What do you call it when your dog has eight puppies? Octuplets? Ocpuplets? I don't know. Years ago, our Radio Production Manager, well, he probably would have just said you call it a handful. His dog was Sister. No, not a relative; that was her name-had eight puppies. He got to look after them until he could find homes for them. Apparently eight can be a challenge. He told me about one day when he was just trying to get them back into their pen. He said, "I was doing all I could to push those puppies back in. I'd get two or three in. Then while I was reaching for another one, one or two would kind of wiggle back out." (You can probably almost picture this can't you?) After a lot of pushing and shoving, he finally gave up for a while. He said, "You know, here's the funny part"-actually, I thought the picture of him losing to those puppies was the funny part-but he said, "within 10 minutes, guess where those rambunctious puppies were?" All of them were inside by the pen, without any pushing from him! They chose to do what he couldn't force them to do!
Moving day! Good news, bad news. The process of moving is horrible. The result, once you find everything you packed, is wonderful. Years ago, my Administrative Assistant got to experience all that good news and bad news. Actually, the bad news turned out to be not so bad. It could have been bad. She was just one woman with some heavy stuff to move; refrigerator, stove, piano, plus lots of smaller things. Now, I was out of town when she moved, which was good planning. But I talked to her a few days after the big migration. And all she could talk about was the difference her friends had made. The guys pitched in on the especially exciting things like the piano. The women carried some of the other items. And even her little nephews joined the team. They carried the little nephew sized stuff. Each person carried what he or she could. Gayle said, "You know, when I look at each piece of furniture in my apartment, I think of a person; the one who helped carry that particular burden." The burdens turned out to have a lot of blessing in them because of friends who helped her carry what she could never carry alone.
When you eat in a hurry you sometimes leave some traces of the meal on your face, and you sort of wear your food. There are some crumbs maybe, or some tomato sauce, or this little spot of chocolate. Of course, you don't know it.
Now I have to eat on the run a lot of times, and that means sometimes you might be able to tell. Of course, I don't mean to carry it around with me. I mean, you know, my wife or my son in the past have told me that, "You know, you've got food on your face!" Well, I want to tell you it's embarrassing to hear, but I need to hear it. Of course I don't always say "thank you" to them. Sometimes I'll just say, "Oh, yeah, you know, I'm saving it for later." Yeah, right! Which doesn't seem to please them, but I have to say that I do clean it up after someone points it out to me. Of course, if I'm not looking my best, I'd rather hear it from someone who cares about me, right?
I'm a tornado and hurricane kind of guy. I mean I don't like them but, I've lived where you learn about those things. I'm not an earthquake kind of guy. I've never lived where those mattered much. But when I was in San Francisco, I was where earthquakes are a big deal! Most people there still have dramatic stories to tell about what happened during that big quake in 1989, the one that interrupted the 3rd game of the World Series. Some of the heaviest damage and injury was in the Marina District of San Francisco.
Years ago, when my son-in-law lived in the Chicago area, he was in his "heyday" because it was the "heyday" of the Chicago Bulls. That was hard for me, being in the New York area as a New York Knicks fan. But, listen! Back then the Bulls had one of the most amazing teams in basketball history. Actually, I think my son-in-law had to go into a recovery program for Bulls addicts back then. But he reminds me of the Bulls' greatness regularly. In the days when they were building their basketball juggernaut, I was told the players would get in a circle and one of them would ask, "What time is it?" And they'd answer louder every time they asked the question, "It's game time!" They seemed to know what time it was almost every time they got on the court. In fact, Bulls fans told me back then that the players weren't really that close off the court. Reportedly, it was pretty quiet when they were traveling, didn't even talk to each other much. When it's wasn't game time they didn't get together off the court. But, when it was game time, the differences didn't matter, they had a job to do. They were a team!
I'm really not too excited about the fact that a lot of the commercials on television are for beer. And, unfortunately, a lot of them are pretty well done and hard to forget. I remember some years ago, actually, there was one that had a punch line in it that people would jokingly quote all the time. The problem is that it inadvertently portrayed how alcohol does make some people act. Maybe you'll remember it. This guy said to his Dad in this kind of sensitivity that the new man is supposed to display, "I love you, man." At which point his Dad says, "You're not getting my beer." Okay. And who wants it? In another commercial the same loser is telling a girl, "I love you." But she also knows he's saying that just to get her beer. Why? Anyway, now, the guy is saying all the right words, but it's to get something. In this case, something he shouldn't have in the first place.
