The story of football superstar Tony Nathan was what inspired the movie called Woodlawn. It’s setting was during the time of the Jesus Revolution of the 1970s that transformed an entire state.
The story of what triggered that spiritual revival can be traced back to events that took place in Woodlawn High. What inspires me the most is that one person made a difference that overcame racial discrimination in Alabama State.
Here are 10 memorable quotes from the movie Woodlawn:
1. “When I get beat, it’s gonna happen occasionally, I like to get beat by an opponent worthy of my respect.” ~ Bear Bryant
If you’re going to lose at something let it not be because you didn’t give your best effort. It’s better to lose because you were outperformed despite your best effort and keep your head held high. No one likes to lose and high achievers tend to have competitive personalities, wanting to win all the time.
When you do lose, it’s important to be gracious in defeat, learn from your shortcomings, and do better next time. No one likes to be around a sore loser but it is good sportsmanship to acknowledge the competition when they win.
2. “I’m asking you to choose Jesus. Can you do that? Will you do that? With me, right now!” ~ Hank Erwin
Boldness in the Christian faith is something of a rarity in the present age; back in the day believers fought for the gospel and were unashamed of spreading the gospel. For the most part today, believers focus on their personal ambitions and give little attention to spreading the good news. In this movie scene, Hank challenges the football team to accept Christ and love one another.
That act of boldness would go on to make history and transform an entire state for the better. Alabama was rife with racial segregation at the time; but through the example of love set by the football team, the love of Jesus spread throughout the state.
3. “Maybe God is testing us. He wants to know that our commitment is real; not just to win football games.” ~ Hank Erwin
Oftentimes we show our commitment to God only when we expect Him to do something in return. That commitment is tested when things aren’t going as you expect them to, and our motives get exposed. God is not a genie who’s going to grant every wish of yours, He is your Lord.
Whether you get your desired outcome or not, you must worship Him because He is God. When you don’t get what you want, it’s not because God doesn’t want you to enjoy His blessings. He is more concerned about where your heart is because that’s the most important thing.
4. “I think that sometimes before you can have new dreams in this life the old ones have to be taken away from you.” ~ Hank Erwin
God created you and me with a freewill to make our own decisions which differ for everyone. It’s both a good and bad thing, in that He’s not a controlling God and that our own choices can be destructive. When you choose to go your own way that isn’t part of God’s plan, at some point you’ll get frustrated; this is because He’s not obliged to finish what He didn’t start.
When you surrender your will and dreams to God He will give you new ones. They will be much better than what you would have planned in the first place.
5. “When you play for yourself you can be great. But when you play for something higher than yourself, that’s when something extraordinary can happen.” ~ Hank Erwin
Learning to look at life from the big picture point of view, gives you clarity on what’s most important. Being self-centered limits your potential because it can’t be fully exploited without the involvement of other people. At an individual level, it requires that you get out of your own way.
When everyone on a team give up their individual ambition for the collective team goal, amazing things happen. For the Woodlawn High football team, the transformation of an entire state with the gospel was the reward.
6. “I told God that I don’t know if you’re real. But I want whatever my players have.” ~ Tandy Gerelds
The Woodlawn football coach was a cynical person who only believed in what he saw, was moved by his team. He was one of the people that felt that it was impossible for black and white people to get along. After the team committed their lives to God they began to love on one another which surprised their coach.
When they won a game that seemed impossible, Tandy became convinced of the Savior and gave his life to Christ. Your demonstration of the love of Christ is the most effective way to lead other people to Him.
7. “Here’s the question: if you only love those that love you back, what kind of love is that?” ~ Preacher
In the Bible, Jesus said we are to love our enemies and to do good to those that persecute us. It’s easy to love people that love you back, but a different story to love those that are against you. True love is demonstrated by showing love to your enemies as it gives opportunity to minister to them.
The love of God is transformational and those who don’t know God get to experience Him through you. Look at loving your enemies as an opportunity to harvest more souls for the kingdom of God.
8. “My momma wanted me to be a preacher but I told her coaching and preaching is pretty much the same thing. We both serve something greater than ourselves.” ~ Bear Bryant
Ministry isn’t confined to the four walls of the church building but is done in every area of life. Whatever your work is, that is your ministry; and the people you serve are your congregation. Whether you’re an executive, a bus driver, plumber, or clerk, your work is a form of ministry to others.
People should see the glory of God in you through the way you do your work. Your actions speak louder than your words and have a greater impact on others than only your words.
9. “The good book says, ‘where there is no vision the people perish.’ That means people can’t live without hope. They need it like they need air. I say, go give it to ’em.” ~ Junior Nathan
The way to give other hope is to show them what’s possible. Tony Nathan was the only black superstar on his team and became a symbol of hope to his community. After some disturbing events that had happened to his family, he contemplated giving up football to protect them. His father encouraged him to continue nonetheless as he realized what Tony meant to those who looked up to him.
There are times you might feel like giving up on your dreams, it happens to every one of us. You must remember though that others are counting on you to so you should keep pushing yourself.
10. “Rings collect dust, but that right there; that lasts forever.” ~ Shorty White
This was a reference to what was better, winning a trophy or investing in a great player’s life. Accolades you win are forgotten over time but the investment you make in other people lasts for eternity. Life is more than the win-loss column but is more importantly about the difference you make in other people’s lives. Even if you’re never recognized publicly for the investment you make in others, God sees and will reward you. Making a difference in other people and leading them to Christ is the best investment you can make here on earth.