Carrying on the Legacy

by Dr. Nate Hearne

Legacy Given

My seventh grade science teacher, Mr. Clyde Haak and my seventh grade football coach, Coach Mark Wallace, both ignited my passion for living and leaving a positive legacy. They entered my life during my most formative years and imparted life impacting messages, which will remain with me forever.

I grew up in poverty. I’m the middle child of eight siblings, there would have been nine of us, but my youngest brother, Jessie, died two weeks after birth. The ten of us, including my mother and father, lived in a three-room house, not bedrooms, that sat on cinder blocks. The house consisted of a kitchen, a bedroom for my mother and father, and the third room served as a living room during the day and a bedroom for me and my brothers and sisters at night. There was no indoor bath facility and no hot water. We had to heat the water up on the stove to take a hot bath.

My mother worked as a domestic. If you have seen the movie The Help, that’s a great characterization of what my mother did all her life. The majority of the clothes we wore came from the homes my mother cleaned. I remember during my elementary years, having three shirts and three pairs of jeans, all with holes in them. Many times during those early years my older brother, Rayfield and I, would cut out cardboard to slip into the soles of our shoes to keep the heat of the pavement out in the summer, the water out when it rained, and the cold out in the winter.

It was during those very difficult times that I encountered Mr. Haak and Coach Wallace. They gave me hope when I thought there was none. They gave me confidence when I had no self-esteem, and their commitment to serve me went far beyond my greatest expectations.

When Mr. Haak passed out my report card for the first six weeks of class I had an A. He stopped by my desk and told me I had earned the A and I could make A’s in all my classes if I wanted to. Then later during class he said he was going to make me his lab assistant. He asked me to come to the school on Saturday mornings and help him set up the labs. It was during those special moments he showed me how to prepare slides, preserve specimens, and use the microscope.

After a game that I played really well in, Coach Wallace hugged me and told me I was the best 7th grade football player he had ever coached. Another special moment I remember occurred when I was changing into my uniform before practice. Coach Wallace walked up to me and said,

“Hearne, those jeans and shoes you’re wearing with the holes in them do not define you. You have a very bright future if you keep working hard.”

These men did not give me hope through their words alone but also through the time they spent with me. The importance of the legacy they left for me to emulate can’t be measured by mere words. This legacy of giving hope to others has to be lived out in actions and deeds in the lives of the people we encounter every day.

Legacy Revealed

If you have a discerning spirit, God will often give you a snapshot of your own legacy. It comes in some of the strangest places, at some of the strangest times. Not long ago a taco shop opened near the area where I worked. The restaurant became the rave; people were waiting up to an hour to be served. It was there that God gave me a glimpse of my legacy.

When I walked into the restaurant, two college-age ladies were taking orders. “Hi, Mr. Hearne,” one of the girls said politely. “You wouldn’t know me, but you were my principal when I was in high school. I never got in any trouble to be sent to your office.”

“That’s kind of bittersweet. I’m glad you didn’t get in any trouble to be sent to my office, but it saddens me to know that I never got the opportunity to know you.” I told to her. She asked if I were still a principal at the school I responded that I was now the Director of Student Attendance for the district.

Then, the other girl spoke up.

“You’re the one who goes out and write tickets, and harasses students into coming to school,” she said.

“No, that’s not at all what we do,” I responded. “My officers conference with the families about the problems, and I find resources to help them. We want to avoid writing citations.”

As I was explaining this to her, I could see the young lady who knew me as her principal was smiling. When I finished explaining, she said:

“Mr. Hearne, that’s what you’ve always done. You’ve always tried to help people.”

It’s all I want people to remember about me—that I always tried to help people. That is what I want to be my legacy. That young lady said I didn’t know her, but she knew me and apparently she had witnessed me helping people. The life impacting messages that I received from Mr. Haak and Coach Wallace helped me transition from a student with no self-esteem, a strong desire to drop out of school, and failing grades in my classes into a honor roll student with a dream. I took their inspirational messages, and turned my dream into a goal of becoming a science teacher and a football coach. I graduated from High school and received an academic/athletic scholarship to attend college. I graduated from college, and taught science and coached football in the public schools for over thirty years.

1 Peter 4:10 reads, “Every good and special gift you have received from God, should be used in service to others.” 

I know that I have received a good and special gift from God. I want to use that gift everyday by continuing to carry out Mr. Haak and Coach Wallace’s legacy. I want to educate, mold, and inspire others to become the very best God has created them to be.

