You Must Be

Many years ago, when I was young and new in my faith, I was quite brash. Often, when taught Sunday school class I didn’t lead in the sense of “leading a discussion”.  Instead, I lead by lecturing the ignorant and giving them the blessing of hearing my wisdom.

One of my offended classmates went to the senior pastor and told him that I dominated the class and that I was not very gentle with those who disagreed with my newfound views.  (This is disturbing as I look back on those days because today I disagree with about half of what I was cramming into other people’s heads back then.)

Soon, the senior pastor “called me on the carpet,” to address my attitude.  Now, this pastor was one of a kind.  He had been in charge of this particular church for about 15 years, and Dr. Nicholson was gentle, but spoke with purpose and firm intent.

He opened by celebrating my vigor to grow and learn.  I rather enjoyed that and my ego swelled accordingly.  He then brought to my attention the charges that some in my class felt intimidated whenever I taught because I didn’t allow opposing views to have any voice.

I stumbled and stammered and started into a tirade about how “that’s just my style”.  after all, I grew up in a family that debated competitively.  Mind you, we never shouted or argued, we just debated: much the way a radio talk show host may find a thrill debating with a contentious caller.

I rambled on for about twenty minutes how I am who I am and that the people in the class just don’t get that.  When I was done blathering, Dr. Nicholson said, “I’m just asking you to show a little more love toward your classmates,” I replied with, “Well, I’m just not a loving type of guy.”

Dr. Nicholson never flinched.  He just purposefully and calmly said, “But you must be.”  He said nothing else, but his stare penetrated me.

There was a long silent pause.  After all, what could I say?  I couldn’t argue with the fact that Dr. Nicholson…well, actually Jesus…demands that  “I must be” more loving toward others.  They are not competitors in a debate to be conquered with air-tight arguments.  They are friends, seekers and hungry souls searching (like me) for Truth.

I left his office in shock and very humbled.

Many years hence, Dr. Nicholson’s words echo in my head.  Yes, I’ve made much progress, but the eager debater looking for a fight is still there inside me, but I’m keenly aware that he needs to reigned in .  Whatever your natural “style” may be, if it leaves behind hurt, pain, frustration or anger, strive to be more loving to those around you.  After all, you must be!

Thank you, Dr. Nicholson!