Monday, May 02, 2016

The Pencil

The longer I live, the more I am aware of the value of small things. This entry from May 23, 2012, is one of those times. Delvin is now at North Carolina Central University.
I can't say I know Delvin very well. He's one of our seniors who will graduate this Friday but I've never had him in one of my Bible classes. Delvin has been a mainstay on our nationally ranked boys' basketball team the past several years and has signed a scholarship to play collegiately at South Alabama. One thing I like about Delvin is his politeness: it's always 'Yes, sir' and that goes a long way with me. We are in the middle of finals which began two days ago. All the students take the same course finals- math, Spanish, history, Bible, etc.- at the same time, divided alphabetically into different classrooms. I was assigned to proctor English exams. As I prepared to pass out the tests, I asked if anyone needed a pencil from the basket of supplies. Several did, including Delvin. More than ninety minutes into the semester exam, Delvin came up to my desk and asked if I had a pencil sharpener. Those expensive electric sharpeners always mess up for some reason so I have a little manual one like we used in first grade. He borrowed it, took it to the trash can, sharpened his # 2 lead pencil, and I assumed would go back and finish his test. I was wrong. After returning the sharpener to my desk, Delvin very carefully set the pencil back in the plastic box for the next tester to use with a nice sharp point. I'm sure he didn't know I was observing his actions but I was fascinated. In all of the years I've done this, I have NEVER seen someone re-sharpen a pencil for the benefit of the subsequent writer. That thirty second scenario was the most memorable event of my day.

You may wonder why I'm making a big deal about a five cent pencil. The reason is precisely because it is a five cent piece of lead and wood and yellow paint. Do you know I witnessed a near riot in a third world country over a box of pencils our mission team was distributing? And yet, we all deal with our fellow country men, women, and children who take care of nothing and are careless with everything, even items of great monetary worth, and I would guess all of us have been guilty at times. Delvin treated a nickel pencil like it was valuable, maybe because it didn't belong to him, but that's beside the point. Jesus made a big deal about the insignificant things he noticed like a couple of cents thrown into the collection by a little old lady. Who do you think made the following statement? (Hint- it's in red and it's in the Gospel of Luke!)
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much."
He told us if we can be trusted with small things, we can be trusted with great things. Delvin just illustrated Jesus' teaching. If I loaned Delvin any possession of mine, he would take great care of it, no matter the price tag. Isn't that the kind of integrity we're looking for in this world? I try to teach my students that their lives preach daily sermons without the benefit of the pulpit and everyone who sees them will walk away with an impression, either good or bad. Hey, Delvin- someone was watching. Albert Schweitzer once famously stated, "My life is my argument." I think Delvin just made a very strong case for himself.

Applicable quote of the day:
"A #2 pencil and a dream can take you anywhere."

Joyce A. Myers

God bless,
Luke 18:1
E-mail me at

1 comment:

Robert said...

Great post, Coach! I never got to know Devin either, but I really appreciate this post because it gives me renewed faith and hope in the world of college athletics. By the way, did you know it was my alma mater, Ohio University, that knocked Anthony and South Florida out of the tournament? And, yes, it was my alma mater that lost its coach not long after the biggest win in school history to the Fighting Illini. Lookin' forward to seeing you and the rest of the WCS community tomorrow at graduation. You are officially on TravisWatch. Please don't let him do anything too cray-cray that'll keep him from walking across the stage tomorrow night. I've also enlisted the help of John Adams. DON'T LET ME DOWN!! hahahaha