Today we celebrate one of my favorite holidays of the year – Christmas! This day tends to embody the spirit of giving across the world between family and loved ones. More importantly, families will receive an opportunity to share good times with those they rarely get a chance to see on a consistent basis. I, myself, will receive the chance to interact with my own loved ones and catch up on the current events in their lives. I certainly look forward to the familiar faces and the loving hugs and kisses that the holidays bring. To share time and love with family and friends is one of God’s greatest gifts that He has given to the world.
Another one of God’s great gifts is the gift of encouragement. The wonderful thing about this gift is you can share a nice and gentle word of praise at any time of the year. Words of encouragement doesn’t just serve the purpose of helping an individual through their toughest times, but it also has the ability to serve for a lifetime far beyond current problems and situations. Words of kindness are like planting seeds into fertile ground.
Although they may take time to bear witness the fruits of your labor, with a little time and patience, your words could pay handsome dividends in the future.
Growing up, my father was the most influential person in my life. He always believed in my abilities and talents, particularly in athletics, even before I ever had any idea of what my greatest gifts were. . I recall my father taking long drives into my hometown with my brother and me. He would use this time to impart his great wisdom and knowledge into the young and impressionable minds of me and my brother. In this particular instance, I was about 10 years old. My dad was never hesitant about sharing his thoughts and what he believed his vision for his children’s’ lives should be. On this particular day he was sharing with me his thoughts about how he envisioned my career as a football player. His words were “You are big, fast, and strong. You have the tools to be as good as you want to be. There is no excuse when it is all said and done that you can’t be an All-American if you work hard.” At ten years of age it was extremely difficult to understand the level of expectation that was just laid before me in that conversation. I hadn’t even played one single game of organized football yet and I was already an All- American in the eyes of my father.
The most incredible thing to me at that point in time and presently is that my father believed in me before I knew to believe in myself. That’s what strong words of encouragement can provide to any individual. My father provided me with an exact direction for my life according to the ability that he observed in me. The seeds were, indeed, planted and with time and patience the fruits of my father’s words would surely reap the harvest that he envisioned. I definitely encountered struggles in my quest to pursue my All- American status, especially in my adolescent and teenage years, but my father’s words always remained prevalent in my mind. As it was important for me to not deviate from the path that I felt was placed before me. Those words helped me through every single tough and challenging situation that I would face along the way.
One day during my senior year of college my head coach called me into his office. That was never a good sign, but
I always maintained a good reputation and worked my hardest to keep my nose clean and stay out of trouble, so I was confident that it had nothing to do with any disciplinary action. As I entered his office, he wore a half smile on his face. He was a tough; no non-sense type of coach, so the fact that he had an inkling of a smile on his face meant that he was well over joyed and proud of something. His first words were “Congratulations.” He then showed me the All- American selections that regularly came out right before each season began. As I begin to hear the words of my father replay in my mind, there it was my name in bold print “Aaron DeBerry 2003 Sporting News FCS All- American Team Honorable Mention.” The shock and amazement that roared within me was probably the most overwhelming experience that I had ever felt since playing the game of football. My father passed away long before he and I had a chance to celebrate the joy and happiness of his very words 11 years prior. I, wholeheartedly, feel it only happened because he spoke those words of encouragement and greatness into my life.
If I had to a chose a crucial time or period in which I made a conscious decision to be great, it would have to be during that conversation with my father at ten years old. He planted a seed in my heart that made me believe that I could achieve all that he thought I could achieve. The craziest part of it all was that I was silly enough to attempt to live up to his words with no clear idea of what would happen or where it would take me in the end. I also had no idea of the disappointments and heart breaks I would suffer along the way either, but it didn’t matter. Regardless of the obstacle that was placed in front of me, I still had important business to take care of. My father gave me specific instructions and getting them accomplished was the only thing that mattered, simply because he told me I could do it.
When you speak life into another person’s dreams, ambitions, and goals you never know the impact of your very words. Sometimes, all it takes is a few words of thoughtfulness from an influential person in your life to jump start your journey. We all need and should welcome words of encouragement to follow our dreams. Although my father served as the pioneer of setting the standard for my dreams, he wasn’t the only individual to assist me along the way. Once the course of your success is set, you must stay the course. That certainly takes many individuals along the way to keep you focused and determined to see your goals fulfilled.
My career as a player is certainly over. Never in my wildest dreams would I think I would be able to take advantage of some the opportunities that I have had a chance to experience in my life thus far. Currently, my sole purpose is to pour that same level of encouragement and focus into the players that I come in contact with now. More than just being a football coach, my number one purpose on this earth is to inspire, influence, nurture, and empower the dreams of others in the same fashion that my father provided to me. The greatest feeling for me at the conclusion of every school year is knowing that I was given the opportunity to share a moment in time by offering encouragement and guidance to another maturing young man. As they get older there will come a moment in time in which they will then be responsible to pass on the same words of encouragement and guidance to a younger generation – the same way that I and others before me have had an opportunity to give to them. Thus, the gift that keeps on giving. The great thing about providing encouraging words is that you don’t need to be a coach, like myself or a in a position of leadership. Kind words can simple but powerful. They breathe life to failing dreams and strength into stagnant ambitions. Decide in your heart today to be the reason for someone dreams by offering strong words of encouragement. Your deeds will continue to bless those far beyond your reach. May God bless you and your family today, and I hope have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year.
Written by Coach DeBerry