I've been going to the barber for many years – and giving him increasingly less to work with. But one day I chastised him for actually throwing away all that good hair on the floor. You know, some of us could use that stuff! Well, anyway, Steve has been a barber for over 50 years – he's a craftsman at what he does. His dad came to America as an immigrant and made a living as a barber. So Steve literally grew up in a barber shop. Now, as he was cutting my hair one day – both of them – I learned how he became so good at what he does. He said, "Different men would come to my father's shop to cut hair, and I tried to learn something from each one of them. Each one had something different that you could learn from him."
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "A Thousand Teachers."
Now looking at everyone you meet as someone from whom you learn something, that's an outlook that can make you a millionaire – spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. Our word for today from the Word of God actually defines major differences between a wise person and foolish person. We're beginning with Proverbs 9:8, "Do not rebuke a mocker or he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you. Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer." OK, one person is teachable, and therefore wise and therefore enjoying rewards. Another person is not teachable, therefore not wise and therefore suffering.
Life is exciting when you look at each person you're with as someone you can learn something from. Like my barber realized watching those men cutting hair in his father's shop, each person has something different to show you. A while back, I met a man who was a surveyor. I said, "What makes someone a good surveyor?" so maybe I could find a life principle. I also met a man who's a consultant to real estate developers, so I asked him, "What's the most common mistake real estate developers make?" And he said, "Well, they stay with a bad thing too long." I thought that was a good standard by which to evaluate a lot of things in life.
One practical facet of humility is teachability – the open-hearted attitude that "I don't have all the answers." You can learn so much from a Christian who's different from you – they probably have a window on God that has shown them something you may have missed from your window. You can learn so much from children. In fact, their perspective on life is one Jesus told us we should all have. You can learn so much from your critics, even though it's not much fun. Your critic sees something that might be a blind spot for you. Even if it's only 10% right, consider that 10%. There must be something there that makes your critic reach that conclusion.
If you're married, I hope you're letting your mate be your mirror, your teacher. If you'll lower your defenses and stifle your pride, you'll find your husband or wife has so much to give you. You can learn from your parents if you'll just listen and ask questions. Listen to your family; learn from your family. God gave them to you for them to learn from you, and for you to learn from them.
I wonder if the people around you would call you a teachable person, or a person who is stubborn and closed and always talking, seldom listening? Open up your heart, open your life to the people around you. Let them be your teachers. You'll get something different from each one, like a bee gathering pollen from each flower. And people will think you're really smart because you treat them as if they're smart.
Life is boring when you're standing still. The man or woman who sees every person as someone to learn from...they're never standing still. The wisest people in the world get that way from opening up to a thousand teachers!
I got a "boo-boo." It happened when we were in the middle of major outreaches on Indian reservations with our On Eagles' Wings team of young Native Americans. It was just a scrape on my wrist. I don't even know how it happened. It seemed like no big deal at the time. And it might have been no big deal if I had thought to clean it at the time, but I barely knew that it happened. I woke up two days later to see red all around the wound and red lines starting up my arm. Is that bad? Yeah. I offered myself a brief medical opinion – "uh-oh." Our team nurse seemed pretty concerned about it as she carefully cleansed it and treated it. She recommended some antibiotic to keep it from getting into my veins. Several days of twice-a-day treatment and some antibiotic did the trick. I hate to think what would have happened if I'd let it go any longer.
When you hear a helicopter going over, you probably look up. I know I do. But it's probably not a major emotional experience for you. It is for Megan's Dad. She told me that she and her Dad were outside recently when a chopper flew over. In her words, "My Dad suddenly hit the deck." In other words, he just instinctively fell to the ground. Now, you could look at that reaction and say, "Is he a little strange, or what?" No, not strange. He's a Vietnam Veteran. Obviously, Megan was really surprised by her father's unusual behavior. So she said, "What's wrong, Dad?" He said, "It's just part of post-Vietnam trauma. When I hear a chopper, it just triggers something inside. I'm suddenly in combat again." That's when Megan understood.
Did you ever notice what great scorekeepers kids are? They are really adept at measuring how they're being treated compared to the other kids in the family, right? Our oldest child was followed about two years later by her younger brother. It was our son who introduced me to this scorekeeping aptitude that children have. He had this simple 4-word question. "How come my sister...?" Which would always be followed with his presentation of some perceived injustice in how we were treating him compared to how we were treating his sister. She apparently got something good that he didn't get or he got something bad that she didn't get. When I was on a trip, I sure thought twice when I was buying gifts for my children. I knew that any hint of favoritism could get me in big trouble.