Saturday, May 7, 2016
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others.” ― Rick Warren
Mike Bennett. I haven’t seen or heard from him in almost fifty years and didn’t know him well when I met him in college. His father, Gordon Bennett, was the president of the small college in Abilene, Texas, that my wife and I both attended, and we both have his signature at the bottom of our diplomas. I only made real contact with Mike for one evening at a party, but I will never forget him and he changed the way I have interacted with other people ever since that night. Small colleges frequently have mixers and social gatherings to get the new freshmen to meet others at their new college. McMurry College was no different with a freshman class of about 300 pretty much clueless teenagers. I’m sure many of them were mature beyond their years, but not me. I thought I was really cool and that almost everyone would want to get to know me. I was wrong. Not for the first time. That night, however, Mike Bennett noticed me standing alone in the middle of a party and came over to talk to me. I don’t know what he became or how he did in life but I’m sure he did really well because he was smart and cool and popular. I thought, therefore, that his coming over to talk to me was almost preordained, me being so obviously cool he would want to get to know me. We talked for the better part of two hours and I left there thinking that he was one of the smartest people I had ever met. I was right, too, but for the wrong reason. I figured it out later and was blown away by it. You see, I knew nothing about him after all that talk, but he knew almost everything about me. What he did that made him so smart was that he asked me questions about myself (my favorite subject at the time). He listened, didn’t interrupt, and asked follow up questions about almost every topic I brought up. When I realized what he had done, I knew that Pastor Rick Warren knew what he was talking about when his book, “The Purpose Driven Life” begins with the sentence, “It’s not about you.” He knew and he said it. I think a whole lot of people didn’t want to continue reading, but he was right and I knew it. From the day I figured out what Mike had done and how it had made me feel, I knew that I wanted to do that, too, and I have. I want to know about others, who they are, what they’ve suffered, what they hope, what drives them, what they feel is important. I’m not all that concerned with what they do because jobs really don’t define people. When people would ask me at parties and social gatherings what I did for a living, I wouldn’t tell them. I didn’t want to be pigeon-holed into an image of what an accountant, doctor, student, welder, or any other profession is thought to be. I would tell people that I would gladly talk about the things in which I was interested and later they could find out what I did. Most didn’t really want to know, they just wanted to find out where I fit in the pecking order and whether or not I was important. We are each made of so many parts and experiences that no one-word description can begin to explain us. I’ve had lots of suffering in my life (lots of joy, too, beyond measure), but the suffering and pain seems to stand out. Rick Warren, in the same book, says, “Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you. Don’t waste your pain; use it to help others.” I guess I’m thinking you should probably read his book, lots of study groups and individuals have, and if it can’t get you out of the mindset that you are the most important one in your life then it will have been worth it. Mike Bennett did that for me a long, long time ago. I have never forgotten it or thanked him for that matter. If any of you knows him and he’s still alive, tell him I said thanks. Learn about others, it’s almost impossible to hate people you know a lot about and much easier to serve and love them. Christ asks us to “Come and see.” I think we should.