Thirty-eight thousand, four hundred pounds. What could you buy with that amount of money? You could buy a very nice car. You could buy 102,000 pints of milk. Or you could buy a pair of football boots, which is exactly what somebody did this week. What was it about these boots that made them so valuable to somebody? Are they made of some exotic material? No. Do they guarantee the wearer superhuman footballing skills? No. Are they made to a special, futuristic design? No. Somebody paid thirty-eight thousand, four hundred pounds for a pair of football boots because they were said to have been worn by Sir Stanley Matthews in the 1953 FA Cup Final, in which he inspired Blackpool’s victory over Bolton.
You don’t need me to tell you that Sir Stan is a hero around here and around the country. We still encourage young players to look up to him, to aspire to his example. His hard work coupled with sublime skill. His discipline and self control, so great that he was never booked. The way in which he looked after his body so that it could keep playing far beyond those of his contemporaries. All of these are praiseworthy and worthy of emulation.
I wonder who your heroes are? Who do you look up to, whose example do you want to follow. It might be a parent, or another member of the family. It might be a work colleague, or a friend from school, maybe even a teacher. Or is it someone famous, a celebrity, a singer or actor? Who do you want to be like? Have you deliberately chosen your role models or do they affect you without you noticing it?
I wonder who looks to you for an example? Who watches what you do and copies it? Who notices what you’re saying or doing, and follows along after. Who notices your attitude to other people and takes up those attitudes? As I was sitting in a cafe in Hanley thinking about what I would say this morning, an advert came on the radio looking for people who would act as positive role models to children in our local schools. It struck me that we are all role models in some way, we don’t have a choice about that, what we have a choice about is what kind of role model we are.
This reality is recognised by Paul in his letter to the Christians in and around Philippi. Paul knew that people are wired so that they are affected by the people around them.