Lewis Timberlake tells about an 11th-grade group of boys in Harlem, all of whom had police records and 80% had experimented with drugs. Incorrigible, they had had eight different teachers in seven weeks time.
In desperation, the principal called a 67-year-old lady out of retirement to take the class. They explained the situation and to their surprise she accepted the challenge. “Give me those boys,” she said, “I can handle them.”
That evening at home she went over the list of names she had been given. There was the usual run of information— ages, addresses, etc. Suddenly, there it was! The thing all the others had missed. It was so simple they had overlooked it. Billy Blackman 146, Jimmy Jones 139, Tommy Stone 143, and on down the line.
These boys were brilliant, almost geniuses. Everybody had treated them as if the were stupid, asking for mediocrity, just to get by. She went to class next day dedicated to making these kids live up to their potential.
At the close of the schools year every boy in the class was promoted to the 12th grade. At the closing assembly of the student body, the president of the school board was there to present this remarkable teacher with a beautiful achievement plaque.
“I can’t accept a plaque,” she said, “I am not the one who deserves it. It should go to the principal.” The principal was taken back. “Why,” he asked, “What did I do?”
“Don’t you remember?” The day you gave me the list of students you were thoughtful enough to give me their IQ numbers.”
For a brief moment the principal was dumbfounded. Then he remembered, broke into laughter and exclaimed, “Goodness! Those weren’t IQ’s. Those were their locker numbers!”
Do you happen to remember the little chorus, which contains these words? “Only believe, only believe, all things are possible, only believe.”
It’s true, so much of what we achieve depends upon what we anticipate. Our lives are going to be successful in direct proportion to what we expect. It was the Carpenter from Nazareth who put it in these words: “Your reward shall be equal to your faith.”
Now, what do you expect?
Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church, Temple where he was senior minister for 23 years. firstname.lastname@example.org