Written by Teresa Goodnight
Isn’t it funny how a well-played game is still best remembered for the plays in the fourth quarter? You play well to get there, but man—when that ball goes over the line in the final seconds for the victory, it’s just a moment. It’s all you talk about the next day. Eventually you get around to what led there—which was dedication and hard work, but that play feels like a defining moment. If you don’t execute on it—it’s also one of those haunting lost moments of opportunity.
Dr. Henry Migliore likes to reference his life as somewhere between the fourth quarter and overtime. Just a year ago, the doctors were calling in his family to say their goodbyes. Today, he met me at the Village Inn, because I wanted to understand how at 78, I’ve observed him living with such purpose and building his legacy. Everywhere I go—he’s there. Everyone I meet, he knows. Even while at Mend Medical Clinic and Pregnancy Resource Center one day, I happened to mention talking with Henry. Forrest Cowan said “I know him. He showed up here wanting a desk one day. I wondered who he was. I started looking back through our history as an organization and his name was everywhere. I got the guy a desk to use.”
I’ve only known Henry a few months, but from what I’ve experienced, he’s kind of everywhere in everything. He has this purposeful desire to listen to God’s spirit and to move where he’s led. It’s so intentional. However, with Henry, getting to the conversation you intend takes a little navigation.
Let me explain. Before sitting down for breakfast, he ran into two former students, who were excited to see their former professor (and also kind enough to buy our lunch!). Then, after a brief chat with those gentlemen, the conversation led us to another with our lovely waitress. We started discussing her spiritual battles with fear and anxiety. Before long, we’d invited her to church. It was as if we were longtime friends, exchanging numbers while discussing Henry’s love for pancakes. A few minutes later, the woman sitting behind Henry said, “I almost jumped in the middle of your conversation. I loved it. It was so easy for you to invite her to church.” We discussed her church and her heart for adoption and fostering ministries.
In just about an hour, I felt engaged with much of the restaurant, both staff and guests. I think that’s just what happens when you are with Henry. His love for the Lord and people is infectious. His willingness to listen to the slightest nudge from the Holy Spirit lands him in places not originally on his radar. He exudes the love of Christ and genuinely wants to impact people everywhere he goes. Make no mistake, it’s not an accident though. Henry is incredibly INTENTIONAL. He sets his mind on things above, opens his heart with his eyes and ears, and charts the course daily knowing full well the Spirit of the Lord might nudge him on a few rabbit trails prepared in advance for him to do. And, he does all of this with severe migraines, lower strength, and a general malaise taking its toll. Henry said, “I just adjust my plan based on my new circumstances and head on as far down the road as I can travel.”
Henry has so much history at 78—it’s difficult to think about how to capture the essence of such a legacy in a magazine article. He’s a record setting athlete, a former Dean of Business at Oral Roberts University (ORU), an accredited author with over 17 books published in 7 languages, and a strategic consultant. He has recommendations and accolades from past students and clients singing his praises for his business strategy and guidance. Above all these things, or rather intertwined into all of these things, he is a man intentionally and passionately following after God.
I asked Henry about a moment when he felt everything changed for him. What was that big pivotal decision? Henry said it came in 1970 after a 7-year stint with Continental Can. To get there, he took me back a bit in the story. “I became part of an executive training program at Continental. There were 200 of us in the room. They started the session explaining they only needed a hundred”, said Henry. He continued, “They said ‘We’re either gonna get rid of you or you won’t be able to stand the pressure.’” Henry followed, “Coming out of the military and college athletics, I was conditioned for stress and knew how to endure. So, I became the youngest key manufacturing manager in a top 50 corporation at the time. I dealt with union groups and some of the toughest mob groups in Chicago.”
Henry’s story continued. At 30, they wanted to send him to New York to be the youngest Vice President in the corporation. He had a big expense account, a big career and a nice salary. But, in 1970, Henry said “My mother, on her little typewriter, wrote me a letter and said ‘You know they are opening a university right in Tulsa called ORU. You have a master’s degree. Wouldn’t it be fun if you would move home?” So what Henry did was not unlike what many of us have done to ward off mom’s pleas. Henry said, “I sat down in front of my old typewriter and sent them a 7-year old resume with my bad typing and my 2.29 GPA.” Henry quipped, “I never thought more about it except that they would write back and reject me. Then, I could make a copy and send it to my mother.” Henry and I both laughed a little about the persistence of a mother.
