We all have that favorite teacher from our days in school. The one who had a great impact on our lives. The one who took extra time to work with us or make us feel good about ourselves. The one who challenged us to work hard and to excel in school and in life.
My favorite was Mrs. Pickens, my English teacher during my senior year (1969-70). She was no-nonsense, so I considered it an accomplishment to make her laugh in class. All of us respected her commitment to educating her students, and she passed on her thirst for knowledge to us. She taught us grammar and punctuation and literature that still guides my writing and reading to this day.
She gave us extra credit to memorize I Corinthians 13 — the Love Chapter — and the 23rd Psalm because they were among the most beautiful passages of English prose she had ever read. She often passed out those “ditto master” copies of poems, lists, and inspirational readings to make us think about life and to motivate us to be better human beings.
When we came back to school after Christmas Break, she gave us a Top Ten List for making 1970 a good year. It was something like this:
1 – Speak to People: Nothing is as nice as a cheerful greeting.
2 – Smile at People: It takes 72 muscles to frown and only 14 to smile.
3 – Call People by Name: People love to hear their own name said aloud. Listen when they tell you their name and say it when you speak to them.
4 – Be Friendly and Helpful: If you want friends, be a friend.
5 – Be Pleasant: Nobody likes a grump. Speak positively and act like everything you do is a pleasure.
6 – Be Genuinely Interested in People: Listen and take note of what people tell you. People are likable if you give them a chance.
7 – Be Generous with Praise: Double your compliments and cut your criticism in half. People enjoy verbal affirmation.
8 – Be Considerate of Others: Their opinions and their preferences matter too. There are often three sides to an issue—yours, theirs, and the right one.
9 – Be Alert to Give Help: You will be a blessing and you will receive a blessing when you help others. Some acts of kindness will be remembered for a lifetime.
10 – Add to all these a good sense of humor, loads of patience, and a dose of humility, and you will be appreciated in almost every situation. Great will be your reward!
May 2019 be your best year ever. “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” — Matthew 6:33.
Pastor Mike Hancock is the Associate Pastor at Xenia First Church of the Nazarene and guest columnist.