In his retirement, Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia. Because
Jefferson trusted that students would take their studies seriously, the code of discipline
was lax. Unfortunately, his trust proved misplaced when the misbehavior of students led to
a riot in which professors who tried to restore order were attacked. The following day a
meeting was held between the university's board, of which Jefferson was a member, and
defiant students. Jefferson began by saying, "This is one of the most painful events
of my life," was overcome by emotion, and burst into tears. Another board member
asked the rioters to come forward and give their names. Nearly every one did. Later, one
of them said, "It was not Mr. Jefferson's words, but his tears."
Today in the Word, March 29, 1993.
Will Rogers was known for his laughter, but he also knew how to weep. One day he was
entertaining at the Milton H. Berry Institute in Los Angeles, a hospital that specialized
in rehabilitating polio victims and people with broken backs and other extreme physical
handicaps. Of course, Rogers had everybody laughing, even patients in really bad
condition; but then he suddenly left the platform and went to the rest room. Milton Berry
followed him to give him a towel; and when he opened the door, he saw Will Rogers leaning
against the wall, sobbing like a child. He closed the door, and in a few minutes, Rogers
appeared back on the platform, as jovial as before.
If you want to learn what a person is really like, ask three questions: What makes him
laugh? What makes him angry? What makes him weep? These are fairly good tests of character
that are especially appropriate for Christian leaders. I hear people saying, "We need
angry leaders today!" or "The time has come to practice militant
Christianity!" Perhaps, but "the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness
of God" (James 1:20).
What we need today is not anger but anguish, the kind of anguish that Moses displayed
when he broke the two tablets of the law and then climbed the mountain to intercede for
his people, or that Jesus displayed when He cleansed the temple and then wept over the
city. The difference between anger and anguish is a broken heart. It's easy to get angry,
especially at somebody else's sins; but it's not easy to look at sin, our own included,
and weep over it.
Warren W. Wiersbe, The Integrity Crisis, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1991,