A ghostlike blur passes by my office door. I catch a glimpse of it as it darts by again. And then the image becomes stationary as it peers at me through shadow-filled glass. I've experienced this phenomenon many times in the past-a student wants to talk. "Hey Mr. Wishing, I can come back later if you're busy," says the young apparition. Recognizing the voice, I reply, "Come on in, Bill. You're here to finish our discussion on pride, right?"
The precocious freshman wants to know if he should help a friend study for a test that will be graded on a curve. He's dealing with an ethical bind: If his friend does well, his own grade won't be as high as it could be due to the curve. If his friend scores poorly his chances of getting a high grade improve. "If a football team is playing a struggling opponent, Mr. Wishing, does it intentionally fumble to help the other side catch up?" he asks.
If his friend is a slacker he could hurt him by propping up his sloth, I explained. But if that's not the case (and it wasn't), I told him to think about Jesus' command to love God and our neighbor as ourselves. And, I quoted Mark 10:45-"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life a ransom for many." Later, I sent him an excerpt from a recent article about Navy SEAL training (think bin Laden compound raid). It's a story about succeeding by serving (only one in 10 SEAL candidates-the toughest of the tough-pass the brutal training test):
"Some men who seemed impossibly weak at the beginning of SEAL training-men who puked on runs and had trouble with pull-ups-made it. Some men who were skinny and short and whose teeth chattered just looking at the ocean also made it. Some men who were visibly afraid, sometimes to the point of shaking, made it too.
"Almost all the men who survived possessed one common quality. Even in great pain, faced with the test of their lives, they had the ability to step outside of their own pain, put aside their own fear and ask: How can I help the guy next to me? They had more than the 'fist' of courage and physical strength. They also had a heart large enough to think about others, to dedicate themselves to a higher purpose."
Young Bill, dedicate yourself to a higher purpose than getting the highest grade. Love God, serve others. Hoo yah!