Why would I hang towels and cardboard keys over my diplomas?
I bring these items into class when I teach on leadership, and the way Jesus calls us to lead out of an Upside Down Kingdom kenosis.
Towel story first:
One of my professors (Bob Lyon of Asbury Theological Seminary) washed each of our feet in a moving foot- washing service. And as he wiped our feet each with an individual towel that he would later give to us as a reminder to…well, “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit”….he spoke prophetic words over each of us. To me he said: “God has given you great compassion, Let it grow.“ I have not done well living out that word. But if I learned compassion at all the next seven years. it was from Carla. Sure, for all my years here at the church, I had that towel hanging over my diploma to remind me of what was really important in ministry. But I didn’t need that towel in my office when I could walk to the next office in see Carla Menagh, who lived out that word. I eventually lost that towel. link
I also tell more of that story in this video (from a speech to graduating nurses at Fresno Pacific University). See 8:52ff:
The keys story? When I was ordained in the United Methodist Church (by the Bishop Kevin Clancey...that's another story), they had rehearased this production where the retiring pastors all had a key, and they were to walk from stage left to hand a key to a new pastor stage right. They spent some time making sure there was one key per person. Dick Bayard, who may not remember this, but he pointed at me during the rehearsal to say "you get my key.' But somehow when it was all over, I got three ke ys...and everyone else just got one. What is the moral of the story? Obviously, it is NOT that I am three times more holy than the others...three times as needy, maybe..(: