Short Time, Huge Impact (IV)

February 23, 2010

(This, again, is my weekly brief article which appears in the ‘New Braunfels (TX) Herald-Zeitung,’ on the Saturday Religion page.)

So far, I’ve shared three events in my earlier life in which something very significant happened in a very brief time-span.  My next very quick, but very important incident happened when I was 25, beginning fall semester of my third year in seminary.

I was walking down the hallway in a classroom building when I saw a professor whom I had for a class the previous semester.  He appeared preoccupied, but I greeted him anyway: “Dr. Howe—Hi!”

Dr. Fred Howe took a couple of additional steps before it registered who had spoken to him.  Then, he stopped abruptly, turned around and said, “Boyd, I’ve been meaning to talk to you.”

My initial thought was: “Oh, no!  What have I done?”  Thankfully, what I was about to hear was exactly the opposite.

Dr. Howe got right to the point.  He said: “Boyd, your term paper for me last spring was excellent!  Have you ever thought about doing doctoral study, then teaching?”

My fumbling answer was: “No, I haven’t.”

As he turned to head off to wherever he was going, his parting remark was: “You should!”

That 30-second “conversation” changed my life!  I began to work harder in my classes and not be content with making ‘B’s’ when ‘A’s’ were doable.

Amazingly, when I prayerfully applied for doctoral study three years after I finished my master’s degree, I qualified by a .01 margin of my cumulative grade point average.  At least as intriguing is something I didn’t know when I applied: they had dropped the GPA requirement only the year before, in favor of accepting a more balanced doctoral student, one who had good grades, but also significant ministry experience.  I would not have gotten in without those few words with Dr. Howe and the following changes it motivated.

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