Lessons Learned at the Bulletin Board

In my school days, the “social media” existed in two mediums; the water cooler for the faculty and the bulletin board for the student. From these two locations, we kept current with (our) world view. The grade schoolers gathered at the bulletin board to check on their Spelling Bee status. The high school girls gathered to see if they made the cheerleading squad or the volleyball team. The boys world view consisted of the seasonal sport and to see if we made the cut. In our school that consisted of 52 seniors, anybody could try out for any sport, but only a select few made the cut.

As I look back over my days of checking the bulletin board in the hallway at Greensburg High, I learned some important life principles:

I learned how to live with failure

Failure is inevitable; it’s part of our DNA. Nobody wins all the time. More than once, I walked away from the bulletin board being informed I did not make the cut. Not only did I not make the team, but because of the Freedom of Information Act (bulletin board), others knew of my failure. I learned that the pain of failure was not long lasting, nor was the public exposure lethal. 

I learned that success was a journey, not a destination

I might make the cut to get on the team, but that does not necessarily mean I would be on the court as one of the starting five. In the hallway, my name was on the bulletin board. I had made the cut and now my name was on the team roster. However, I would not be happy until my name was on the starters list and eventually in our weekly paper. This reminds me of the story of James and John in Mark 10:35-40. They made the cut and became apostles, but were not satisfied at that level. They now wanted the best seats at the table, beside Jesus. Every success presents to us a new set of challenges.

I learned that failure does not have to be final

Maybe I did not make the cut every time and land a place on every team, but there are other sports, in other seasons, that will give me opportunity to excel. Another bulletin board later may inform me and my colleagues, that I made the cut. When I was a young man, I did not make the cut in football or basketball, but I did make the boxing team. I fought for the championship of Akron Ohio, and was invited to go to the state finals in the Golden Gloves in Columbus. In 1956, I fought in the Novice Division at 116 pounds (oh, for the day).

Let me suggest that the absence of your name on some bulletin board, in some hallway, does not necessary define who you are. Maybe you cannot sing well, but you make a great teacher. Maybe you cannot sing or teach, but your strength is in preaching. I think you get the point.

Nobody is good at everything, but everybody is gifted by God and can be a starter at something.

Please do not think that the bulletin board syndrome is reserved for the young or the lost. Remember the story of James and John. They were two preachers who had become apostles, but were checking the bulletin board to see if they had the important seats next to Jesus.

The team may change and the bulletin board may take on a different shape but, in most cases, the reason we want to survive the cut is that we still need the significance. The lesson we must learn is that lasting significance never comes from external successes. Our significance is attached to our love for God and our love to our neighbor.

Speaking of making the team, I made the cut back in 1958 when I was saved by the grace of God. Though not an all-star, I have lettered and received a lot of playing time.