Some time ago, I heard a sermon by Bishop T.D. Jakes, in which he declared “favor ain’t fair.” He was addressing the issue of why bad things happen to good people, and why good things seem to happen to people who are, at best, a little less than “good.” “Favor” is defined as blessings that come from God, and, as the Bishop said, it is not always comprehensible on how God decides who gets good things in life and who does not.
It is a question that has plagued religious people for the longest time, and there is never a comforting answer, bu the issue came to me today once again as I read about why the Board of Trustees at Penn State decided to fire the late Coach Joe Paterno.
The trustees decided that Paterno had shown a “failure in leadership” after being told by a then-graduate assistant about some questionable sexual activity that appeared to be going on between a young boy and Jerry Sandusky. Though Paterno told the school’s athletic director, the Trustees believed he failed as a leader because he did not call the police. In an article which appeared on CNN.com, a report issued by the Trustees said, ” “We determined that his decision to do his minimum legal duty and not to do more to follow up constituted a failure of leadership by Coach Paterno.”
Wow. Favor…ain’t fair.
I found myself wondering what I would have done had I been in the coach’s position. If I had not seen the incident myself, I would not have called the police, but I would have probably advised the person who had told me what he’d seen to call the police. I would have told my athletic director, and probably would have asked what else I should do. Would I have been wrong?
It is virtually impossible for any of us to “know” what we’d do in a given situation; we are all fairly good “armchair quarterbacks,” but I know that as a matter of course, I do not automatically take the word of someone who says he or she has seen something.
So what would I have done in his situation? As I read the story, I felt the pain I felt when the story first broke for Penn State’s beloved coach. I remember feeling that he did the best he knew how to do, but in the end, his best was not good enough. I tried imagining how it must have felt, knowing that he had devoted his life to Penn State, only to be brought down because he hadn’t told the right people what had been told to him.
Favor is not fair, as Jakes said. Surely the Paterno family must be feeling some of that.
The whole situation opens, or should open, a conversation about just what to do in a situation like this. I am a pastor; if a member told me that he or she knew that a child was being molested, I would tell Children’s Services immediately. Wouldn’t that be the correct first step? Wouldn’t Children’s Services then be required to conduct an investigation and then alert police, should the accusations be true?
But back to Paterno…I feel a deep sadness for this man who thought he had done the right thing. Perhaps he DID do the right thing, but in this case, the right thing wasn’t “right enough.” In the end, he was brought all the way down…
You’re right, Bishop Jakes. Favor ain’t fair.
A candid observation…