Are You Strong?

Haleyville High


I was honored and humbled to be ask to come back home to speak to my alma mater.  It has been a long time since I attended the Haleyville Lions Football Banquet.  Our motto is Home of Champions and my speech centered around that theme.

I wanted to give my best speech ever.  I rewrote it 20 times.  I prayed about it asking God to use me as a vessel to deliver a message that would be transformational.  Finally, I was prepared and motivated.

Then a friend called to congratulate me on being chosen to speak.  He said,”You know you have some big shoes to fill.  Last year we had All Pro Hall of Famer John Hannah give the speech.”

Ugggg.  Why did he have to tell me that, and I began to compare myself with John Hannah and his legend. Needless to say, my self confidence took a hit.  I started having doubts and fears and all I could imagine was all my old friends watching me flop in front of the home crowd.

Then I listened to a podcast by Dr. Kevin Elko.  He told a story about a mission trip his church had taken to visit an African tribe and they witnessed a strange greeting among the tribal members.  When they met, one would say, “Are you strong?”

The other responded with, “I am strong if you are strong.”

The first countered with, “I’m Strong.”

Then finally the second would say, “Then I am strong.”

Dr. Elko spoke to the Florida State Seminoles just prior to the BCS Championship game with Auburn.  He told them this story about the tribe in Africa, and talked about how the team should be strong for each other.  How they should build each other up.

During the game Florida State got down 21 to 3 in the second quarter.  This is the time when lots of teams begin to panic and start making mistakes.

Instead, Jamis Winston came into the huddle and said, “Are you strong?”

His teammates responded, “I am strong if you are strong.”

Jamis said, “I’m strong.”

They responded, “Then I’m strong.”

We know how that story turned out… A National Championship.

On the way to my speaking event, those doubts and fears began to surface in me again and I recognized it as a weakness in my inner man.  I remembered Dr. Elko’s message, but I didn’t have a teammate to interact with and then it occurred to me.  I have the best teammate imaginable.

I looked to heaven and said, “Are you strong.”

I knew that answer.

Then I said to myself, “Then I am strong if you are strong.”

And you know what?  A peace came over me and the strength and confidence returned to my inner man.

Though I was not 100% satisfied with my delivery, I gave my best and I felt strong doing it.  I leave the outcome and impact of the message to God.

Do you have a story you can share about how God or others have made you strong?

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