Henry continued, “Then 3 days later, Harold Paul called me and started a dialogue. He called every 2-3 days to pray with me.” Henry continued the conversations, as he enjoyed them, but had no intention of taking the position. Henry said, “He then told me he wanted me to fly out and possibly join the faculty. I told him my parents lived close to the University and I would fly out to meet him, but I was honest. I told him straight out that I wasn’t going to accept the position, but it would be nice to see my parents.” Henry went on, “The meeting went fine and he offered me the position, but it wasn’t for a few nights later back at home that it hit me. It was about 2 am and I whispered to Mari ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’ She immediately said ‘Yes.’ Then he said ‘We’ve gotta go to ORU.’” Henry chuckled a bit as it seems a bit ridiculous to most when you say it out loud. He took a 50% pay cut, lost his giant expense account, lost his seemingly guaranteed success path with corporate America and followed God’s spirit in his heart.
Over 40 years later, Henry has no regrets. Henry offered, “You never really know what would have happened. Think of something big like that I might have been spared from 9/11?” Then Henry said, “What I do know is if I had taken a 45-minute train back and forth to work daily, I would’ve missed out on time with my kids. I would’ve probably made more money, but after seeing how the Lord has guided our lives from 1970 until the minute we’re sitting here, it was the right choice.”
Henry came from a Christian home, which really gave him a leg up on his journey with Christ. His mother and father raised him in church faithfully. Then when he was 13 their pastor, Cecil Bolding, started working alongside of him at his parents Western Auto store. Henry said he gained valuable wisdom from his pastor and friend. It really was a mentorship in the workplace, offering Henry even greater exposure to the things of Christ. It’s such a great reminder of the investment we need to make in future generations. The impact of those interactions can transfer from generation to generation.
May 13 of 2018, Henry said “EMSA fired an alert to family and friends and people are coming into see us in the ER. They had given up and thought I was gone. His granddaughter in law, a charge nurse at St. Francis, made a suggestion and suddenly, the game was going into overtime.” Henry spoke boldly, “The Lord must’ve needed me for something else. I just believe that. I’d love to be the old Henry full of energy going to chamber meetings, being impressive but I can barely function some days.” Henry said, “I’m hoping my legacy will be that people see I kept moving for the Lord even when it was a struggle.”
Henry told me that things he now copes with are as simple as that he forgets where he’s going. He said, “If I’m familiar with something I can do it. I did a book signing at Barnes and Noble with a great turnout. I’m sitting there though struggling to even get up.” Henry went on, “The Lord just keeps opening doors up. I go through them—just slower than I used to move. I’d like to think that whatever your story is about me—it is one that encourages others to think about their legacy and to keep going in the direction God has for them. There’s still time. Whatever quarter of life they are in—whatever their struggles, there’s still an impact they can make for Christ.”
Henry says it best himself. “My life is dedicated to living a life of integrity with devotion to my Heavenly Father. I want to be the best family man possible–to be dedicated to my dear wife Mari of 54 years, my 3 children Theresa, Roscoe and Daniel and my 7 incredibly special grandchildren.” Henry said he would want his obituary to reflect that “Henry just hung in there, was giving everything away until the Lord decided he had no more to give.” He continued, “We’re all going to experience difficulties. The real story will be how did each person navigate those steps through the 4th quarter of their life (whatever age that will be) to keep doing what God had for them to do.”
Every one of us leaves a legacy. There will be a story of our lives, our character, our choices. Henry reminds us all that purposefully seeking to leave a legacy for Christ, expanding that into whatever form it takes needs to be a priority. He’s a prime example of continuing that purpose into the 4th quarter—and will one day leave a life with very few regrets. “It’s a life full of roads you didn’t see coming,” says Henry “but true fulfillment comes when we are ready to follow God’s whisper towards His purpose.”
Henry spends his 4th quarter, which he sometimes jokingly calls his overtime period, sharing these values with everyone he meets. He follows Christ with passion and fervor with headaches that would leave most of us lying on our beds in a bit of despair. He doesn’t want to waste one minute of what God has given him doing less than what God has called him to do. For me, that makes him more than a man of purposeful legacy. It moves him into the category of a very rare modern-day hero.
Dr. Migliore has a book “A Biblical Approach to Life Planning” that you can grab a copy of on his website for $14.99. www.hmigliore.com
Email Dr. Migliore at firstname.lastname@example.org and he will give you a link to his book.
https://youtu.be/1-xePO107IA Video for his 4th Quarter Redefined the Legacy Continues book.
Senior Moments, sponsored by Visiting Angels
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