Several years ago, while principal of a very large high school in Austin, Texas, one of the recent graduates of that school (I'll call her Amy) returned for a visit during the winter break. Amy had been an excellent and active student in that high school, and went on to study at a very large and prestigious university in Texas.
Amy shared with me that she had joined a Bible study group during her first semester at college, which had a membership of about 30 female students. She related that in one of the first study sessions each student was asked to share a brief recollection of how they had been positively influenced by someone at their respective high schools. Amy shared with the group a couple of things her high school principal (me) had done or said that had made an impact on her. After sharing her rememberances, Amy noticed a girl seated diametrically across from her in the sharing circle, staring rather intensely at her.
As the students continued to share, one after the other, the time came for the girl who was staring at Amy (I'll call her Sue) to share. Sue began to relate a couple of things her high school principal used to say and do that had positively influenced her. She had graduated from a very tiny high school out in West Texas. As Sue shared her memories of being influenced by her high school principal, Amy's jaw dropped. Sue was quoting verbatim some of the very things that her high school principal used to say, as well.
As soon as the meeting was over, Amy and Sue quickly introduced themselves to each other. It turns out that both girls, in that huge university, previously unbeknownst to each other, one being from the city in central Texas and the other from a rural community in West Texas, had been similarly influenced by their respective high school principals.
Except, it was not two different principals. I had been the high school principal of each girl at some point in their high school careers.
While I am flattered and humbled that some things I have said and/or done might have had a positive impact on these two very different young ladies from two very different environments, I am haunted by the reality that my thoughts/words/actions/teachings actually found root in the thinking/behavior of these two young women.
Resolved to never let opportunity pass to provide sound guidance, uplifting words, and worthy modeling to the young people I encounter each day - on the rare chance that they might actually be listening/watching/discerning.