Strong Hands On My Shoulders

Strong Hands


“When you do it to the least of these my brothers, you do it unto Me,” Jesus said (Matthew 25:40). 


I remember a class in educational leadership that I took during my doctoral program.  The class had a special meeting on a Saturday to accommodate a visiting professor, the president of a community college.  I admit, I had a bad attitude that morning, “This isn’t fair, to make us come to class on Saturday.  And, this guy is going to lecture us all day.”

I was surprised when he began, “Let me tell you my story.”

Everybody loves a story, and I loved his story.  Let me share it with you.  He was a big African American man who was born in poverty and had become a leader in education.

“I grew up in the inner city of one the large eastern cities.  We did not have house cats.  We had house rats that were about the same size as cats. I wanted out of poverty.  I knew there were only two ways out of life in my neighborhood.  One was through sports.  I wasn’t going to make that.  The other was through academics, so I worked hard.

“I did fine until I got to Algebra.  It about killed me. I couldn’t do it no matter how hard I tried. In fact, the harder I tried, the worse it got.

“My teacher was a man who had also escaped the inner city through a good education.  However, he had come back to help us.

“The teacher put an assignment on the board, some algebra problems.   We worked at them while he roamed the desks looking at our work.  The teacher came down the aisle and stood behind my desk.  He saw the scratches on the paper and knew they reflected the frustration on my face.

“It was then that my teacher did the most amazing thing, at least it was amazing to me.  He put his hands on my shoulder.   They were firm hands.  They were caring hands. It was in that instant, the moment the teacher placed his hands on my shoulders, that I knew he I could do it.  And, I did.”




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