The Olivet Eagles made national news when their football team advanced the ball to the goal line but chose to stop before scoring.  It was a team decision and a team effort, much to the coach’s chagrin.  The coach wasn’t upset for long, however.  The team scored on the next play, because of a very special player.  They scored a lot more than a touchdown that day, and that is why they made national news.

Steve Hartman does a segment titled “On The Road” (watch video) for the CBS news.  He told the story of a young man named Keith, a special needs student at the Olivet Middle School.  The plan was to “make someone’s day – make someone’s week – make someone happy” according to one of the players interviewed.  Keith is on the football team and is known for running up to the players at odd times to give them a hug.  Keith doesn’t understand the normal “middle school boundaries” on such behavior.  But Keith is one of the team and the other players take his unique behaviors in stride.  In fact, they decided to step away from their own normal behaviors in order to make Keith’s day.

They were playing a regular season game when they took the ball to the goal line, but not across it.   The players grabbed Keith before the next play and ran him onto the field.  (This was not a play the coach was calling or even aware of.)  The ball was snapped, handed to Keith and, with the entire team surrounding him for protection, Keith ran it across the goal line achieving his first touchdown.  The crowd went wild and Keith was lifted to the player’s shoulders, ball in hand.

Keith described the moment as “awesome.”  The other team members described their feelings as well.  As great as that touchdown was for Keith, it meant more to the players that had planned, schemed and then executed that opportunity.  These middle school boys wanted to give Keith the chance to make a touchdown, but in the process, they learned how great it felt to make Keith happy and put him first.

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{/source}I don’t often describe the evening news as “feel-good” television.  It was wonderful to see Keith’s story (trouble with video?).  I was curious and went to the school’s website to read more about the “Olivet Eagles.”  I clicked on the tab marked “Character Ed Program” and found this sentence:  “The focus of the Network and character assemblies is to teach our students how to be a person of integrity and good character.  The four main values that define how we operate are: respect, honesty, responsibility and kindness.”  Those football players are paying attention at those assemblies!

I want to pay attention as well.  There is enormous power in acts of kindness.  Too often we forget that kindness should be our high priority as a Christian.  Jesus taught his disciples, “in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12).  Paul taught, “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).   He also taught, “Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (1 Corinthians 13:4).

The most powerful witness we have today may not be our ability to recite those verses or explain their theological meaning.  Our most powerful witness will be the way we demonstrate our devotion to them in our daily lives.   Who will have an “awesome” moment today because of you?  Who has blessed you with an act of kindness?  If God leads, share your story with us in the comment section.  

I hope the video inspires all of us to make personal kindness a very high priority for our Christian character.  I’d like those football players to know they inspired more than a touchdown!

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