We moved to Tennessee three years ago, and God blessed me with a sweet friend before we even officially arrived.
In October 2015, I was here by myself making an offer on our house. I had some free time so I drove to the back of Lookout Mountain to check out the scenery. I stopped in a neighborhood that has sort of a little park on the edge of the mountain. It’s a twelve minute drive from my my house and technically in Georgia. With the sweeping view as background, I sat there, chatting on the phone with my guys back in Virginia. When I hung up, a woman sitting just a few feet away struck up a conversation. She had ridden her bike there and was reading the paper.
“Did you hear about that hurricane hitting Mexico?” She asked looking up from her paper.
I shook my head. “I guess I’ve been out of the loop.”
“Well, it’s Hurricane Patricia, that’s my name.”
That was the jumping off point, but twenty minutes later we were as tight as you can be in twenty minutes. I instantly loved everything about her. I ended up telling her that I just put an offer on a house on the Tennessee side of the mountain.
“Where?” she asked.
And when I explained she said, “That’s where I live!” Unbelievably she ended up being my neighbor across the street. That December, Will and I walked 50 feet to Patricia’s Christmas party. A month later Sam and I went sledding with Patricia and her pup, Piper. She’s become one of my favorite lunch dates — we invariably laugh our butts off and address the hardest of trials. We’ve both lost our beloved mothers in the last two years.
Anyway, Patricia is also the only person I know who was a close personal friend of President George H.W. Bush. When I heard George W. Bush say his dad “loved to laugh, especially at himself. He could tease and needle, but never out of malice,” I smiled. Yes, that describes Patricia too. In fact, it describes all of my favorite people. It’s almost a litmus test for likability.
Another measure of likability is also related to George H.W. Bush. His biographer and eulogist, Jon Meacham, spoke at my sons’ school on Monday. I was able to watch a recording of his remarks. He was hilarious and profound, with numerous worthwhile takeaways. But one thing he said, while not particularly complex, has had me thinking all week. He said strong leaders remain curious. Think about that for a few minutes.
Do you know any leaders who lack curiosity? Are they effective? Interesting? Inspiring? Are they even likable? I doubt it.
These two traits — laughing at yourself and remaining curious — make you likable, but relatedly and more importantly, they make you godly. Maybe the applicable passages don’t spring to mind. But really being self-deprecating requires humility. Similarly, remaining curious requires both reverence and humility.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:3-4 NIV
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe
Praying today that I’ll be humble and reverent, and maybe a tenth as likable as Patricia or her good friend, George.