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  • Writer's pictureLeanne W. Smith

The stripes on people’s backs

My day job…my August-to-May job…is professor in a business college. This fall my husband and I will teach a Servant Leadership class, so this summer I’ve been reading on that topic.

A book by Ken Blanchard, Servant Leadership in Action, is particularly blessing my summer mornings. Recently I read an essay in that book by Chris Hodges titled, “What you see determines how you serve” in which he tells this story...

Hodges was once teaching a room full of young people when a visiting kid entered, sat in the back, and heckled a bit. The kid was dressed in a fashion known as Goth and irritated Hodges enormously. So Hodges turned to someone, and I can just hear him mutter under his breath, “Get that kid in my office when this is over. I want to talk to him!”

Class over, kid in the office, Hodges huffed in and lead with something like, “What is your deal?” followed by stunned silence when the kid pulled the back of his shirt up and said, “This is my deal,” revealing deep red stripes of abuse.

Hodges’ point in the essay…an excellent one…is that “someone with a chip on their shoulder may have scars on their back.” And like the Good Samaritan in the Bible, we always have a choice when we meet the broken, to concentrate on how they may be causing us discomfort, or how we might serve them.

The latter way of thinking takes love and selflessness, and love and selflessness are things I would like to be better at. Perhaps you would, too.

My mother recently reread A Contradiction to His Pride and asked, “How did you come up with characters like the Waldens? They’re so mean!”

I know, right?

And me, the bleeding heart author who would like for there never to be a bad guy even in a fictional world—but who also knows tension is needed—feels marginally guilty for describing their meanness on the pages.

Marquis Walden especially haunted me because he wasn’t mean-spirited by nature. Marquis is the kid in my story with the stripes on his back.

How thankful I am for summer and the opportunity to read new books and gain new insights! And how thankful I am for each of you who have read A Contradiction to His Pride. Please consider posting a review on Goodreads and/or Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million—whatever the source of your own purchase decisions.

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