Thursday, July 28, 2016
“Your life is a personal lesson. For everyone else it is a loud example.” ― Richelle E. Goodrich
Let me tell you a true story, it’s about the young man who wrote the letter in yesterday’s blog, who we will call John Smith. John flunked out of college and got a job with a huge international company. He worked his way up to almost middle management but discovered without a college degree he could go no higher. There was a community college in his area that had recently started a “week-end” college program. You took one six-hour class Friday night (4:30 to 10:30) and then another one Saturday (8:00 to 2:00) and got six hours of college credit from just two days a week, so you didn’t have to quit your job, just adjust a little. Not everyone liked the six-hour classes and John didn’t either, but he stuck it out. It was to one of his Saturday teachers that he wrote the letter I posted parts of yesterday. He went on to graduate from community college (his teacher who got the letter didn’t know any of this). He then decided to go back to college full time and quit his job. Mr. Smith did really well in college this time and graduated with honors. He then went to a prestigious law school and did well again. He is now the chief prosecutor for a large metropolitan area. He has married and has children who adore him. His community has honored him for his charitable work. The teacher to whom he wrote the letter can take no credit for all Mr. Smith accomplished. The teacher didn’t encourage Mr. Smith to enroll in the community college program or encourage him to go back and get his four-year degree. The teacher was never consulted about law school or professions or marriage or anything else. The teacher’s sole connection with Mr. Smith was having him as a student in one class for one semester. Yet, we are all the beneficiaries of someone who gave us inspiration or opened our eyes to the greater world. If you want to sail from Los Angeles to Hawaii but are off just one degree, you will never even see Hawaii. However, if on the way out of the harbor, a dolphin nudges your boat that one degree back on course, you will sail straight to your destination. That is what that teacher did for John Smith--gave him a nudge. That’s what so many us do, we nudge folks a single degree. They still have to do all the sailing and taking care of the boat—we just do the nudging. I certainly wouldn’t be here doing what I am doing had I not had nudges aplenty along the way. The teacher did what the teacher was supposed to do: teach and inspire. That was all the nudge Mr. Smith needed. You have no idea who looks up to you and how many are changed by who you are and how you live your life. Christ says to follow Him and we do, but we do because we can see others who are following Him and want to live lives like theirs. I will never be an Albert Schweitzer or a Mother Teresa, but they both inspire me and give me an aiming point. As Browning wrote, “Aim high, lest you miss your mark.” He also wrote that a person’s “reach should always exceed their grasp or what’s a heaven for?” Our job is to be true to who we are and by doing so, set an example for others who only need a little nudge to change the face of our planet. Eh?