Beneath the Dignity of a College Dean

Story of the Day for Tuesday November 1, 2011

Beneath the Dignity of a College Dean

                    The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience of spirit is better than pride. 

                                                                       Ecclesiastes 7:8

A young man, eagerly wanting to be a missionary, applied as a candidate to a mission society.  The examiner told the candidate to meet him at three o’clock in the morning.  On a cold, winter morning the candidate was ushered into the study, where he waited until 9:00 a.m. for his interview.

The examiner was an old pastor.  He sat down before the candidate and said, “Spell FARMER.”  Then asked, “What is three times three?”

After the young man answered these asinine questions, the old pastor was pleased.  “That’s excellent,” he said, “I believe you have passed the examination.  I will recommend you to the board tomorrow.”


At the board meeting the pastor enthusiastically recommended the candidate: “He has all the qualifications of a missionary.  First, I tested him on self-denial by telling him to meet me at three in the morning.  He came without complaint.”

The pastor continued, “Second, he arrived on time. He is prompt.”

“And, third,” he added, “I examined him for patience.  I made him wait in my study for six hours, and he did so without complaint.”

The pastor beamed, “And, finally, I tested his humility by asking him simple questions a little child could answer, and he showed no indignation.”

“I believe,” he concluded, “that this young man is the kind of missionary we need.”


The Bible links patience with hope, love, and trust.  But, sometimes, patience flows from humility.  The writer of Ecclesiastes contrasts “a spirit of patience” with “pride.”


Once, mischief broke out in a men’s dormitory at a small college in Pennsylvania.  The free-for-all in the hallway involved shaving cream, peanut butter, and jelly.

The college dean was summoned.  He went from room to room to ask what happened and who was responsible for the disaster.  Oddly enough, not a single student seemed aware of any raucous behavior in the hallway.

The dean could have demanded that everyone in the dorm be responsible to clean up the mess.  He also knew that he could have summoned the custodian to clean things up.

Instead, the dean left without a word.  He returned shortly with a bucket and brush.  Removing his coat and tie, he set to work cleaning up the mess.

One by one, heads peeped out of doorways.  As students saw what the dean was doing, they soon joined in and offered to help in scrubbing up.


To patiently clean up the aftermath of a hallway free-for-all is, of course, beneath the dignity of a college dean.

That’s the point.

                                                             (copyright by and by Marty Kaarre)