Welcome to Modern Day Heroes!
This is an interview with Mr. Anthony Gordon, co-owner of Jarrett Gordon Ford in Davenport Florida, as well as past professional baseball player with the Milwaukee Brewers. He has been named Citizen of The Year for Polk County, Florida in 2014 and has received many other accolades.
Q: Mr. Gordon, can you please tell us a little about yourself?
A: I am very passionate about people. I am very optimistic, though I used to be pessimistic. I like the person that I see today, more than I did in the past. I can find more enjoyment in life today than I could before. Those are the things I can say that I like about myself. I spend time trying to find the good in a person rather than trying to find the bad in them.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about what you do, and why would you say that?
A: Meeting people is the favorite thing about what I do. The enjoyment behind what I do is to meet people, getting to know people and socialize with them. I think that’s the highlight of my day and my life. Changing lives and meeting people. Because my job changes, but people have always fascinated me. Today I feel like I can connect and relate to them. I feel like God placed me in this environment, I am not sure why but I know He has. When I first got into business with Bill Jarrett and his brother Brian, Bill was very open, honest and transparent. Bill said, “You always have to be honest with the people. Even if you have to admit that you don’t know the answer, be honest. The vehicle isn’t a person, it’s a piece of metal. The vehicle isn’t as important as the person. Distance yourself from the vehicle.”
Q: What is one of your most memorable achievements?
A: I would say my most memorable event was when I gave my life to God. I had been going to church for a while, but I really hadn’t given myself to God. I had gone to a Thursday night church service, and the pastor had everyone come down and whisper in his ear what we wanted from God. I didn’t know what to whisper, but when I got there, all I could think of was “Faith”.
It was my last year of professional baseball, headed off to spring training with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1994. The year before had been one of my best years in professional baseball, but that year when I went back out to spring training, I struggled. Not really bad, but it wasn’t like the year before. But as I was struggling I remember going back to my hotel room and crying out to God.
I was asking what am I going to do with my life? Why did you allow these things to happen to me? I was hurt by that season, why did it go so roughly when the year before was so good?
So, I ended up in a hotel bathroom, crying out to God and giving him my life. It was the best thing I could have done. God put me in the place I am now. I wasn’t going to stop playing ball. But I had lost the fun in the game.
I had once had a coach tell me, when it isn’t fun anymore – it’s time to stop. But I think God had to allow some things to happen to me first, before I was ready for the next chapter.
I was planning to be this successful person in sports and it seemed like the harder I tried, the harder it was for me to become successful. Nothing seemed to go the way I wanted to. The game wasn’t fun for me anymore and then I got hurt and tore my rotator cup in my shoulder. That was a pivotal point for me. I wasn’t going to stop playing baseball. My idea was baseball, baseball, baseball. So long as I could do it, I was going to keep doing it. I think God knew that. I just thought – if it’s not for me LORD then it’s not for me. If you have something else for me, I don’t know what it is. If you want me to do something else LORD, you’re going to have to show me. And I think that is where I became more receptive to God and more open to His plans for me. I can’t say that God spoke to me like you and I are speaking now. But I think allowing Him to direct me, that was the pivotal point for me. He led me here.
Q: Do you have a favorite scripture or quote that you reflect upon frequently?
A: Absolutely. My quote now is Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, ” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you.”
That scripture fascinates me. Because I had a plan for my life, but then God said “No, I have a better plan for you.” So that verse just sticks with me constantly.
But when I was playing baseball it was Philippians 4:13 – For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
So, I can relate to both of those scriptures today. I can talk about other verses and scriptures throughout the Bible. But those two stick with me, tremendously.
Q: What area do you feel you want to grow in and why?
A: I would like to work on ministry. I have been a deacon for quite some time and I minister occasionally. I want to follow the path of God. I am not sure how yet. I would like to become more influential, and to become as big as God wants me to be.
Q: What do you do currently for yourself that you feel helps keep you on the top of your game?
A: I strive to stay humble. I want to stay humble for God to utilize me. I always stress that. I am still very competitive, but I strive to keep humility at the focal point of my life.
One time the CEO of Ford Motor Company came by. We had a very nice spread of food. My employees went above and beyond. It was beautiful and very well done. I wanted to tell all of them how incredible it was and how proud of them I was. I told them how much I appreciated that they did such a great job for the CEO. They told me, we didn’t do it for the CEO, we did it for you! I felt humbled and honored.
Q: What words of advice would you give to a young person about success?
A: I would tell them the same thing, stay humble. It is tough once you start to feel successful, you tend to believe that’s what it is all about.
I would tell them that it brings more joy when someone else is successful, and if they could only see what I see in them.
I have gone back to my coach and told him that I am sorry. That if I knew then what I know now, I would have given more, I would have tried harder. He said I just didn’t know what he knew, and I didn’t see in myself what he saw in me.
Q: What things do you implement now for personal growth?
A: I believe that the greatest form of leadership is servant hood. I continually ask myself how can I serve? It gives me a sense of enjoyment and peace to serve and to give back.
Q: What are the top books that you would recommend?
A: I never really was much of a reader, I didn’t like it. Math was my favorite. But now I am reading and I have come to enjoy reading. I like to read stories, books about people’s lives. I really enjoyed ‘Make Your Bed” by William H. McRaven. I also liked “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson and Kenneth Blanchard. I just recently finished a TD Jakes book, and I really liked that as well.
Q: If you could go back to yourself as a teenager and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
A: I would tell myself to have faith, you have a good life ahead of you. You’re going to have to pick your head up. I would say that you are something special and God has a great plan for your life.
Q: What things have you had to overcome and how did you do that?
A: I would say that my low self-esteem was probably the hardest. It was better on the field, but was hard off the field. Anytime something went wrong on the field, it was a hit to my self-esteem and self-worth.
In my life today, some of the toughest things are that I want to help everyone. I want to make a positive impact on everyone. When I don’t feel like I have made that, it gets to me. The way I overcome it is by giving it to God, I pray, I fast. I tell God, I have done all that I know to do, let me know if there is more. It’s demoralizing at times.
A word from Jorjia and Amy…..
Interviewing Mr. Anthony Gordon was a lot of fun! He made us feel so comfortable and we really enjoyed it. It was great to learn more about him. Amy had the opportunity to hear him speak at a dear friend’s memorial, and knew that his story would be one to share. Jorjia and Amy both look forward to attending the WAY Center’s 12 Annual Fall Luncheon on November 4, 2017 in Haines City, Florida, where Mr. Gordon is the featured speaker. (Tickets may still be available – for more info – www.thewaycenter.org)
Mr. Gordon’s influence upon his employees is apparent, as he spoke of different things they do to give back to the community and help those less fortunate. Currently, Jarrett Gordon Ford is collecting items to send to Puerto Rico, to help in the relief efforts after Hurricane Maria.
Mr. Anthony Gordon exemplifies what we feel is the basis of our Modern Day Hero theme. He gives more of himself to others, lifts others up, gives back to the community and spreads love and hope wherever he can. Thank you, Mr. Gordon, for being that light.