-Coach Hearne

Challenge Questions

1. What legacy are you living and leaving today?

2. What unique gifts do you have that you can serve others with?



By |October 19th, 2015|Legacy Building|0 Comments

Living and Leaving A Positive Legacy

by Dr. Nate Hearne

I have been connected with the Church and public schools in the state of Texas for more than three decades. In those thirty-plus years, I’ve seen a tragedy happen over and over again. Students, teachers, and parents fail to reach their maximum potential.

I’ve listened as, one by one, students, their parents, and teachers parade through my office with stories of defeat, rejection, and isolation—stories of how they were cast aside by parents, spouses, and colleagues—how they’d been rejected by the Church, the school, and society as a whole. Though these heartbroken people were of different ethnicities and their situations not always the same, they all had two things that linked them together:

  • troubled relationships in the home
  • a lack of knowledge or relationship with Jesus Christ

Students confessed if they made straight A’s they were rewarded by their parents; if they made poor grades they were rejected. Athletes told me when they played well on Friday nights, their fathers were really loving and caring, but if they had a poor performance they were reprimanded and rejected. I heard numerous stories like these in my office played out in families that crossed every ethnicity and social background.

Leadership and Legacy

I’ve contemplated my experiences and analyzed the repeating problems I’ve seen through the years. From this I’ve come to believe that if those who are in leadership positions will change the standards by which they measure success, there will be a profoundly positive impact on the development of the people they encounter. In other words, I believe those in leadership positions should concentrate more on living and leaving a positive legacy.

Webster’s dictionary defines the word legacy as “money or material possessions left over to someone by will or bequest.” Yet I’ve seen many professional athletes sign multi-million dollar contracts thinking the money would improve their status in life, after a very short period of time find themselves bankrupt and suffering from depression. There are numerous accounts of parents who left enormous estates of wealth and property to their children and these estates become marred in bitter legal battles between siblings. I’ve witnessed parents save for years to provide college funding for their children and their children misappropriate the money and never earn a degree. I’ve studied this paradigm for a number of years and concluded that one’s legacy will never be centered on money or material possessions.

I believe that a person’s legacy is based on their character and how they choose to love and serve others.

Legacy Lived Out

In his book, Leadership 101, John Maxwell says that we speak and write a lot about the character traits of leadership, but we very seldom write or speak on the traits of legacy. It’s the one we know the least about.

Achievement is attained when a person accomplishes great things on their own. As a coach, I’ve seen gifted athletes, Running backs rush for 1,500 yards, Quarterbacks pass for 3,000 yards, and Wide Receivers have 1,800 yards of receptions in a season, these are major individual accomplishments! Success is gained when a person empowers others to accomplish great things with them. As a principal, I’ve seen master teachers help their students earn exemplary scores on national exams. A person may even find significance when they empower others to accomplish great things for them. I’ve seen gifted coaches take athletes of limited abilities and transform them into State and National Championship teams.

But a person leaves a deep, positive, long lasting legacy when he empowers others to accomplish great things without him.

In John 14:12 Jesus says:
“ The person who trusts in me will not only do what I’m doing but even greater things, because I’m on my way to the Father, and am giving you the same work to do that I’ve been doing.” (The Message)

As we encounter Jesus in Scripture this reoccurring theme was the central focus of His ministry—empowering others to do great things without Him! Jesus asked the disciples “who do you say that I am?” and Peter said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” After Peter’s confession of faith, Jesus said, “Peter, you are the rock upon which I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:15-16). When Jesus held the demon-possessed boy and the disciples came to Jesus and asked why they couldn’t cast it out, Jesus said if you have the faith of a mustard seed you will move mountains and nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:18-20).

The shortest distance to a great legacy is service.

Your legacy will never be measured by how many people who serve you. Your legacy will always be measured by the number of people you serve. The more people you serve the more valuable you become—to your family, your friends, coworkers, and the community you live in. In 1 Peter 4:10 chapter it says, every good and special gift you have received from God, and God has given each of you a unique and special that is like no other gift; that gift should be used in service to others.

-Coach Hearne

Challenge Questions

1. What’s your legacy?

2. What positive legacy are you living and leaving today?



By |September 28th, 2015|Legacy Building|0 Comments

Behind Friday Night Lights

by Dr. Nate Hearne

Seasons of Success on the Field and Screen

During my years as an assistant coach in the football program at Permian High School, I was fortunate to be part of building the State Championship team that was also named National Champions in 1989 by both the Associated Press and ESPN. Permian had gained a gained a tremendous reputation for winning State Championships, winning them in 1965, 1972, 1980, 1984, 1989, 1991.

