“He only had an 8th grade education. He had no college degree. He had no credentials after his name. He wasn’t famous. He didn’t invent or discover anything. But yet, I find myself wanting to be just like him.”
Those were the words spoken by someone at my Dad’s funeral, the words that have stuck in my heart for many years following his death. And each of the stories, whether they were silly or sweet, told of who “Peter Little Allan” was. He was kind, genuine, soft-spoken, trustworthy, and charming. He didn’t talk about people poorly, or behind their backs. He was ALWAYS willing to do just about anything for anyone. Everyone who knew him, loved him. He made everyone feel good, from his children, to the cashier at Meijers, the barber who cut his hair, and the guy who took his money at the gas station. He was nice to people no matter who they were, or what their credentials or position were. He treated everyone the same.
I remember those words spoken at Dad’s funeral, mostly because they were spoken by someone who IS highly educated and who has many credentials after their name, but yet – they wanted to be like Dad. And this, to me, spoke volumes of their character. They wanted to be like my Dad.
Often since then I have thought about the things that impress us about people, the things that we admire the most about those we choose to surround ourselves with. It’s worth thinking about, and it’s certainly even worth praying about.
2 Corinthian 4:18 says, “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
We don’t take our credentials and education with us when we leave this earth. And our bank statements are worthless to us. We don’t show up with a portfolio full of “good works” that earns us a good standing in heaven. The position we earned, the rank we achieved, how much money we have donated, or the number of nights a week we worked at the soup kitchen, how many Bible verses we have memorized, or how many mission trips we have attended – None of it will matter if our hearts are not right.
1 Corinthians 13:2 says, “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
Love is what really matters in the end; how we treated people – all people, not only those we chose to surround ourselves with. That’s what I want to be impressed with in people. And how Dad loved is only one of the things I most admire and miss about him. It was his “eternal credentials” that mattered in the end!
Here’s a challenge for all of us today – Ask yourself, and be honest with your answer. What is it that impresses you with people? Why are you surrounded by who you have chosen to surround yourself with?
Is it because you are benefiting from their position? their rank? their ability to bless you financially? Is it because their credentials and education impress you? Or is it because they remind you of Jesus and challenge you to strive to become a better person?
Father, help us to be honest with ourselves, and when we are not, please allow your Holy Spirit to convict us. Change us. Make us more like you! In Jesus’ name, Amen!