throw downYou’re going to be a complete failure in life!” He said chuckling smugly. I was a little caught off guard, a rare thing even at the not so tender age of sixteen or seventeen I was at the time. “What?” I asked. “I said, you’re going to be a complete failure in life…” He repeated cooly in front of the whole classroom. I can’t remember even doing anything to provoke such a gut punch of a comment.

Our Civics teacher’s classroom had a pretty laid back atmosphere and I actually liked the teacher. There were only seniors in that class so he seemed to be a little more lenient than most teachers, he let us express our opinions. And by this time in my life I was a little too willing to share mine…an intellectual throw down you might say…

When the other students heard the teacher’s comment – my question – and his direct response, the room got unusually quiet, except for the low murmur in stereo of the “Oooooo’s, ” coming from my classmates. I did enjoy having the spotlight and everyone’s undivided attention. I reveled in it. No wonder the teacher probably couldn’t stand me.

“Are you kiddin’ me?” I asked.

“Not a bit…”

“What makes you think you know me well enough to know that I’ll be a complete failure in life?”

“I’ve been around a long time – I’ve seen kids like you – they never amount to anything.”

“Well, I guarantee I’ll be doing better than you in five years!”

“You guarantee it?”

“I guarantee it!!!”

“What makes you think you have what it takes to be successful in life? You’re a kid still in school!” His gloves were all off.

“I know because I know me, and what you think or say can’t change who I am! In five years, I’ll be blowin’ your doors off!”

“Five years, Ha-Ha-Ha! I’ll take that bet!”

“I’m serious!” My face red hot.

“Okay, you’re on – we’ll meet in five years from graduation.”

“Be prepared to lose!” I added with a juvenile confidence he didn’t think worthy of answering.

I thought of my Civics teacher often in the next five years after I graduated high school. I knew some Biblical principles, not humility too well. I was in the first part of that pride journey, the part before the cliff. I knew people were judgmental and sometimes ignorant. I didn’t realize that I too fell into that category.

I think even Christians tend to think we have the wisdom of God and can judge a person by what we believe is truth based on what we can’t see; the heart of a person…

I wrestled with our five-year reunion up until the month before I considering acting like an adult. In time, I would come to realize I can’t judge that man’s intentions on his words alone… He may have very well meant the best… Maybe he did know my type? Maybe he did the best a teacher could for a headstrong and prideful kid? I’m not sure…

With all the wisdom I’ve gained over time… I just can’t begin to know or judge his heart…