Permian High School was so well-known that in 1988 an author came to Odessa to follow us through our football season that year with the intent of writing a book about us. That book, Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, and A Dream, made the New York Times Top Ten Bestsellers List. In December of 2004, a major motion picture based on the book was released which went on to be named by Sports Illustrated as one of the top ten best sports movies ever made. Two years later a television show of the same name was created that is now a widely known Emmy-Award winning series.

Secular Success and Biblical Success

During my years of involvement with organized sports teams, not only football, but also basketball, track, and baseball, I’ve had the pleasure of participating both as a player and a coach on a number of championship teams that believed in the philosophy of secular success. This philosophy is determined and measured by natural, human standards. The players place their faith in the team system: practice hard and everyone will experience miraculous success.

Secular success can, indeed, help players win championships. But rarely do the goals measured by secular success address the long-term, inner character development of the athlete.

Lasting success is only possible when we submit ourselves to God’s Word and become followers of Jesus the Christ in word and in deed. When players, coaches, and leaders include God’s principles within his or her action plans, there will not only be secular success, but biblical success as well. It is through achieving personal biblical success that one can effectively lead and guide others, best preparing them for success in life.

From my experiences in coaching the Permian High football team, the accolades bestowed upon those young men during that time and the championships they won, came as a direct result of their belief in the philosophy of secular success. I’m not arguing that having a secular success goal is all bad. As a coach, I am fully aware of the importance and crucial value of a solid game plan.

What I am saying is this—over the years, many of the students and players, of all ethnicities I’ve had the opportunity to work with in classrooms and sporting arenas all across the state of Texas, have told me later how valuable those beliefs I taught them regarding biblical success have been active in their lives years after they stepped off the field.

One Biblical Success Story

When Friday Night Lights: Untold Stories from Behind the Lights was released, many of my former athletes and students reconnected with me, as they heard about my book and read it. One of those students was Tony Carimi. I was his basketball coach and he was a high school sophomore. Recently Tony invited me to speak at the annual executive leadership meeting for his company and  we began to reminisce about the good ol’ days.

“Coach, do you remember that conditioning drill you had us do called ‘snakes’?” Tony asked.

I said, “Yes, I definitely do.”

For this drill my players would out of the main gym and up into the stands. They would have to run up the stairs and down the stairs, up the stairs and down the stairs, snaking their way through the stands, across all the stands, until I got tired of watching them do it. And they’d have to do this before we began practice.

Tony could run those snakes drill all day and never break a sweat. He ran his hardest and never quit, never slowed down. He gave those snakes drills 100% effort, every time.

I remember one day hearing the upper classmen berating Tony.

“Carimi, slow down. You’re making the rest of us look bad, if you don’t slow down we’re going to get you after practice,” his teammate said.

I blew the whistle to end the conditioning, and called Tony over.

“Carimi, come here,” I looked him in the eye. “Don’t you EVER let anyone else dictate your behavior on this team. You have been blessed with a special gift, and I want you to use that gift, every single day for the glory of God.”

Being leadership-minded and intentional about building legacy, I had a conviction someone else had passed on to me that I was now passing on to Tony. I wanted to see him use his gift and not let anyone else take it from him or cause him to diminish it.

Years later, after I spoke at his work, Tony sent me a text message; here is some of what he wrote:


I just wanted to personally let you know how honored I was to have you kickoff our meeting today. A real-world example of “iron sharpening iron.” 

Your calling at 62 is to speak and share your message. There is no doubt about that.  I know that 27 years from now that someone will look upon your guidance today as a defining moment in their life.  I thank you for your leadership and the time you invested in me 27 years ago.  You are living out an amazing legacy for your mentors and your family.

As you spoke today about life and death, all I kept coming back to was one of my all time favorite verses. 1 Peter 1 24-25. “All men are like grass and their glory like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall but the word of The Lord stands forever.”

I look forward to standing by you forever.

God bless you.


Tony is just one of many biblical success stories I’ve seen, and I am thankful I got to see him as a young man and a grown man serving God. Let me leave you with two challenging questions:

1. I recognized a gift in Tony. Can you name a time when someone recognized a gift in you and encouraged you to use it?

2. Have you ever gone back to the person who encouraged you to let them know of the impact they had?

~Coach Hearne



By |September 21st, 2015|Legacy Building|0 Comments