Think a minute…This is a true story about a big-time hero in a small town. He was a local legend and the most influential man in his community. But the star of this story was not a politician or a successful businessman. Keith Howard was simply a high school football coach who made a big difference in the lives of those who knew him.
Coach Keith used to say: “In the end teenagers don’t do what you tell them, they do what you do and live how you live.” So he taught and showed teenage boys how to be real men through his example of honest, kind, and responsible character.
Keith lived almost his entire life of 48 years in the small town of Lincoln, Alabama. “Black or white, rich or poor, he treated you like a brother,” his assistant coach Chad Martin said. “Coach Keith knew the game of football better than anyone I knew. But when he hired me as an assistant, he wanted to know if I was a family man and loved kids…’Do that and the kids will take a lot more into the real world than just football,’ he said.”
Assistant Chad went on to say: “When Coach Keith suddenly died during one of our games, the last thing he said to me was ‘I love you.’ I said, ‘I love you too, Coach’…My mentor, my boss, my best friend, the guy I leaned on for everything…was gone.”
In fact, almost everybody in the town lost their hero when they lost Coach Keith. Even though Lincoln, Alabama was a poor, low-income area, Coach Keith’s strong, honest and kind character so inspired people to sacrifice and give that they were able to build a high-quality sports stadium for their young people. His assistant Chad said: “Keith was a role model, a counselor, your best friend. Every school has those people—but he was all that wrapped into one.”
Big stories of national and international news come and go, but it is the big-time heroes in small, local communities who really influence and change our lives. Coach Keith made his short life count for what matters. Perhaps you know someone like him in your town. But more importantly, you can choose to become like him yourself. Won’t you ask God to take full charge of your character and way of living? With Jesus changing your heart and leading your life, you can inspire others to give their very best and become all that He made them to be. Just think a minute…