Administration Building Caribbean Nazarene College
Thoughts from the commencement address at the
Caribbean Nazarene College
Port of Spain, Trinidad
May 29, 2010
E. LeBron Fairbanks
A colleague said to me recently, “Life is too short not to live together kindly,
compassionately, and forgivingly.” I was immediately reminded of the last verse of Ephesians 4, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
As I reflected on the scriptural passage and the words of my friend, I said to
myself, “I don’t want to live my life as a ‘bitter’ man…and I don’t want my
students, colleagues, and friends to live their lives with ‘bitterness, rage, and
anger…slander…and malice.’” (Ephesians 4:31). And, I say that to the class of 2010.
My challenge to each member of the CNC graduating class as you depart from this campus: Make it your prayer, intention, commitment—your resolve—to be known as a kind, compassionate, and forgiving person. Life is too short to live otherwise. New beginnings for you may include some old, tried and true principles of living and leading with the mind of Christ. Some things will not change for you, even with your new beginnings!
I invite you to reaffirm three passionate convictions that I believe will strengthen you and me on our journey toward this Christlike way of living kindly, compassionately, and forgivingly. They are deceptively simple. These steps are:
#1 Speak carefully.
#2 Care deeply.
#3 Forgive quickly.
LeBron Fairbanks; Dr. Scoffield Eversley, President of Caribbean Nazarene College; Dr. Michael Scott, Board Chair and Professor of Sociology, University of Guyana;
Let me explain!
Step #1: Speak Carefully (Ephesians 4:30a)
Our words to others can bless or burn. The words we speak, in New Testament perspective, are to communicate grace to those who hear (4:29).
The reality is that we often live and work in an unkind, uncompassionate, and unforgiving world. Increasingly in the work place, and sometimes in the home…abuse, slander, and misunderstanding are the norms, rather than the exception.
And the differences we experience because of our background, temperament, social status, or religious faith, often divide us rather than provide a bridge for greater understanding and perspective.
For Paul, our words should communicate grace. They should…
Focus on others in conversation, not self;
Focus on encouragement, not discouragement;
Focus on building up, not tearing down;
Focus on supporting, not undermining;
Focus on healing, not hurting;
Focus on caring, not indifference.
Dialogue, for Paul, was a sacrament.Through our words, God’s very grace should flow. Jesus said, “Out of our mouths come the overflow of the heart.”
Dr. Victoria Phillips-Jerome (sister of Dr. Oliver Phillips)
II. Step #2: Care Deeply.
Our care for others can be intimate or distant. But what do we mean by “care?”
The word “care” finds its root in the Celtic term “kara,” which means lament. The basic meaning of care is “to grieve, to experience sorrow, to cry out with.”
I am coming to understand that biblical compassion is not a skill which we acquire. Rather, it is a quality of the human heart which must be revealed.
The late Henri Nouwen often stated that you cannot get a Ph.D. in caring. Nouwen helped me to realize that when we see the other person and discover in that person gentleness, tenderness, and other beautiful gifts which he or she is not able to see, then our compassionate heart is revealed!
What a profound thought! Our compassionate heart is revealed as we enable others to see what they have not, nor cannot, see in themselves!
To be compassionate is not, first of all, something we do for others, but rather it is discovering with others their divinely given resources and inner qualities. It is a way of being present with others and standing with them in their times of need.
CNC Provost, Dr. Anthony Manswell and CNC President, Dr. Eversely at CNC Board of Trustrees Meeting
III. Step #3: Forgive Quickly.
Our forgiveness of others can be immediate or delayed.
The words of Jesus on the cross regarding forgiveness are profound. “Father,
forgive them, they know not what they do.”
His words did not change the situation.
His words did not change the people involved.
His words did not reduce the pain He felt.
His words did not change things externally.
His words of forgiveness on the cross, however, changed everything internally.
He was not going to let what others said and did to him create within himself bitterness, resentment, and anger within Him. He was not going to permit what others said and did to him to create a break in the relationship with God the Father. It simply was not worth it! He was not going to give others that much control over His life.
It was as if He was saying, “Do what you have to do, say what you have to say, but I will not permit these words and deeds done to me and said against me to create a break in the relationship with the Father. It’s just not worth it!”
LeBron Fairbanks, Dr. Anthony Quimby; Sr. Pastor, St. James Church of the Nazarene, Port of Spain, Trinidad
Let me summarize these three passionate convictions that I believe will strengthen you and me on our journey toward this Christlike way of living kindly, compassionately, and forgivingly.
- Jesus spoke words of grace to others. Therefore, we are to speak carefully.
- Jesus humbled Himself and did for us on the cross what we could not do for
ourselves. Therefore, we also are to care deeply.
- Jesus forgave us while we yet sinners. Therefore, we are to forgive quickly.
I say to you again: As we speak carefully, care deeply, and forgive immediately, our Christian life will be effective and productive. And, this kind of Christlike living will make a difference—today and throughout your life—
in the home,
in the community,
in the workplace,
in the lives of others, and within yourselves.
Class of 2010: Remember, “Life is too short not to live together kindly, compassionately, and forgivingly.”
Click here to read the full test of the address.
Click here to view the CNC Best Practices of Strong and Effective Governing Boards PowerPoint presentation.
CNC Commencement Celebration