Saturday night I had the privilege of being at one of the best fundraising galas that I’ve ever been to.
Melissa McCreery and the team at Kilns College put on a fantastic event in Sunriver at the historic Great Hall with some of the most beautiful timber as structural support and roofing, and with one of the most sublime atmospheres of lights, candles and wine glasses (lots of wine glasses).
The event met our fundraising needs and it was also an amazing time to hear from new faculty, HD Weddell, and be entertained by good friend and adjunct professor, Leroy Barber.
I had a chance to share the vision of the college and I also had a chance later to communicate the various financial needs and investment opportunities.
Something interesting happened, however.
In the rush to get everything communicated and to have it all come off right, I mentioned several professors while missing two professors—both good friends and both co-founders of the college.
I was reflecting today on how I missed an opportunity to honor them, and, perhaps, might have even dishonored them.
But how could that be?
If I were going to start with a list of people to thank so that I KNEW they’d be honored, I would have started with these two (and Melissa mentioned above).
So, again, if these people are at the top of my heart list, why did they end up left out as I was talking?
I think the answer is simple: we tend to honor urgency more than we respect longevity and loyalty.
When I’ve traveled to Africa, I’ve noticed something really interesting in remote villages and cities teeming with energy. When someone gets up to give a speech, they list off and show respect to a host of individuals before they get into their speech. I’ve seen it in Uganda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya and Ghana. Those worthy of honor in other cultures seems to receive the respect they’re due.
Now I know some of this can be political—a form of patronage, but I think a lot of it is cultural.
I believe urgency is less of a driver than in the United States and respect more of a driver than here.
I think it’s reflected in my thinking above… “these two guys would have been honored if I had made a list.”
But why didn’t I make a list? And why do many of us often not make a list of those to honor?
Again, because we’re caught up in the urgency of many other concerns and the thought of beginning my talk time with a slow and methodical mention of others never comes to mind.
I regret missing the chance to show two long time friends how much they mean to me.
The lesson for me is bigger than last night, however. The lesson is that I need to slow down and be more intentional about honoring those who deserve it. I need to be intentional enough to be respectful.
My friend Stephan Bauman who lived in Africa for many years and now leads a global relief and development organization called, World Relief, calls his African friends his greatest teachers.
What I great picture. There is much we can learn from other cultures.
Maybe the Kilns Banquet was the impetus I needed to join Stephan and be taught by my African friends how to build community and depth of relationships by intentionally honoring others.
(Dedicated to Mike Caba and Rick Gerhardt: two giant men of faith who have been instrumental in most of the blessings God has brought my way.)