True humility is a character trait that comes from within. But sometimes, God helps the process a bit with some promptings from without. TV anchor Tom Brokaw found that out the hard way.
He was wandering through Bloomingdales' New York store one day, shortly after earning a promotion to the co-host spot on the Today Show. Brokaw's new position was another peak in a rapidly-rising career in television journalism after plodding faithfully up the ranks, first in Omaha, then for NBC in Los Angeles and Washington. It wouldn't be lying to say he was feeling pretty good about himself.
As he browsed through the store, he noticed a man watching him intensely. The man continued to stare, and finally, when the man approached him, Brokaw prepared himself to reap the first fruits of television stardom in New York.
The man pointed at him and asked, "Tom Brokaw, right?"
"Right", said Brokaw.
"You used to do the morning news on KMTV in Omaha, right?"
"That's right," said Brokaw, getting ready for the warm praises destined to follow.
"I knew it the minute I spotted you," the fellow said. Then he paused and added, "Whatever happened to you?" —Soundings, Vol. A, No. 1.
When he was forty-six years of age, Oscar Hammerstein had worked with thirty different composers. Nothing took off. There was no successful song. It was a despairing, dispiriting time for him. Finally, Oscar Hammerstein tied in with Richard Rogers. The following year they wrote the musical Oklahoma. He was a success. In fact his success was so enormous in its impact that he went out and brought a full page ad in Variety magazine.
To keep himself humble, he bought this headline:'Tve done it before and I can do it again!" He then listed every single one of his failures. —Robert H. Schuller, Be An Extraordinary Person In An Ordinary World (Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1985).
A passenger in a dining car looked over the luncheon menu. The list included both a chicken salad sandwich and a chicken sandwich. He decided on chicken salad sandwhich but absent mindedly wrote chicken sandwich on the order slip.
When the waiter brought the chicken sandwich the customer angrily protested. Most waiters would pick up the order slip and show the customer that the mistake was his. This waiter didn't.
Instead, expressing regret at the error, he picked up the chicken sandwich, returned to the kitchen, and a moment later placed the chicken salad sandwich in front of the customer.
While eating his sandwich the customer picked up the order slip and saw that the mistake was his. When it came time to pay for the check, the man apologized to the waiter and offered to pay for both sandwiches.
The waiter's response was, "No sir. That's perfectly all right. I'm just happy you have forgiven me for being right." -Bits and Pieces
When I was a boy of twelve, my father took me to visit the President Wilson, then Governor of New Jersey, at his summer house at Sea Girt, New Jersey. It was a hot day in August, 1912, and he was running for President. I mounted the stairs of that large frame house alongside my father, and Governor Wilson came out and met us on the porch. He shook hands with me in a formal courteous way. I was paralzyed with awe. The conversation related mostly to the campaign and how things would go in Illinois. There was a lot of talk about the Democratic party and the state of mind of people in the Middle West. My father was confident about everything, because of the Bull Moose split. Governor Wilson was extremely courteous to me. He asked me in friendly, fatherly way if I was interested in politics or public affairs, and he express the hope that I was. You know the way that older people often get humble around younger people and, in somewhat that spirit, he made a casual remark about Princeton, and about his having been president of Princeton before becoming Governor of New Jersey. That's what decided me on going to Princeton, right then and there. I came away with the feeling: I'm his deathless friend. His supporter. His admirer. That's my man. —Adalai Stevenson
Ching Chow cartoon: "The great man seldom feels great—the small man never feels small."