When did so many of us become satisfied with producing the bare minimum? When did we stop doing the extra nice things to demonstrate our love, our respect, and our appreciation for others? When did it become so hard for restaurants to find waitstaff so that they could seat diners at all their tables?
I tried to remember the last time I was invited for a homecooked meal served on pretty china with flowers and candles at the table and could only think of a handful of examples. But, even more, I tried to remember when I had done that for someone else and was immediately convicted. Don't get me wrong. I'm always on board with paper plates and carry-out food coupled with genuine, engaging conversation, but you know what I mean.
I know that a person gets hired for an 8-hour day and gets paid for showing up at 8:00 a.m. and walking out the door at 5:00 p.m. (assuming an hourlong break for lunch in the middle), but what happened to our motivation to show up early, give it all we can throughout the day, and then stay a little longer if something important needs to be finished? Yes, those extra-mile folks are still out there, but I sometimes feel that we're rearing a generation of minimal-effort kids who do the least they can get by with -- because of the models we have set. Ouch. Could that be why those who are wired to push harder, go farther, and reach higher stand out so brightly?
These are some of my musings today as a result of remembering a blog post I wrote more than six and a half years ago. It was titled "Lessons from Mr. Greenhill." I continue to admire this man, his work ethic, his motto, and his impact.
Mr. Loy Greenhill died last week at the age of 86. You can read his obituary here. He was the principal for many years of Crestline Elementary School in Hartselle, Alabama, where all three of my children attended.
Mr. Greenhill created a structured and safe environment for all of the children under his care. My children were blessed to go through elementary school in a much simpler time. Oh, they had occasional fire drills and tornado drills, but their early years passed before the days of carefully locked doors and “Intruder Drills.” Mr. Greenhill was present for all of their chorus programs, science fair displays, and spelling bees. He was front and center working at the big fundraisers, especially the Crestline Halloween Carnival every fall.
As far as my oldest daughter could tell, Mr. Greenhill knew the name of every child who walked through the doors of Crestline each morning. That was no easy task, because in the early 1980’s, Crestline had one of the largest elementary student populations in North Alabama. Today the school only goes through 4th grade, but my children attended all the way through 5th grade.
Mr. Greenhill treated my husband and me with respect, whether we had school-related business in the office or just saw him around town. Whether Laura, Matt, and Julie were making good grades, flipping peas in the cafeteria, winning awards, or being sent home for head lice, Mr. Greenhill was fair and involved.
As you can tell by reading his obituary, Mr. Greenhill, in addition to being an excellent principal, also made time to be an integral part of his church by serving as a deacon, of his community by maintaining the landscaping at a fire station, and of his local Kiwanis Club and all its activities. I’m sure his wife, children, and grandchildren can testify that he made time to give them love and attention, too.
One of the most interesting things I heard about Mr. Greenhill came via some words of praise offered by his own daughter. She shared that her daddy’s motto was: “And then some.” What powerful marching orders for his life!! Not only did he give a full day’s work for a full day’s pay in the Hartselle City Schools, he went beyond — “And then some.” He didn’t just attend Hartselle Church of Christ on a regular basis, he took on the responsibilities of a deacon — “And then some.” He didn’t merely fulfill the role of elementary school principal, he took the time to learn each child’s name — “And then some.”
In many ways, Mr. Greenhill’s motto runs counter to the entitlement mentality of many Americans in this day and age. His mindset differed from those who barely give a full day’s work before skipping out as soon as the whistle blows in the factory or corporate setting, or those who “get by” with doing the minimum rather than caring enough to exceed expectations, or those who are always wanting more benefits without doing anything to make a company or work setting more productive or profitable.
Imagine a world with MORE MR. GREENHILLS in it!!
When you stop and consider it, Mr. Greenhill’s motto is a perfect illustration of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount:
Matthew 5:38-41 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist him who is evil, but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two.”
Jesus clearly told His followers to obey commands but to go beyond mere obedience. AND THEN SOME.
What is something happening in our lives right now that deserves an extra effort? I can think of a few things, can't you?
Colossians 3: 23-24 -- "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."