I'm currently at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention, but was remembering a few things from going to Orlando this past summer for the Southern Baptist Convention. I'm not sure if I ever got around to sharing this tidbit here on the blog, but I'll share it again.
I was working at the SBC as a part of the Credentials Committee (there's an explanation for that committee, and it's dull). As such, I was up front in the registration area when a US Army Major General walks up and asks where he's supposed to be. This was the Army Chief of Chaplains, a post currently filled by a Southern Baptist Chaplain. Chaplain (Major General) Carver was there to do the invocation and say a word or two at the service. He had gotten there perfectly on time, but later than he preferred. He also wasn't quite sure where to go.
Now, I've never had the chance to tell an Army General where to go, so I offered to walk him to the stage area rather than just give directions. Why? Well, first of all, I wasn't really clear on how to give the directions. Second, I didn't really have anything else to do. Third, I still hold a deep desire to be a Chaplain, at the very least with the National Guard, and didn't want to be remembered as being unhelpful to the boss.
So, from registration, up the stairs we headed. I've already mentioned, I think, that the General was in a hurry. As we're headed up the stairs, we pass an Orange County Sheriff's Deputy working security (Baptists make for a rough crowd), and the man stops, thanks the deputy for his service, and then goes on.
Now, typical, conventional wisdom would tell you that an Army Major General is much more pressed for time than a sheriff's deputy picking up some overtime with an easy job (come on, this wasn't a CR-debate year). That a man with nearly 40 years of service should be thanked by those around him, not be the one thanking. That was not what I saw.
I saw the complete opposite.
It challenges me to this day:
1. Who do I think I should be thanked by? Am I so important in my own mind that I expect appreciation? If so, how dare I?
2. Who am I overlooking that needs to hear "thank you"? Honestly. Where are there people in my everyday life, or in my once-in-a-lifetime encounters, that need to be told they are appreciated?
3. What am I going to do about it? That day, I went to the first aid area and told the people there 2 things: that I appreciated them being there, and I hoped they had the most boring 2 days of their lives (well, you wouldn't want first aid busy at your event, would you?). What about now? There's much to do.
So much for conventional wisdom. Let's apply some appropriate wisdom: let us serve, even with words. After that day, I wanted all the more to be an Army Chaplain. For what I saw in 2 minutes, I realized that I would be honored to follow Chaplain (Major General) Carver into any situation. Did he do it for that reason? No. He likely did not catch my name, and barely had time to see my face. He did what he did because it was right.
May we find leaders worthy of our following like this.
May we be leaders like this.