Thursday, October 06, 2011

Microwaves and Stoves...

It may come as a complete shock to you that as a college student, I was often very self-centered. I am sure none of you struggled with this in your late teens as you blossomed into adulthood. I am certain you were a generous, kind-hearted, others-focused individual. I, however, was not. I was very concerned with my own world and having things my way.

So in my junior year when I moved into upper-classman housing, I was surprised to find that our shared apartment did not come with a microwave. Granted, we did have a stove, but among the four of us sharing the house, I am uncertain if any one of us knew how to turn it on. A microwave, however, was a basic necessity. The thought of surviving a year of college life without one was absolutely unthinkable. The idea that perhaps we should just buy our own never crossed my mind. Why? Because every dorm room at our campus had a microwave. This meant that every freshman on campus had something for "free" which we did not, even though we were paying more for our apartment-style housing.

As a young man seriously committed to my own well-being, I decided to give our campus janitorial and housing staff a piece of my mind. In a rather tersely worded e-mail, I informed them that it was only right and fair for the college to install microwaves in the upper classman apartments. With an arrogant sense of self-righteousness, I hit "send" and waited for this great wrong to be righted.

By the next day, I had received a kind reply from Dave Grandy, the gentleman in charge of this department. He wanted to meet with me in person. Looking back, I can see that it would have been entirely fair for Mr. Grandy to call me onto the carpet and straighten me out for my attitude. It would have been entirely fair for him to ignore me all together. So why call this meeting? I am convinced that Mr. Grandy, a man of great grace, saw a teachable opportunity.

Mr. Grandy called me into his office that day to gently point out my error. He responded kindly to my email, even thanking me for pointing out a flaw in their services. But then he walked me through my e-mail and helped me to see how my attitude and approach was not only selfish and arrogant, but simply wrong. Mr. Grandy knew that I was headed into ministry, and he had it on his heart to help me see how to deal with conflict in an appropriate manner.

The truth is, I experienced on that day the kind of encounter Jesus had in mind in Matthew 18. I was corrected that day by a fellow believer, but done so with such grace and love that I actually left the meeting feeling grateful. Mr. Grandy chose to exercise that rare blend of grace and truth that is so uncommon today. He truthfully pointed out my sinful attitude, but graciously helped me to learn and grow.

I will always be thankful to Dave Grandy. He served in a thankless job outside of the college limelight. But when he faced a choice to rightly administer truth or boldly offer grace, he followed the example of Christ in choosing both. I hope that in my current roles as pastor, father, husband,

and friend, I am learning to do the same. I have also learned to operate a stove.

Grace AND Truth to you-


No comments: