The Teacher who Changed my Life
by Dave Gillogly
Have you ever considered how many of the big things in your life were little things? For example, the hug that came just when you needed it, the word of encouragement when you had about decided to give up, the thank you note from someone for something you hardly even remembered doing. The fact is, we rarely knowingly do big things, and the majority of our lives is spent doing little things (or at least what we think are little things).
A little thing that changed my life was a thirty-second conversation I had with my grade school principal. This was back in the day when all teachers were gods and a principal ranked somewhere above that. I was dribbling a basketball down the hall on my way to the playground during lunch recess when our principal, Edna Thomas, stopped me. Immediately remembering that dribbling the ball indoors was not appropriate, I mentally prepared for the worst. (I wonder if it was the way Moses felt when God first began speaking to him out of the burning bush?) Surprisingly, Miss Thomas said several very specific and very complimentary things to me, then ended with, “You have the ability to do anything you want to do!” This was spoken to a kid from a blue-collar family whose expectations were to graduate from high school, get a job in the refinery at Conoco, get married and spend the rest of his life in Ponca City, Oklahoma. To Edna Thomas, a little chat; to me, a life-changing moment.
It’s often said that a small thing placed in the hand of God is no longer a small thing. I wonder what would happen if we could apply the mental discipline of including God in all our everyday activities and conversations. How many little things would become big things without us ever knowing it? Before we spoke to the checkout clerk at the grocery store, what if we silently asked the Holy Spirit to choose our words? What if we quickly asked for guidance before we began any conversation or answered the phone? Perhaps, instead of cursing the person who cut us off in traffic or caused us to miss a light, we could offer a quick prayer for that person’s safety. Instead of judging people we see on the street or television, maybe we could ask God to bless them. How many little opportunities are we not taking advantage of every day by acting out of habit rather than God’s direction?
Practicing the presence of God (being constantly aware that He is with me) has become an ongoing challenge and frustration to me. I want to acknowledge His presence with me and let Him lead me, but my mind seems always to be elsewhere or elsewhen. And I have a lifetime habit of doing things my way.
Please do a little thing for me. Ask God to help me include Him in all I do, even the little things. I’ll pray the same for you.
The author used to be Dave Gillogly. Now if he’s downtown or at a meeting somewhere, he’s “Oh, you’re Erin’s dad.” Around Council Road, he is “Miss Millie’s husband.” A member of Council Road for 42 years, he has taught Bible Study classes, directed departments, was a deacon, and served on a number of committees. He also served on the boards of the Oklahoma Baptist Foundation and Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children. Currently some young guys are willing to hang out with him (they call it mentoring; he’s the one who is learning), he writes a little, and with Miss Millie, spends three months a year communing with God’s creatures (especially trout) in Montana next to Yellowstone Park. In previous lives, he served on Governor David Boren’s staff, was Commissioner (CEO) of the Oklahoma State Workers’ Compensation Insurance Fund, managed two independent oil companies, served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Express Employment Professionals, and was adjunct professor in the Paul Dickinson College of Business at Oklahoma Baptist University.