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During a practice session for the Green Bay Packers, things were not going well for Vince Lombardi’s team. Lombardi singled out one big guard for his failure to "put out." It was a hot, muggy day when the coach called his guard aside and leveled his awesome vocal guns on him, as only Lombardi could. "Son, you are a lousy football player. You’re not blocking, you’re not tackling, you’re not putting out. As a matter of fact, it’s all over for you today, go take a shower." The big guard dropped his head and walked into the dressing room.

Forty-five minutes later, when Lombardi walked in, he saw the big guard sitting in front of his locker still wearing his uniform. His head was bowed, and he was sobbing quietly. Vince Lombardi, ever the changeable but always the compassionate warrior, did something of an about-face that was also typical of him. He walked over to his football player and put his arms around his shoulder. "Son," he said, "I told you the truth. You are a lousy football player. You’re not blocking, you’re not tackling, and you’re not putting out. However, in all fairness to you, I should have finished the story. Inside of you, son, there is a great football player, and I’m going to stick by your side until the great football player inside of you has a chance to come out and assert himself."

With these words, Jerry Kramer straightened up and felt a great deal better. As a matter of fact, he felt so much better he went on to become one of the all-time greats in football, and a few years ago was voted the all-time guard in the first 50 years of professional football.

That was Lombardi. He saw things in men that they seldom saw in themselves. He had the ability to inspire his men to use the gifts they had. As a result, these players gave Lombardi three consecutive world championships at Green Bay.

(From a sermon by Jerry Shirley, "The Ideal Discipleship" 2/11/2009)

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