On December 17th and 18th Coach Don Meyer, Lipscomb University’s former basketball coach, and Buster Olney from ESPN came to Lipscomb for a luncheon and two days of book signing. Olney’s book, How Lucky You Can Be – The Story of Coach Don Meyer, is in its fifth printing and doing very well nationally.
I had worked on promoting the visit and coordinating with our campus bookstore on how many books they should have on hand for purchase. I planned on helping Coach and Buster get set up and then go about my normal business. What actually ended up happening I could have never predicted and I would never trade.
Far more people showed up for the book signings than we ever dreamed. The line stretched out into the concourse both days. It was always 60-70 people long and never seemed to shrink. Someone bringing in one book to be signed was rare. Most brought at least two. Some brought five, six, 11, 36 at a time.
I decided to jump in and do whatever I could to help speed up the line. For over 16 hours over those two days I opened over 1,100 books to the title page, asked each person in line who they wanted their book personalized to, wrote the names on post-it notes and then handed them to Coach and Buster to sign.
I had the easy job.
From 11:30 a.m. to almost 9:30 p.m. on Friday and 5 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, Coach and Buster wrote a personalized note in each and every book. Coach’s notes were in cursive writing, usually 3-4 sentences in length. Every note was different. If he knew the person in line the note was very personal in nature. If he didn’t know the person in line he asked enough questions until he could get an angle for his note. Then he signed his name.
What he did next was unprecedented at any book signing I’ve ever attended or read about. Under his name, Coach wrote out four scripture references in each and every book.
Throughout the two days I picked up little pieces of the puzzle as to why he picked those four verses.
“If we humble ourselves, God will lift us up,” said Coach. “If we do His job for Him, He’ll do ours for us.”
Coach made it clear that he had written the four references in the order he had written them on purpose.
“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” – James 4:10
“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Luke 14:11
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” – James 3:13
“Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.” – Ecclesiastes 5:19-20
Coach has every reason to be bitter, to withdraw and basically give up who he’s been for the last 65 years. The wreck, the amputated left leg, the countless follow-up surgeries, the cancer and the fatigue associated with it that forced him to leave the profession he loved would be easy scapegoats.
Instead, he continues to teach and coach – just sometimes in unplanned ways he doesn’t even realize.
Coach, thank you for helping make an eternal difference!
* If you’d like to send Coach Meyer a note of encouragement, his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. He will be speaking at a men’s prayer breakfast at Brentwood Hills Church of Christ in Nashville next Saturday, January 8 at 7 a.m. To RSVP for that event, please call 615-832-2541. He is also scheduled to conduct a seminar on leadership on Tuesday, September 6th in Nashville. For more information on that event, please email email@example.com.
Happy New Year!