Originally published Thursday, 29 March 2012.
In the third grade I had this teacher, Mr. Brunn.
He was firm and spoke in a deep tone with a thick German accent. Mr. Brunn was a big man, with white hair, wired-rim glasses and we rarely saw him without a button down shirt and tie.
I was at a small private school and my mom worked at the front office as the school secretary. Mr. Brunn was a friend of my parents and because of this, in my little mind, I always felt like he was out to get me.
Third grade carried me through multiplication, reading comprehension and of course the hormonal outbursts from pre-puberty-stricken girls.
But one of the greatest endeavors of the third grade was how my friend Jackie and I perfected the art of note passing. She would get up to throw a piece of paper away and drop a note on my desk. I would ask to use the bathroom and drop one back on her desk.
All was well in our little note-passing world until … Mr. Brunn caught us. And he was less than thrilled about our sneaky note-passing schemes.
To our absolute horror, he stood in front of the class and read our notes out loud.
There were notes about the boys we crushed on and the need for longer recesses to perfect our Show Time at the Apollo dance routine. I thought, “Phew, now Joey knows I like him and Mr. Brunn can work on extending our recess. This isn’t so bad.”
But I sank into my seat as the final note was read…
“Jackie, isn’t Mr. Brunn an old fart?”
Gasps filled the room.
Mr. Brunn put up with our silly complaints, the bickering girls, and the boys who made bodily function noises … but the one thing he never tolerated was dishonor.
His face turned beet red as he shooed me to the principal’s office.
Later that afternoon Mr. Brunn sat me down and spoke these words over me, “Nicki, I expected more from you.” The gentleness of his tone sent me into a pool of tears and I began to profusely apologize and tried to retract my words.
The truth was, I thought Mr. Brunn was the best teacher ever. He planned creative projects, took us on amazing field trips and he even picked me up for school when I had torn a ligament in my leg and couldn’t ride the bus.
But it was too late … I could tell my words had stung his heart.
All these years later this memory of dishonor still haunts me.
Dishonor is a tool the enemy of our souls uses. And once dishonor occurs, it is very difficult to repair. Learning to honor is one of the greatest ways to improve our love for God and others.
There were 2 important things I gained from Mr. Brunn about honor:
1. God is sovereign.
Sometimes we may not understand why God allows people who are difficult to love in our lives. Whether it’s a family member, a co-worker or even a boss … people are going to get on our nerves. But as we move towards a greater desire to honor we can believe because God is sovereign, each person in our life has something to teach us.
2. Cynicism is not the norm.
We don’t have to let other people’s behavior affect how we treat others.
Is everyone at work trash talking the boss? Are the neighbors griping about each other? We can choose to have confidence in Proverbs 18:21, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” As we begin to move away from cynical words, it may feel like we are brown-nosing everyone but eventually … it will come more naturally.
Mr. Brunn, I don’t know where you are today, but thank you for teaching me one of the hardest lessons in my life … honor matters. Because of you, I’m challenged to live a life of honor more. Thank you for expecting more from me. [tears…]
Who is someone who has taught you about honor? I’d love for you to leave a comment today and share your story.
[If you are looking for an amazing resource on honor, I highly recommend this book by John Bevere.]