I once witnessed the power of humility in the flesh. A few years ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to take a few courses on Scripture at the College of Biblical Studies. This was a late in life endeavor as I was not someone who grew up reading the bible, attending Sunday school where we memorized favorite verses. This was a torch lit only a few years ago where I wanted to catch up on something I felt I had missed. Needless to say, as I attended each class, I had a sense of being overwhelmed by the content.
One class was led by Dr. Bill Boyd, PhD and past President of the College. Very educated, consumed with knowledge obtained through years and years of academic research and teaching experiences.
Yet each class period, Dr. Boyd created an environment that is a mixture of pounding headaches for what we were trying to unravel with our feeble brains and the rush of enlightenment as the subtleties of the points he was trying to convey developed meaning and relevance. I sat in the presence of someone who learned that to engage us, to make us want to reach forward requires an atmosphere that is safe to question, safe to ponder, safe to fail at times. But the true impact of his teaching came from the humility he showed when he revealed the meaning coming from the text we are using as a guide and the lessons buried within the chapters and verses of the Bible. He did not make any effort to impress us with his degrees or experience or knowledge he deservedly obtained over the years. Quite the contrary. He used himself as the example of shortsightedness, impatience and self-centeredness that each of us possesses and most go to extremes to try to hide. These examples became a mirror for each in his class to look at our own lives, our own journeys to find true meaning and application for our studies.
I found myself wanting to make a point of how I see the connection of each clause we studied to another; to impress him with my so-called newly revealed insight that I was sure had some semblance of divine guidance. And I was not alone in the class experiencing this impulse (fortunately). The patience he exuded as he focused on each of us to try to understand our point of view, no matter how far fetched, was easily read in the twinkle of his eyes and smile. Instead of pointing out our frail thoughts as meaningless, he gave merit to how we might have come to that conclusion; never putting down our concepts or efforts.
It struck me as I drove home that as men, as leaders, as fathers, as husbands how often do we try to exert power and authority at work and home instead of safety and compassion? How often do we attempt to feel significant by giving direction coupled with how-to mixed with must-do that comes across as ego driven instead of caretaker?
As a man I struggle with how I am perceived in my house and in the office. I want to be understood, I want my guidance to be followed, my decisions adhered to. That night I saw an example of the influence someone could have by focusing outward rather than inward, by seeking out needs instead of satisfying an ego, by using our life mistakes as a canvas to teach instead of war stories from the old days where we thought we slew some form of dragon.
There truly is power in humility. This is what our families and the people we are responsible for need from us.