It’s time to come clean. It’s time to break 30 years of silence, to lay the rumors to rest and answer the burning question that has followed me since the early 80s. And I decided that rather than have all the drama of a press conference or something, you should be the official witness.
What’s that? No, sorry, I don’t have the original formula to Coca Cola. No, I don’t know what happened to D.B. Cooper.
What I’m going to finally tell the world is why I chose David Garland as my Hebrew professor.
I know, I know. This is big. But I’ve given it some thought, and I have my reasons for sharing it now, and in this format. Stay with me, okay?
Dr. Garland was a distinguished and beloved Old Testament and Hebrew professor at Southwestern Seminary from 1958 to 1991. But I didn’t pick him because of his Old Testament or Hebrew wisdom.
I signed up for his class because I wanted to hear him pray.
See, one day I was sitting in chapel and the visiting chapel speaker said something in passing about “wishing he could pray like Dr. Garland.”
That was enough for me. I’d never heard of such a thing. A seminary professor who taught Old Testament and prayed? (Just kidding. Sort of.)
Anyway, I was so intrigued, I knew I had to see and hear this for myself. And I wasn’t disappointed. Before every class, he would warmly speak to the Lord on our behalf and we would follow him as he led us to a throne of grace. It’s still what I remember most about Hebrew class.
So why am I coming clean about this now? Because I realized the other day that Dr. Garland – unknowingly or knowingly – had established a reputation as a man of prayer. That’s what he was known for. And that’s what he was called on to lead others to do.
I also realized that you and I have reputations, too. And just as we could count on Dr. Garland to lead us in prayer before every class, people expect you to lead them too.
The question is, where?
I know some people who are faithful to lead us all in a word of criticism, while we all chirp, “Amen!”
I know others who have uniquely qualified themselves to lead out in a word of whining or complaining, while we all in agreement say, “Oh me!”
Some people lead us to worship – not just by career choice, but by their love for worshipping the Lord themselves. As they worship God with a tender heart, they invite us to join them. It’s a wonderful thing.
Other people lead us to worry. These prophets of gloom can find a cloud on the clearest of horizons and convince you that you’re a fool not to worry.
Some people are trusted to speak with wisdom in a given situation because they have pursued a lifestyle and God of wisdom.
Others are a sure bet to make us laugh. They have created an expectation that whatever the next thing is that comes out of their mouths, it’s gonna be funny.
You have people like that in your life. You know who to turn to for encouragement, who to listen to for applying the Bible to your life, or who to help you get the most life from your car engine. You know where to go for horse sense, house sense, or dollars-and-cents. And it’s almost always by either your experience or their reputation, or both. And like my experience with Dr. Garland, it isn’t always what is painted on the door of their office.
Reputations Open and Close Doors
I picked a man to teach me Hebrew (and later Field Education) because of his prayer life. His reputation in one area made me trust him in others. Don’t miss that!
Your influence and leadership in one arena will create opportunities for other places of influence or leadership – if the reputation is positive. People who are known for their love, joy, faith, peace, wisdom, etc. have opportunities to lead out in other areas as well.
On the other hand – and there is another hand – people who are known for negative types of influence or reputation lose opportunities. I mean, really, do you want relationship or success advice from cynical, negative, worry-warts? They may be brimming with brilliance in what you want to learn – but a negative reputation robs them of opportunities to share it.
Who Makes You Their #1 Draft Choice?
Guess what? You’ve been drafted. Multiple times. You can tell it in the ways people respond when you walk in the room. You can tell it in the types of email or phone calls you receive. You can tell it by the offhand comments you get from people or the little wall posts or tweets you get online.
Somebody believes you can lead them in something. Somebody has assigned you a “position” to fill in their lives. And often the position you fill for them is not the one you think you do.
If you see yourself as Polly Positive, but are only surrounded with negative complainers, it’s time to wipe the fog off your mirror.
If you see yourself as an aw-shucks nobody, but people keep asking for your wisdom or time, it’s time for a second look.
If you see yourself as a spokesman, but nobody ever asks you to speak, it’s time to, um, talk to somebody about something else.
In the meantime, pay attention to the expectations that people bring to your doorstep. The sign on the door or the schedule may say “manager” or “expert” or “English 101.” But the people you connect with may be asking you to pray. Or counsel. Or teach something about life.
Or they may be expecting you to whine. Or complain. Or rant. Or destroy people.
I expected Dr. Garland to lead us in a word of prayer. And he did, faithfully.
What do people expect you to lead them to do?
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