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Aaron Johnson: The Great One


I received my master’s degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in 1987 and my doctorate in education from the same school in 2003. Along the way, I earned all my teaching hours at the University of Alabama and also earned my Doctorate in Service. All of this means I’m a slow learner and have gone to too much school to be functionally useless yet.

I met many professors along the way. None of them can stand in the shadow of the great man, Dr. CC Randall. Although he was only 5 feet 5 inches tall, he was a giant. No professor could measure his heart or passion.

One day, during a required class, Dr. Randall deviated from the lecture. He did this often, and these were his greatest lessons, and this was the greatest of all. In the middle of his lecture he stopped and waved his arm like a machine gun at the entire large class. Then he said, “Tell me one thing everyone! You take football out of the pulpit.

“Your passion for your team may be what keeps people away from making the most important decisions of their lives.”

Sitting in the front center, directly in front of Dr. Randall, was a large man who often slept during class. He woke up from his sleep just in time for this exchange.

“I don’t know where you’re from, but I’m from Jackson, Miss. You see, Jackson is a football town. It’s home to the University of Mississippi, Jackson State University, and every year Ole Miss and Southern Miss play a rivalry game in Jackson. We are doing

“Dr. Randall, I don’t know where you’re from, but football is in the pulpit in Jackson, Mississippi.”

Dr. Randall stood next to the podium, holding the podium with his left hand at the height of his left shoulder, and calmly answered: But for his 22 years, I was the pastor at First His Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. That year was his sixth national championship, and Bryant, like many of the players you know from playing in the NFL, was a frequent visitor to church services.

“Football has no place in the pulpit of First Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.”

It was the only time in my entire higher education career that I stood up and clapped with tears in my eyes.

Dr. Randall knew nothing about social media. If he had known, he would no doubt have issued an equally stern warning about flaunting personal passions, politics, or agendas that would distract someone from hearing the more important message. Dew. Life-changing truths are more important than my team, my party, my opinions, and even my rights.

When someone finds a higher purpose in life, it is easy to sacrifice all other lesser purposes for that higher purpose. I love seeing people succeed. I love watching people grow. I love seeing people move on from places they’ve been stuck in for decades and find new places in life. In short, that is my purpose in life. It’s about helping people find a better way.

I hope my social media footprint isn’t enough evidence to say whether I’m a Democrat or a Republican. Auburn or Alabama fans. Or other factors that prevent you from finding a better way.

The deliberate sacrifice of expressing my personal opinion is a small price to pay in order for you to live a full and meaningful life. Maybe a great person said something like that.

Thank you, Dr. Randall.

Aaron Johnson is a contributor to Yellowhammer News. He is the pastor of Christ Redeemer Church in Guntersville.

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