During June of 1920, educators from around the country (Yale, Harvard, etc...), national and state politicans, and Southern Baptist leaders gathered on the campus of Baylor University in Waco, Texas to celebrate the school's Diamond Jubilee. Among the speakers at this event were the iconic George W. Truett, pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas; my distant cousin Sydney Albert Burleson, the Postmaster General of the United States and special envoy from President Woodrow Wilson; and Dr. George McDaniel, Pastor of the First Baptist Church, Richmond, Virginia. All three men were graduates of Baylor University. The event also happened to be one of the last major public appearances of Georgia Burleson, affectionately called in the proceedings "Aunt Georgia" by Dr. Truett. Georgia was the elderly wife of educator and former Baylor President Rufus S. Burleson (1823-1901), and the woman for whom Burleson Dormitory is named. The proceedings make for some great historical reading. I will highlight one anecdote which will of benefit to all of us who teach or lead others.
Dr. George W. McDaniel, D.D., LL.D. the eloquent and the beloved pastor of the First Baptist Church of Richmond, Virginia spoke on the opening day of the Diamond Jubilee. Dr. McDaniel's text was from the gospel of John where Jesus said of Nathaniel, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile." Dr. McDaniel points out that these words of Jesus come immediately after Nathaniel had prejudicely said, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" McDaniel says that some people can never think well, nor speak kindly, of one who has ventured to criticise them adversely. Yet Jesus, even after hearing the words of Nathaniel about people from Jesus' hometown, speaks kindly of Nathaniel. Dr. McDaniel encouraged his listeners to model the character of Christ and see the best in people. He then tells the following story to illustrate how this kind of character applies itself in real life.
"Several years ago a young man whose class standing was high went on his final examination in history. His distinguished father was to deliver the commencement address four days later. Just before entering the examination room the son received a telegram:
"Wire me result of your last examination. Should you fail I shall not fill my engagement. Your Father."
The telegram unnerved the splendid student. His father's apprehension seized him. For the first time in four years he was "rattled" on examination. For one hour his mind was blank. For the second hour it was a confused mass of incoherent, unrelated knowledge. Two hours and a half passed before he began to write. One hour remained for the long examination. Time was up.
Most of his classmates had handed in their papers and gone. He asked for more time. The considerate professor granted thirty minutes. As his less accurate and less scholarly roommate handed in his paper and left the room the professor followed him out.
"What is the trouble with M — ? He knows this subject and should have no difficulty with this examination."
The young man replied, "Yes, he knows it better than any man in the class," and then told the professor about the telegram.
Five minutes before the extra time had expired the professor stepped to M — 's desk. "Mr. M — , wire your father that you have made this subject with distinction."
"No, Professor, I have made a wretched failure and you will never pass me on this paper."
"Pass you! You have already passed. I tell you, wire your father."
We all should be like that teacher. He had a heart and he knew. A few years later the brilliant young man died of tuberculosis in the mountains of the West. He had broken his health in the pursuit of knowledge. But for the intervention of a Christ-like teacher he would have died sooner of a broken heart."