Meridian Star

September 21, 2013

From the Shepherd’s Heart

By Dr. John A. Temple / guest columnist
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     “He holds victory in store for the upright; he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless.” — Proverbs 2:7 (N.I.V.)

On Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, there was an awesome illustration in the

Meridian Star about integrity. It seems that Coach Nate Ballard of Russell Academy self reported an ineligible player violation that occurred during last season when they won the state championship for their league.

    As soon as Coach Ballard discovered the infraction, he reported it to the authorities. In so doing, Coach Ballard said, “. . . We care more about the integrity of our school and our staff than we do about a state championship.” This particular championship he is talking about is the first that Russell Academy had ever won. Yet, Coach Ballard values integrity more than the trophy.

    In a culture that considers “winning is everything,” it is a rare, yet powerful, day when anyone can value integrity enough to never compromise for anything.

    What is a trophy worth if it is tarnished by cheating and compromise? The team should be proud to say, “We have something no one can take from us, integrity.“

    I often hear that being involved in sports teaches young athletes how to live life. If that is so, I celebrate that there is a school that has not lowered the standards so a false sense of success may be claimed. The young people in Russell have seen a very important lesson in life. At the end of the day, we need to be respectable, consistent and honest.

    Proverbs 2:7 reminds us that God holds the victory for the upright. He will protect those who walk blamelessly. One day a tarnished trophy in a school display case will be overlooked because time has passed and other trophies crowd the case.

    However, the trophy of God’s approval stands above it all and lasts forever.

    Thank you, Russell Academy, for showing us what real winners look like!

    Dr. John A. Temple is pastor of Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church, located at 4032 Poplar Springs Drive in Meridian. Visit the church website online at www.