In the midst of the holiday break at two local colleges, I am reminded of my own campus experiences.
My favorite professors were those who always inspired and entertained us with tales of the real world.
I vividly recall two such men who were part-time ministers and full-time college teachers. I admired their commitment to pastoring small churches for little, if any, pay.
I believe both were successful because of a great sense of humor, particularly the ability to find humor in everyday life.
One of the best stories was when one of them looked into the collection plate one Sunday morning and, to his amazement, spotted a crisp, new $100 bill.
He felt sure that no one in that poor rural congregation could afford to make such a donation, despite their strong faith.
Those hill country farmers liked to say they were better at raising kids than crops.
The preacher excitedly held up the $100 bill and gave thanks for it, noting that was exactly how much was needed to fix the church roof.
He laid the bill on the pulpit and asked the person who gave it to stand so that the other church members could be inspired by their good example.
The congregation stirred a bit and finally a man stood up in the back. An audible gasp was heard because everyone knew he was the local bootlegger.
“Preacher, I’m the one who put that in the plate,” the man said nervously. “But I surely ain’t no good example to these God-fearing folks. Ever body here knows how I made that money.”
The young minister never hesitated as he put the bill into his shirt pocket:
“Amen, brother. The devil’s had this money long enough.”
The other story I still laugh about concerned a weekend revival in the mountains and a white shirt.
The other prof was preaching Friday, Saturday and Sunday but realized early Sunday that he had only packed two freshly-starched white shirts.
No self-respecting mountain preacher could call sinners to repentance in a soiled shirt. He searched the small town but with no luck.
Then he recalled that his wife was distantly related to the local funeral director. Sure enough, that funeral home had a new white shirt in his exact size.
Later, he asked our class if we realized why he offered a special prayer for the funeral director.
His answer is a classic:
“Always take care of those folks. They’ll be the last ones to let you down.”
Keith Kappes is the editor of The Morehead (My.) News. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.