Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Story of Horizontal Grace

"For me, a magnificent example of horizontal grace came by watching the late Tom Landry while he was still coaching the Dallas Cowboys. During the time he and I served on the board of Dallas Theological Seminary, I often sat next to him and found him to be a man of quiet dignity. The closer you got, the more you respected him. He was a man who lived under God’s grace, and he gave it away like few I’ve seen. This came into clear focus in his response to Woody Hayes.

"Hayes coached the Ohio State football team for 28 years and took General George Patton as his model of leadership. His hard-nosed discipline gained him a reputation for being fiery. He was very difficult to please, had little tolerance for failure, and sometimes crossed the line when disciplining a player. Over his career, Hayes amassed an incredible win-loss record, but he also created a long list of offenses against players, parents, fans, and sports reporters. During the 1978 Gator Bowl, an opposing player intercepted an Ohio State pass and wound up on the Buckeyes’s sideline. Infuriated, Woody Hayes slugged the boy, nearly knocking off his helmet—all on national television.

"Appropriately, Ohio State fired him the next day. But in the weeks that followed, the nation raged, reporters mercilessly piled on, and anyone with a grudge vented his spleen on the humiliated coach. He retreated in silence and shame behind drawn drapes and locked doors.

"During that time, Coach Tom Landry was to attend a prestigious banquet in New York and he was free to ask a guest to join him. Normally, he would have taken his wife, Alicia. But this time he appeared with Woody Hayes. Landry’s poignant act of grace lifted Hayes out of his shame and silenced his tormenters. Grace has a way of doing that.

"I asked Coach Landry about it at our next board meeting. He said, “I figured that since everybody else was beating up on him, he needed somebody to put an arm around him and tell him he still loved him.” Can you imagine how that felt for Coach Woody Hayes? When he was bent low, feeling ashamed . . . deserving nothing, Landry bent down, lifted him up, and embraced him."

It's Time to Embrace Grace by Embracing the Unlovely by Charles R. Swindoll

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