Words have carried a lot of weight in my life. I remember distinctly how certain words have built me up, puffed me up, or torn me down. Sticks and stones will hurt for a while, but cut me with words and I’ll bleed much longer than you’ll even remember what you said. On the other hand, I’ll run for miles on the momentum of genuine affirmation as well. I have a note from my dad from almost 30 years ago because its words helped shape me and prepare me to be a man that God could work through. (I also have a box full of letters from my wife telling me how awesome I was back in the days before emojis – not that she uses emojis or anything!) I have a distinct memory of a meeting in Jerry’s office at NCC when his words changed the trajectory of my education and shaped the way I’ve approached ministry, “Michael, you need to consider preaching.” I’ve seen great power in words. Words matter – and they move us.
Last week, we attended Sr. Day as our son prepared to graduate yesterday. The words, “He is simply a legend.” were used by his math teacher to describe Dakota as he was awarded Outstanding Math Student. To be fair… he is an outstanding math student. His brain is wired for math that looks like hieroglyphics to the rest of us, and he’s worked hard to fine tune his understanding. Because of that, he’s won a lot of math competitions, some scholarship money, and a reputation for being the guy to see when you’ve got a numbers problem.
But the word LEGEND caught me off guard a little bit. I’m glad Mr. Aaberg didn’t stop there. He continued with words that I pray will carry great weight for Dakota… He’s not just good at Math. He’s kind and patient to help other students understand as well. These are the words I hope he’ll carry with him. His greatness at math is a matter of engaging his God given neural pathways and making the most of an incredible gray matter filing system – but the way he treats people needing help is a matter of the heart and character that will take him beyond legend status in my book.
May we never settle for simply being a legend. May the stories ‘they’ tell of you always point beyond you. May we be men and women chasing after God’s own heart and serving those around us in every way we can. Well done, Son.