It was, without a doubt, one of the lowest periods in my life. I was broke and jobless, living in the wake of my own failures. My whole world had turned upside down. I was torn between two directions – to stay in that part of the world that I had always considered home, or to venture out to a place I had only seen on trips to my in-laws’ house.
My wife wanted to be near her parents during that season. I wanted to live in Anywhere Else, USA. “If the world was flat,” I said, “Lubbock would be on the edge of it!”
But my world was flat. Our family divided. Our children scared and hurt. And I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know anybody in Lubbock. I had no network, no support there. But to be fair to Robin, I had to try.
I made a phone call to my pastor. Did he know anybody? As a matter of fact, yes. As another matter of fact, the man he knew happened to be in Mobile, where I was staying at the time. He owned a business there, my pastor said, and gave me the phone number. He was really busy, but would be able to squeeze in a few minutes to visit with me about a possible job in Lubbock.
I called. “This is Andy Wood. May I speak to Mister….”
“Oh, you want to speak to Dan”? the lady said in a relaxed voice. “He’s in a meeting right now, but wanted to know if you could come by at 2:00 today”?
“I’ll be there.”
I put on my best suit and grabbed a new resume on linen paper. I was a textbook interviewee. But there was no hiding the fact that I needed him far more than he needed me. He was friendly and gracious, but honest.
“You’re not worth much to me right now,” he said. “But I can offer you a job as a sales trainee and provide you with a car.” He then offered a salary that was gracious for him, but only about half what I had made in my previous job. We never said it, but he and I both knew that, in my current distress, I had to keep looking. But he knew something more. He knew I was living in the land of the walking wounded.
I shook his hand to leave, and he held on to it, looking me in the eye with a gaze that was warm, but strong.
“If our paths never cross again,” he said, “there is something I want you to remember. Don’t let people keep score. You know, people love to keep score.” Then he repeated his encouragement: “Don’t let people keep score.”
I needed to hear that. The encouragement helped, far more than he or I realized in that parting moment.
I eventually did move to Lubbock a few months later… kicking and screaming, mad at God, my “last act of surrender” (I thought)… but that’s a story for another time.
I was tooling around town one day, on the sprawling campus of Texas Tech University. I saw a sign and did a double-take. Then I passed it – Dan Law Field, Texas Tech’s baseball stadium. The same Dan Law who didn’t know me or owe me, but had cleared off a spot in his busy schedule to offer me a job and, even more important, some encouragement.
“Who WAS that guy”? I asked.
Time passed, and with it, my good intentions. I had often thought of trying to look Dan up and say thanks for the encouragement on a day I really needed it. Occasionally I even thought of cold-calling him on the phone, but didn’t.
Five years later, through another set of strange circumstances, I had the privilege of preaching for the first time at Lubbock’s First Baptist Church. After the early service, a very gracious lady walked up to express her appreciation for the message.
“I’m Mrs. Dan Law,” she said.
I looked at her bug-eyed. “Have you got a minute”? I asked. “I have a story I want to tell you.”
She was delighted, of course, and told me that I’d have my opportunity to say thank-you in the second service. And thank him I did.
Dan Law is a successful businessman, who understands the power of leaving a legacy. He’s also wise enough to understand that legacies are made of more than financial generosity. To Red Raider baseball, he may have been a benefactor whose name will live on long after his lifetime. But he’ll live on in my lifetime as a man who made a difference with encouragement.
Benjamin Disraeli once wrote, “The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.” On a lonely day a long time ago, a man who owed me nothing did that for me. And to thank him, I have decided to pay it forward.
Want to join me?
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