I just want to take a moment to honor two guys, John Linn and Mark Little. They are two of the best men I know (really people).
I don’t know how to explain John. He’s older than me but treats me often like I’m his older brother. John finds any moment and opportunity to give you a compliment not just on what you do but a praise for who you are. And he does this without trying or being obsequious. It’s natural for him. The reason that I like him is hard to articulate. In simple, he’s the person that I know who is most utterly aware of his messed up condition, his broken humanity, his need for grace. He wears vulnerability on his sleeve. I don’t know anyone who does it like he does it. He will tell you his brother needs a kidney transplant but he, himself, needs grace because he hasn’t always had a great/good relationship with his brother and that affects wanting to give his kidney. He’ll tell you that’s messed up and he knows he needs grace and knows he should give a kidney but that’s where he’s at. He’ll tell you he wants to keep his kidney. He’ll tell you that he does a lot of stuff he doesn’t want to do and the things he wants to do he doesn’t do. He’ll tell you you’re better than him. He’ll tell you he doesn’t know why the woman he’s with is with him and he never once means that in a self-deprecating way but in a truthful way. My goodness. He’ll see the beauty in everyone, meet them at their point of departure and contact and lift them back to life by showing his brokenness. He is drenched with the recognition of who is and it constantly prevents not just hero-worship but self-worship and egotism. Paradoxically, I admire him more. In an age when I’m used to having leaders who hide their faults to maintain their eligibility for leadership, I’m drawn to him as a man who shows his faults in order to say “Don’t follow me. Follow God.” At the same time he implicitly says “Don’t follow me in my actions. Only follow me in my honesty and vulnerability.” And he’s right. Honesty allows you to avoid pride and gives you the sight in order to be the site where change happens. Clear vision is the first step and he takes it and puts on a clock of humility as daily ritual. I really admire that and want to be like him.
The other guy I know is Mark. Mark is an enigma. Mark is real and has things he’s ok with people knowing and thing he doesn’t want people to know (we all do), but he has understanding of the entire human race. He has an understanding that we are all family. He understands that when he does something for you, you don’t have to pay him back, and he’s not looking for it. He understands, counter-culturally, that to say thank you and then offer money for the meal or gift rebukes and reduces and possible refutes the thanks. He understands that to say thank you and then say “I’ll get the next meal” or “I’ll have to have you over for dinner” is a context of “becoming even” when rather he lives in a context of love. Love doesn’t just forget any record of wrongs. Love keeps no record of rights. But very few people get that. He does, and in him is true love because there is no record keeping. Mark is also a person who is brutally honest. If you want a confidant, he’s the best kind. He won’t pull any punches. And often when I think that he is such a better man than me, so perspicacious he’ll poignantly tell me that we actually see things similarly that I just don’t think I do. When he says that, he doesn’t understand that that is the biggest compliment to me. Two of the best guys I know.