In Matthew 23:11 Jesus Christ made the following statement: "But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant." If you go back and read verses 1 through 10, it is pretty apparent that Jesus is speaking about the hypocrisy of religious and secular leaders who were saying one thing but doing another. They were puffed up in their own importance and position, not really earning the love and respect of their own people.
In August of every year, I take a team of golfers to my hometown in southern Iowa, where we compete in the Clyde & Virginia Carney Memorial Golf Tournament—a tournament designed to allow old friends and colleagues to get together, play some golf and raise money for student scholarships through the local school districts.
Once play is finished, the scores are tabulated, the results posted and then we head into the clubhouse for a sit-down meal where tourney prizes are passed out and special acknowledgments are made.
One of the playing guests is then asked to the podium where he or she gives a brief speech about both their business and personal involvement with Clyde Carney and what he meant to their life and the good he brought to those he had "touched" by how he had lived his life and why his memory lives on.
Clyde was a well-respected and well-liked sporting goods salesman whose territory covered much of southern and central Iowa. Everybody associated with schools and sports knew Clyde Carney and considered him "one of their own."
He refereed basketball and football games for many years. He was the starter at track meets, both high school and middle school, and everyone knew what he stood for when it came to athletics and achievement. He believed in fairness for all involved. He believed that the playing field should always be "level" for all competitors, so individual abilities—even in team settings—would come to the forefront where those who should win, did win.
Clyde believed in the rules. A "true champion" abides by the rules and everyone should honor those rules, whether it is the coaches, the players, the referees, the umpires or the parents. Clyde believed in the "process" and the "honesty" of the athletic endeavor. Winning was important, yes, but participating was just as important. He guarded those who came in last, as much as he did those who won the event. Always praising, always exhorting their efforts, Clyde was there to make sure they knew he was proud of them whether they won or not.
In his work, he made sure schools got the equipment they needed for whatever sport was in season. And, there were always the stories how some athlete (girl or boy; didn't matter) might not have the money for some shoes or a glove or a pair of pants. Somehow, some way, the shoes or the glove or the pants always got to that athlete, prepaid. We knew, though, that Clyde had financed the cost from his own pocket.
He worked in the background of so many people's lives it just seemed natural that if a sporting event was going on, Clyde was going to be there, doing what he could to make sure it was a success, and that the participants got a "fair shake" on a level playing field. He knew you by name; would shake your hand and ask how things were going. He made you feel important and valued and relevant. He would always ask if you needed anything or how he could help. It was his creed of life.
And, everyone knew him by his first name, "Clyde". He never acted more important than anyone else. You felt he was your friend and you were his. Clyde Carney was a special, great man whose love of the game, and of life itself, was tempered by always setting high standards.
But, most importantly, the real legacy of Clyde Carney was that he "served" us. He was our servant. He loved doing things for people while expecting very little in return, except for us to be gentlemen and ladies in our lives, to play hard and play fair and to strive for a life filled with meaning and success. It is a lesson timeless in its value for all of us; especially in today's world.
How much better would the world be, if all become more like Clyde—serving others more while making the lives of those around us better!