Ethical Edge

By Russell Williams

Ethical Edge

Grace & Influence

The Ethical Edge
The Art of Integrity
Grace & Influence

CA Southland Area Team Leader
Marketplace Chaplains USA

“Grace must find expression in life, otherwise it is not grace.”
Karl Barth

As a clergyman it is prudent to name many people who have influenced me toward success in my career field.  How would I rank them in importance or effect?  There is one person, who if he had not been in my life at the time he was, made the most significant difference!

I never was an outstanding student.  Recently, I found some of my elementary and junior high school report cards.  I sure thought I had higher grades back then than the evidence proves. I did remember that my study habits in high school and college were just enough to get through school without causing too many waves from my educator-parents.

It was in seminary, graduate school for ministers leading to a M.Div. degree, when I finally began to correct my study habits. However, even there, with better study habits, I was enrolled in a required class for graduation. Without that class I could not attain my degree and without the M.Div. degree I could not be approved for entrance into the military as an Army Chaplain.

Oscar Reed was a venerable seminary professor who had been around so long, he attended college with my father! He was Head of the Philosophy Department. Midway through the semester during one class, I asked so many questions trying to understand any of the Philosophical arguments which Dr. Reed was expounding, that exasperated, he said: “Sullivan, will you please be quiet so I can teach this class!”

I went to him after class and told him I was going to have to withdraw from his mandated Philosophy class because I just couldn’t get my mind around this “idea of philosophy.”  He graciously understood my dilemma. He told me that if I would do a Book Report on a certain Philosophy book and PASS the final exam, he would give me a “C” for the course.

I wrote the book report. Dr Reed’s correct and pejorative assessment of the report was that I read the first part of the book pretty well, but it didn’t appear that I read the second half of the book very well. I did pass the final exam. Again, his criticism was biting, but correct: “If you had studied as much for the rest of the class like you did for the final exam, you would have done fine.”

Dr. Reed honored his commitment to me; I graduated from seminary; I had a career as a US Army Chaplain. Because of his influence, I have attempted to emulate Dr. Reed’s example of Grace to everyone in my life.

Thank you Dr. Oscar Reed…a man of great influence, understanding and support!

Wes Sullivan may be contacted at wessullivan@mchapusa.com




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